Too much salad can drive people mad, especially young women. – Auberon Waugh
In this essay we shall be shining the light of Scriptural truth on the error known as vegetarianism. It will be weighed in the balances and like the kingdom of Belshazzar shall be found to be wanting. Let the Medes and the Persians have it, I say, at the risk of stretching the analogy to the point of being ludicrous. Note that it is vegetarianism that is being scrutinized here not veganism. Veganism is the contemporary fad, popular with the sort of empty-headed celebrities who like to signal all the wrong virtues, which takes vegetarianism to the extreme of rejecting not just the flesh of animals but any other food that is derived from animal sources such as milk and derived products and eggs as well. Veganism we shall simply take as being self-evidently crazy.
Proponents of vegetarianism, by which I mean proselytizers, those who want you and I to become vegetarians as well rather than those who merely hurt themselves, in allusion to Sir Winston Churchill’s expression of his understanding of the difference between prohibitionism and teetotaling as the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker had explained it to him, rely upon several different sorts of arguments ranging from those based upon assertions about health to those that essentially raise animals to the level of human beings. Few of these arguments purport to rest upon Scriptural authority. For vegetarians who purport to be Christians and/or Christians who purport to be vegetarians, whatever the case might be, there are basically four passages to which they can point to claim some sort of Scriptural basis for their position. Two of these are in the Old Testament and two in the New. We shall look at the Old Testament first, then the New.
The first passage in the Old Testament that some might read as supporting vegetarianism is the account of primordial man in the first three chapters of Genesis. The antelapsarian existence of our first parents seems clearly to have been an herbivore one. In the general account of the Creation of the world in the first chapter, God, after creating man on the sixth day, says to him “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (v. 29). In the second chapter in which a more focused account of the creation of man is presented we find God forming Adam out of the dust of the earth (v. 7), and then placing him in the Garden of Eden (v. 8) in which it is said “out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (v. 9). God tells Adam “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat” (v. 16) with one single exception, that being the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The chapter concludes with the creation of Eve and the chapter following tells of the temptation of Eve and the Fall of man, which occurs when Adam and Eve eat of the fruit that had been forbidden them.
The first thing to be observed about this passage is how Adam and Eve became herbivores in the Garden of Eden. They became herbivores by being given the herbs of the earth and the fruit of the trees for food not by being forbidden to eat meat. Indeed, the only food prohibition they were given pertained to a specific fruit. Now, while it is probably accurate to say that a ban on eating animal flesh would have been unnecessary to limit man’s diet to the plant-based at this point in time as the thought of killing animals and eating them would not likely have popped into Adam and Eve’s heads out of nowhere, this does not mean that this distinction is trivial or irrelevant. Remember that the Genesis account of Creation and the Fall is only the first part of the introductory section of the Book of Genesis which presents a pre-history of mankind as a whole before the book’s focus narrows onto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the patriarchs of Israel. Also included in this section is the account of God’s judgement in the form of the Great Flood, and His postdiluvian recreation of the world from Noah and his line. One of the very first things God does in this re-creation of the world is to give the animals for food to mankind. Here is the account of this:
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. (Gen. 9:1-3)
As with the giving of the herbs and fruits in the Garden of Eden, so with this addition of animal flesh to man’s diet, one simple restriction is given:
But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
We will have more to say about this restriction at a later point when we look at the New Testament. The most important point to be made here is that before Moses moves into the account of the Covenant People upon whom further restrictions, distinct to themselves, are placed, God has given both plants and animals to mankind as food, the former in the original Creation, the latter in the postdiluvian recreation. The only argument this leaves our vegetarian friends with in regards to this passage is that what we are seeing here is something similar to what Jesus said about the provisions for divorce in the Mosaic Law, that is that it is something added even though it goes against the intentions of God in His order of Creation because of the sinfulness – “hardness” was the word Jesus used – of the human heart.
