Christian Compassion and Stumbling Blocks

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Christian Compassion and Stumbling Blocks

By Holise E. Cleveland III

COMPASSION: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it

I am a member of a worldwide community that is networked to millions of genuinely compassionate human beings. When I first came to know these loving people, I was a bit perplexed to know how many of them are agnostic and even atheist. Many of them were Christians at one time, but eventually resigned to a different belief system or a lack thereof. Why? The Christians of this world seem to be less compassionate than what would be expected from a group that professes love as a prerequisite to their own faith.

I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of Christian church services and Bible studies and have met quite a few people. They are very kind. I would like to think that they are merely misrepresented or misunderstood because, on the surface, they are wonderful people. I could also ascertain that they are much like I was: unaware or the atrocities perpetrated by man. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be that case. Despite my efforts to enlighten a simple few, I am met with the same adamant, selfish response, “There’s no way I’m giving up meat!”

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.- Romans 14:21 New Living Translation (NLT)

Once I discovered the torment and anguish that is imposed upon living, breathing beings, I became vegan. I do not partake of meat, dairy or even eggs. I don’t wear leather or fur, yet a Christian will attempt to convey a message of love and compassion over a meal of decomposed animal flesh while wearing leather. The irony is almost sickening. The display of hypocrisy is more than enough reason for many to turn their backs to any Christian religion or denomination.

I have thousands of Facebook and Twitter friends who zealously fight for an end to the systematic torture and killing of sentient beings. Their compassion has transcended the boundaries of human selfishness and they passionately care about all of God’s creatures. “Where there is a mind, there are feelings such as pain, pleasure, and joy. No sentient being wants pain: all wants happiness instead.” – Dalai Lama

Many Christians will try to justify their contribution to the killing of animals to please their palette, but the subject has obviously been an issue for a very long time.

So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble. – 1 Corinthians 8:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

My doctor in Massachusetts told me that being vegan is the best thing that anyone could do for their own health. After six weeks on a vegan diet, I no longer required diabetes medication. My cholesterol levels returned to normal and my blood pressure improved significantly. My physician here in Rome took me off of blood pressure medication all together and gave me written instructions to continue my diet.

In light of recent scientific and clinical research findings, (depicted in documentaries such as: Forks Over Knives and Food Matters), you would think that the Christian community would be the first in line to abstain from meat because of what it does to their bodies.

19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

The Holy Bible is supposed to be the Christian manual on how to live. Many will quote scripture to make a point and tell you that God’s word should be taken at face value. When they are confronted by a passage that does not comply with their lifestyle, however, they always seem to have a nice long, well-thought-out excuse for why that particular part of the Bible does not apply to them.

So let’s examine some Biblical scripture. Shall we?

Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. – Genesis 1:29 New Living Translation (NLT)

Well, that’s interesting! Do you think that maybe God didn’t know that we humans need meat to live? I think not! He knows that we get everything we need from the Earth. He’s known it all along. Maybe you are a bit old-fashioned and you prefer the King James Version of the Bible. Let’s check that out.

And God said, 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. – Genesis 1:29 King James Version (KJV)

Please note the bold text.

So, what happened? How did man come to eat meat? Well, we all know that, in the Old Testament, animals were sacrificed to atone for man’s sins. Such a thing today would be considered inhumane. Nevertheless, this was how it was back then. I used to wonder why it was such a big deal. They would slaughter an animal and have a feast. How was this a sacrifice? What we have to remember is that Adam was friends with the animals. He even gave them their names. Would you consider it a sacrifice to kill one of your friends and partake of their flesh? I know I would! That’s why Cain’s offering wasn’t much of a sacrifice. He gave God vegetables.

It wasn’t until after the great flood that God announced it was okay to eat animals. Do you think it had anything to do with the fact that the Earth had been underwater for almost a year? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that vegetable gardens can’t grow underwater. Might I also add that gluttony could not have been a problem before meat was introduced into man’s diet. Have you ever heard of someone being a glutton because they ate too much salad? Come on! This is all common sense! Of course, I could go on and on. I have been reading the Bible as a vegan, while most people read it between meals of dead animals. You’re not going to even notice certain passages if they imply that you should feel guilty about your next all-meat pizza.

Jesus offered himself willingly as a sacrifice! No longer would we have to kill innocent animals to atone for our sins. In fact, He referred to Himself as the Lamb of God and in remembrance of His sacrifice we would eat what? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not steak. It’s bread! After He gave himself as the ultimate sacrifice, I personally find it an insult to Him by continuing to eat meat.

If you are a Christian and you eat meat, know that there are atheists out there who care more about God’s creatures than you do. Know that your lack of compassion for all living beings is the very reason that they consider Christianity a farce. After all, Christians are the biggest meat-eaters in the world. What it all boils down to, however, is that your selfishness is the stumbling block. We can quote scripture all day, but in the end [It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.- Romans 14:21 New Living Translation (NLT)]

If you really want to understand why there are so many people who actually care about animals, then watch the movie Earthlings. As vegan Woody Harrelson said, it is “A must see for anyone who cares enough to know.” Of course, you may not care enough to know and if you don’t watch the entire film, then you don’t care half as much as you should. Who knows? You may become a vegan. In which case, you would be coming out from among the less compassionate Christians. You would be separate. They may even consider you peculiar.