The Dilemma Caused by Being Vegetarian in a Christian Church

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The Dilemma Caused by Being Vegetarian in a Christian Church
Comments by Elyse Bell - 8 Apr 2008

Vegetarian ideas are hardly "new and foreign" to anyone anymore. In this day and age, everybody knows at least one person who manages to live a healthy, active life on a plant-based diet. Veg'n ideas have been around for centuries in religious (ref. Daniel and his friends) and secular circles but in our day have been rejected by a wealthy sector of professing Christians with vested interests in factory farming, meat-packing, entertainment (zoos, circuses), hunting and fishing, fur and leather clothing, and other industries that profit from animal exploitation.

Furthermore, the extreme suffering of food animals has been very much in the recent news as a result of HSUS's exposure of the treatment of downer cows in slaughterhouses. If church folks are not educated about animal suffering it is because they willfully and deliberately turn their backs----in much the same way as church folks turned their backs on the clouds of thick evil-smelling black smoke emanating from concentration camps and wafting over their church steeples during WWII.

I think the only thing that will change church attitudes is when non-Christians loudly and openly challenge the Christianity of our churches based on willful indifference toward animal suffering and the fact that "producing" meat takes grain away from the very poor.

This past summer in central Massachusetts, a church posted a horrifying drawing of a pig on a spit to advertise a pig roast and was reportedly deluged with angry letters and emails from animal advocates (most of whom were not Christians and therefore did not exercise Christian restraint of language). The message from non-believing animal activists: your church has nothing to offer us because we think you are a bunch of selfish animal torturers who care only about your own comfort and who are such low-lives that you actually take joy in the suffering and murder of helpless, innocent animals.

For the Christian missionaries amongst us who are looking for fields ripe for harvest, the fields are very ripe among animal activists, who's hearts ache for a powerful, loving, and compassionate savior to help them with their compassionate work. Many of these folks are amazed to see Christians stand out in the cold with them holding animal advocacy signs and passing out leaflets and who offer to pray for them and their families as well as for the animals.

I am now in my late fifties and have come to believe that the ministries of omnivorous Christian friends are limited by their unwillingness to overcome selfish food desires for the sake of other creatures. Yes, they might be very good at teaching new Christians and quick to help in an emergency, but they have stopped their progress as a Pilgrim, stopped running the race, stopped fighting the good fight by choosing to serve themselves and not God at dinnertime.

After twenty years as a committed Christian and two years as a vegan, for me the most consistently growth-producing sermons are from All-Creatures and Vernon McGee's "Through the Bible" radio shows.

I admit to have great difficulty taking sermon-advice on how I should live from meat-eating pastors because I envision them with blood and strings of animal flesh caught between their teeth. After all, in the end it comes down to what you do, not what you say, according to Jesus: Not every one who says to me,

"Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).

As long as you keep tithing your hard-earned money and volunteering your finite life to a church that is financially dominated by meat-eaters, you are supporting them. Oh, the monied powers-that-be might let you have a veg dinner, but they will probably have an even bigger pig roast. Some might even try your vegan recipes at home---but maybe insist on adding a little meat or cheese to demonstrate who's really boss of the castle...

Thank you and blessing from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Elyse Bell

Go on to: Comments by Betty - 8 Apr 2008
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