While this interpretation is necessary for vegetarians to acknowledge what happened in Genesis 9 while continuing to pat themselves on the back and thank God that they are superior to all of us meat-eating sinners and tax collectors it is not an interpretation required by the book of Genesis itself and is not the best interpretation. It is an interpretation that requires that on one level or another the interpreter assume that God created all things perfect and not just good. Perfection, in this sense, speaks not merely of goodness but of full maturity, a state that requires no further development and admits of no possibility of improvement. The implications of assuming that God created all things perfect in this sense are that a) any change in any direction from things as they were in Creation is a move away from perfection which must be attributed to sin and b) that the end of God’s work in redeeming fallen mankind through Jesus Christ is to restore man to the perfection he lost in the Fall. This second implication reveals why the assumption is borne out by neither Scripture nor sound reasoning.
If God’s purpose in redemption is to restore mankind to the state from which he fell then redeemed man would be forever in danger of falling again. Therefore, God’s purpose in redemption must be not just to restore mankind to his original unmarred goodness but to a superior state of goodness to that from which he fell. This means that there is a difference between the goodness from which man fell in the Garden of Eden and the goodness which will be his final state in the Paradise described in the last chapters of Revelation. Indeed, in theology we distinguish between these two states of goodness by use of the words innocence and perfection. Innocence was the state of mankind in the Garden. Perfection is the state of mankind in Paradise Future. Innocence is an immature form of goodness, perfection is goodness in its mature, competed, form. Regardless of how we understand the complex issue of how human freedom and the Fall and Redemption of man fit into God’s eternal design it should be apparent that God’s intention for man was not that he remain in a state of innocence forever but that he mature into perfection. We have no good reason to think that this observation is true only of man’s moral condition. Indeed, it would be extremely strange if that were the case.
One could argue that God’s giving mankind animal flesh to eat in Genesis 9 is best interpreted not as His advancing mankind from a more immature to a more mature state but as His accommodating the fallen estate of man because it follows immediately after the Flood, a judgement upon human wickedness. The problem with that reasoning is that the animals are given as food, not to the antediluvian wicked – these perished in the Flood – but to Noah, who had found grace in the eyes of the Lord and as a consequence was saved with his family from this judgement. Immediately after giving them the animals for food He also gives them the responsibility of civil government (9:5-6). While human sinfulness obviously created the need for the latter, God’s giving man that responsibility is equally obviously an advancing man to a state of greater maturity, even if the behaviour of the politicians, bureaucrats, and other bums, creeps and lowlifes who are currently abusing the responsibility they have been given to exercise the powers of Her Majesty’s civil government in the Dominion of Canada might suggest otherwise. Since this bestowing of responsibility is itself followed by the establishing of a covenant in which God promises never to destroy the world by flood again (9:8-17) the advancement to maturity is the stronger of these themes in the passage.
The second of the Old Testament passages to which vegetarians might point is found in the first chapter of the book of Daniel. The chapter and the book begin with Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim of Judah, the defeat of the latter, the spoiling of the Temple, and the carrying away to Babylon of the brightest and best of the children of the Jewish nobility. The latter were to be given a Chaldean education and to be fed “with a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank” (v. 5). Among those taken were Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mischael, and Azariah, who are given the new Babylonian names Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. Daniel, we are told “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” and so requested of the chief eunuch who is in charge of them that they be excused from this diet. When the chief eunuch protests that Nebuchadnezzar would be displeased if they ended up looking ill-nourished compared to the other children Daniel proposes a test. “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.” (v. 12). Pulse is the food you get from the seeds of legumes. Daniel was asking to be placed on a diet of beans. Perhaps he intended to stink up Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. At any rate, Melzar, as the chief of the eunuchs was named, agrees to this, and after the ten days, Daniel and friends appear “fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat” (v. 15). Therefore “Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse”. (v. 16)
