The Fellowship of Life
Christianity and Vegetarianism - what a challenge this seems to present to the church-going Christian, despite vegetarianism's enormous and continuing growth outside the Church. Why should it be so? Are not the cows, pigs and sheep themselves vegetarian, all creatures of the same Creator? Why is our caring limited to our non-vegetarian dogs and cats whom we put gently to sleep when the time comes in order to spare them sickness and pain, while we cause healthy "food" animals and birds the fear and suffering which are inseparable from the journey to the slaughter-house; and the very act of slaughter itself, no matter how "humanely" done? There is, of course, no such thing as "humane slaughter" - the term simply pulls the wool over the eyes of meat-eaters, blinding them to the horror and evil of slaughter.
Although the writer has come across several books which indicate that the Bible has been interfered with, and that the Bible as we know it today has omissions and contains interpolations and falsifications, there is still much to support vegetarianism as an ideal, non-hurting way of life that is so much more in accord with the compassionate spirit of Jesus' teaching than is the cruel taking of the lives of God's sentient creatures. Did he not say that He came to fulfil the Law, not to destroy it? The very first dietary instructions in the Bible are vegetarian - in Genesis 1:29 we read:
Then comes Exodus 20:13 with its Commandment, Thou shalt not kill (no particular species is mentioned).
In Proverbs 6:16-17 we have,
And in Isaiah there is
and again in Hosea 2:18:
Ezekiel, in Chapter 4, Verse 9, is given a list of suitable foods:
In the New Testament we are told that the meat of John the Baptist was locusts (beans) and wild honey (Mathew 3:4). James, too, in Chapter 2 of his Epistle, says:
So what of Jesus, would he have fallen below these high ideals? It is nothing short of blasphemy to think of Him cutting the throat of a lamb to eat it. He Himself said that He came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it and He warned that His teachings would be betrayed and the elect deceived. And so it has proved to be, beginning with the Council of Nicea in AD 325 when the manuscripts were considerably tampered with in the interests of what was regarded as orthodoxy. And so down to the present day, when the orthodox Church, far from condemning killing for food actually encourages it, especially the mass-slaughter of millions of God's creatures to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Harvest Thanksgiving services can even be suspect; e.g. the one broadcast on BBC/TV in 1984 which filled me with horror and sadness with its emphasis on the rearing of cattle and pigs, and this year's (1986) included dairy-farming.
We are commanded to 'love the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds and with all our strength, and our neighbour as ourselves.' I feel sure that were He here today, Jesus would add 'all creation'.
But it is not only Christians who are missing the mark of their high calling by ignoring the non-hurting, non-destroying way of life as being applicable to them. Vegetarians, too, are missing the mark of their high calling, if they, because of the orthodox Church's failure to promote what they see as the ideal way of living deride all religion and do not acknowledge that they are what they are because of God's spirit within them, and which is calling them to even higher things, via the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the suffering of Jesus, to complete reconciliation with God - which is what religion is all about.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
The FoL Killing for Food table appears on the next page followed by:
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