While it is easy to see why vegetarians would love this passage there are a few things that need to be noted. First, the problem Daniel had with the diet he had been assigned was not that it was meat qua meat. This is evident in the language used. He “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat”. His concern was with being defiled by the terms of the Mosaic Law. There were a number of ways in which eating Nebuchadnezzar’s meat could have defiled him. The first was if the meat came from an animal that the Law forbade the Israelites to eat. The rules for this are found in the eleventh chapter of Leviticus and the fourteenth chapter of Deuteronomy. Of land animals, the Israelites could only eat cloven-hoofed ruminants. A ruminant without a cloven hoof, like a camel or a hare, was ritually unclean, so was a cloven-hoofed non-ruminant, like the pig. Seafood could only be eaten if it had both fins and scales. Lobsters, shrimp, and the like were out. Since the entire purpose of the Ceremonial Law was to set Israel apart, to make her distinct from her idolatrous neighbours, it was highly unlikely that Nebuchadnezzar kept a kosher table. Then there was the possibility that the meat, even if from an animal permitted by the Mosaic Law, would not have been drained of its blood in accordance with what Noah was told in Genesis. There was also the likelihood of the meat having been sacrificed to a Babylonian idol, making the meal a part of the idolatrous sacrificial ritual. This, and not some self-righteous, “I’m better than the Baylonians because I’m not going to cost some animal its life in order to eat” attitude is what was on Daniel’s mind here.
Second, this chapter occurs at the beginning of a book in which Daniel’s three friends are delivered from being cast into fiery furnace (the third chapter), and in which Daniel himself is thrown into a lion’s den and survives. Is there any good reason for attributing the success of Daniel’s test in the first chapter to some inherent superiority of a diet of beans than to the agency – the divine power of God – so clearly at work in these other instances? The seventeenth verse of the chapter says of Daniel and his friends that “God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams”.
Third, Daniel did not remain on a diet of musical fruit and dihydrogen monoxide for his entire life. Perhaps one of the Chaldeans had informed him of the dangers associated with the latter, the cause of soil erosion and metal corrosion which causes severe burns in its gaseous state and death when inhaled. In the tenth chapter, speaking in the first person, he says that in the third year of Cyrus of Persia, he had a mourning period of three weeks that involved the following “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled” (v. 3). This was a fast, not a description of his regular lifestyle. It indicates that outside of the three weeks in question he ate bread and meat and drank wine. Incidentally, while the “Daniel Fast” is a popular diet fad in certain Christian circles, have you ever noticed nobody seems to be very keen on a “John the Baptist Fast”?
Fourth, the very thing which kept Daniel from partaking of Nebuchadnezzar’s meat, his pious adherence to the Mosaic Law, would have prevented him from being a vegetarian even for the three years before his presentation to the king (1:5, 18-20) had he not been taken away to Babylon. The Mosaic Law required all faithful Israelites to eat meat at least once a year. On the tenth day of the spring month of Aviv – renamed Nisan during the Babylonian Captivity – they were to take one young unblemished male lamb of the first year per household – or two neighbouring households if they were small – separate it from the rest of the flock, and keep it until the fourteenth day – the Ides – of the same month, upon which it was to be killed before the entire assembly of Israel, its blood taken and struck on the side posts and upper posts of the house(s) in which it was to be eaten, and then it was to be eaten, roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, with none of the lamb remaining until morning, anything left uneaten was to be burned. (Ex. 12:1-14). This was a divine commandment that did not come with a beans option. This did not apply to Daniel, however, because he was in Babylon. The Passover lamb is a sacrifice which, after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, could only be offered in Jerusalem. Indeed, the offering of sacrifices elsewhere than the Temple in Jerusalem led to the apostasy that brought down first the Northern Kingdom, then Judah, bringing about the very Babylonian Captivity in which Daniel found himself.
Someone might object to the previous paragraph by pointing out that there are plenty of Jewish vegetarians today – and Jewish vegans for that matter. Now, in many cases this is because the Jews in question are trendy progressives who would follow the latest fad regardless of what they thought their religion said. There are plenty of progressive “Christians” who do the same. Think of the kind of “Jews” and “Christians” who get all of their religious teaching from a “rabbi” or “priest” who is a woman with an oddly-coloured buzzcut and the kind of tattoos that would put a biker to shame. Others, however, maintain that their vegetarianism – or veganism – is not only consistent with their Judaism, but that their religion is inclined towards vegetarianism. I have heard some even go so far as to claim that their religion is uniquely inclined towards vegetarianism, which suggests that these individuals are not very familiar with Hinduism or Buddhism, let alone Jainism which actually requires it. It is true, of course, as well as obvious, that it is much easier to keep kosher by avoiding meat altogether. It is also the case that rabbinic Judaism permits vegetarianism (and veganism) as First and Second Temple Judaism could not. Note, however, that the rabbinic texts relied upon to authorize vegetarianism among present day Jews base this on the absence of the Temple. Consider, for example, the baraita of Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira that can be found in the fifth paragraph of of Pesachim, the third tractacte of Moed, the second order of the Mishnah in the Talmud. First the Rabbi observes that “When the Temple is standing, rejoicing is only through the eating of sacrificial meat” and backs this up by quoting Deut.27:7. Second he adds “And now that the Temple is not standing and one cannot eat sacrificial meat, he can fulfil the mitzvah of rejoicing on a Festival only by drinking wine”, quoting Psalm 104:15 as his Scriptural authority.
The final passages that vegetarians might point to in order to claim Scriptural backing for their position are found the New Testament. In the fourteenth chapter of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans we read the following:
For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. (vv. 20-21)
In the eighth chapter of St. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians we find the following:
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (v. 13)
These passages are very similar. It is worth noting that the two epistles belong to the same subsection of Pauline literature, the epistles written during the Apostle’s third missionary journey which began in the eighteenth chapter of Acts and ended with his fateful arrival in Jerusalem in the twenty-first chapter. The Corinthian epistles date to the earlier part of this journey, the first having been written during his two to three year stay in Ephesus, the second was written from Philippi shortly thereafter. The epistle to the Romans was written in the last part of the journey after he had already determined to go to Jerusalem. Both passages, and the larger context in which they are found in each epistle, address the same issue, demonstrating that it was a problem common to both of these churches and most likely to all of churches in Gentile cities. In 1 Corinthians which was written first, St. Paul provides the most detailed account of the controversy.
The controversy is similar but not identical to one that had arisen earlier during St. Paul’s first missionary journey. The tenth chapter of the book of Acts records how St. Peter was sent to Cornelius, a Roman centurion stationed in Caeserea Maritima. Cornelius was a Gentile who worshipped the God of Israel but had not converted to Judaism. St. Peter preaches the Gospel to him and his household, they believe and the Holy Spirit comes upon them, then St. Peter orders them to be baptized. The precedent for Gentiles being baptized and brought into the church having been set by St. Peter, in the thirteenth chapter St. Paul is commissioned and sent on his first missionary journey with St. Barnabas by the church in Antioch. While they begin their ministry in each city they visit in the synagogues, they find the Gentiles more receptive to the Gospel and large numbers of Gentile converts begin to join the churches. By the end of the fourteenth chapter they have returned to Antioch and are rejoicing in how God “had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles”. Then at the beginning of the fifteenth chapter the controversy begins when men from Judaea arrive who maintain that the Gentile converts must “be circumcised after the manner of Moses” in order to be saved. They did not mean that they thought that circumcision was, out of all the requirements of the Mosaic Code, uniquely essential to salvation. They meant that the Gentile converts would have to become Jews – be circumcised, keep the Jewish feasts and fasts, observe the dietary restrictions and the rest of the ceremonial and ritual commandments – in order to be Christians.
The controversy grew so extreme that the church of Antioch sent a delegation led by SS Paul and Barnabas to the mother church in Jerusalem, which convened a council of the Apostles and presbyters to hear and decide on the matter. St. Peter spoke up and testified against requiring Gentile converts to become Jews in order to join the church. He described the Mosaic Law as a “yoke…which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” and declared his belief that they, the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, were saved by the grace – freely given favour – of God, in the same way as the Gentiles. In other words, the Mosaic rituals were not necessary for the salvation even of Jewish Christians. It is no wonder that St. Peter was of this mind. Earlier, when God had send him to Cornelius, it was by means of a vision in which three times a great sheet containing all animals, including those forbidden by the kosher restrictions, had descended from heaven with the commandment “Rise, Peter, kill and eat”, to which he had replied by protesting that he had never eaten that which is common or unclean and received the response “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Now that St. Peter was finally free to enjoy a breakfast of ham and eggs before going down to Ben-Donalds and ordering a bacon double cheeseburger with a side order of shrimp for lunch he was not about to surrender to legalists who wished to take this liberty away from those who had always enjoyed it!
In the end, the Jerusalem Council, presided over by the first bishop of Jerusalem, St. James the Just, ruled that the burden of the Mosaic Law NOT be placed upon the Gentile converts. Letters were to be sent to the Gentile Christians of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, telling them that the commandment to be circumcised and keep the law came not from them, and that they would lay no greater burden on them than that they “abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication”.
The first and last of these four items are representative of what is often called the Moral Law, that is to say, the parts of the Mosaic Law that God would be displeased with anyone, anywhere at any time breaking as opposed to the parts that He imposed only upon the ancient Israelites and which helped establish their national identity. Eating the offering is the final part of a sacrifice, the part in which the deity and worshippers enjoy the communion or fellowship of partaking of a meal together. This was true of idolatrous pagan sacrifices. It was true of Old Testament sacrifices. It is true of the One True Christian sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ upon the Cross, which are offered as a meal to the faithful in the bread and wine of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Telling the Gentile converts to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, therefore, is the same thing as telling them not to partake of idolatry, not to worship any God but the True and Living God. Fornication is representative of the sort of thing prohibited in the second half of the Ten Commandments – murder, adultery, theft – things that are always wrong in all places, by all people, in all times, and was probably made the representative of these things because it is more common than the others. The inclusion of these two items in the list was to show that while the Mosaic Law was not being imposed on the converts, this was not to be interpreted as license to do things proscribed by that Law which are mala in se.
The other two items are in fact the same item stated differently. Abstaining from blood points back to the Noachic Covenant of Genesis 9 which predated the Mosaic Covenant and, unlike the latter which was made with only one nation Israel, was made with postdiluvian mankind as a whole. An animal that killed by strangling has not had the blood drained from its meat so abstaining from “things strangled” is the same thing as abstaining from blood. What the inclusion of these items tells us is that the Apostles saw the Noachic Covenant as still being binding upon all mankind.
The theology behind this ruling is fully explained by St. Paul over the course of his entire epistolary corpus. The Mosaic Law – the Covenant established with Israel at Mt. Sinai – separated Israel from the nations and made her distinct. In the New Covenant, promised by God in the prophetic literature of the Old Testament, and established by the events of the Gospel – the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ – this separation is abolished and Jew and Gentile are brought together as one in the church. Salvation is not by law at all, but by grace through faith. As Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness long before the Mosaic Law was given, so Jewish and Gentile believers today are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, the Seed of Abraham. The believers, Jewish and Gentile, united in the faith through which they are justified, are in a state of liberty. This liberty is not permission to sin, however. If something was forbidden in the Law because it was sinful in itself, like murder and adultery, rather than sinful for the Israelites because it was forbidden in the Law, like eating pork, it remains forbidden under the New Covenant, because that which is sinful in itself, is universally sinful. The Noachic obligations are classified with the commandments against idolatry and fornication in the Apostolic ruling because they too were universal.
What St. Paul addresses in the Corinthian and Roman churches is a secondary controversy that arose out of the one settled by the Jerusalem Council. Believers were not to eat meat sacrificed to idols. What are they to do in a situation where they do not know if it has been sacrificed to idols or not?
In I Corinthians, St. Paul addresses this over the course of three chapters, beginning with the eighth chapter. To consciously and deliberately partake of meat sacrificed to idols is to have fellowship with devils, he says, and this is forbidden them because “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (10:21). However, an idol, being “nothing”, i.e., an inanimate object made by man rather than the deity that an idolater supposes it to be, it has no power to permanently taint the meat offered to it (8;4-6, 10:19). The sin in the act of eating meat sacrificed to idols prohibited by the Jerusalem Council is in the act of consciously participating in idolatry not in the meat and since the meat does not pass on the guilt of devil worship to those who partake of it unknowingly therefore the Christians should not ask questions of those who sell them meat in the market or put it on the table before them (10:25). If, however, someone volunteers the information that it is offered in sacrifice to idols, the Christian is to abstain (10:28).
St. Paul’s real point in this entire discussion, however, is not about devils, idols, or meat. In elaborating on why Christians should abstain from meat that they have been told is sacrificed to idols he explains that it is for “conscience sake” but not their own conscience but that of the other person (10:28-29). Not everybody has the knowledge (I Corinthians) or faith (Romans) to exercise his Christian liberty in eating meat, confident that the question of whether it has been sacrificed or not is rendered moot by the nothingness of the idol. Someone lacking that knowledge or faith, who eats meat sacrificed to idols conscious that it has been so sacrificed, defiles his own conscience (8:7), for “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). It is for his sake that those who do have the knowledge and faith to exercise their Christian liberty in this way should abstain when told that the meat has been sacrificed.
It is important to understand that the Apostle is not concerned here with giving this brother “offence” as that word is understood in our own day. He is not telling the Corinthians and the Romans to refrain from eating meat that their brother has told them is sacrificed to idols because if they do he will get offended in the sense of resenting their action, judging them for it, and seeking to get them “cancelled”. He is rather concerned that their actions might cause their brother to offend in the sense of doing something that he does not have the faith to believe he is at liberty to do. In other words, when Joe Corinthian is sitting down at the table and is about to dig in to a big slab of roast, and Bob Roman points out to him “Hey Joe, you know that meat was offered in the temple of Apollo earlier today right” the reason that Joe should listen to the guy in white, strumming the harp, and reminding him of St. Paul’s words, rather than the guy in red pajamas with a pitchfork telling him to dig in, is not because Bob might get all disgusted with him, unfriend him on social media, and tell everyone he knows to avoid Joe, but rather because Bob might be led by him into following his example and eating the meat, thinking that he is being bad and a rebel and indulging his dark side by doing so.
It is in only in this kind of situation, where you eating meat which is not wrong in itself might lead someone else who should not be eating it to eat it, that the Apostle’s instruction to voluntarily curtail one’s Christian liberty out of love and refrain from eating meat for one’s brother’s sake applies. These verses have nothing to do with vegetarianism as we know it today. Nor, although this has nothing to do with our topic, do they tell us that we need to allow petty tyrants and bullies to boss us around about wearing masks, taking injections the safety of which they are unable to persuade us, and sacrificing all of our and our neighbour’s civil liberties in the name of fighting a respiratory virus, as the nincompoop element of church leadership, which, sadly, is almost all of it these days, have been twisting these passages to mean for the last two years. Christian liberty, of course, allows for believers to be vegetarians or even, perish the thought, vegans, but the verses instructing us to allow love to control how we use our liberty do not require us to be those things and the larger contexts in which they are found certainly do not lend support to the idea that vegetarianism is a morally superior stance.
So the next time someone sticks his nose in the air, pats himself on the back, and calls you a murderer for eating meat, remember these arguments. Christian liberty may permit vegetarianism, and in certain very limited circumstances voluntarily abstaining from meat may be an expression of Christian love, but if someone tries to impose vegetarianism on you he is teaching the “doctrine of devils” (I Tim. 4:1-4).