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Chasing Compassionate People Away From Church

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Chasing Compassionate People Away From Church
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassionate Internet Church
 
22 April 2012
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Genesis 1:16, 25, 29
    2:16-17
    3:1-6, 21
    4:8, 20, 23
    8:11, 20-22

For many years we have had people constantly asking us, “I have been searching on the internet, trying to locate a church where there is a minister/pastor who is veg/vegan and speaks the truth about violence to animals. Can you help me? Why aren't there any?”
 
Dr. Steve Kaufman, the chairperson of the Christian Vegetarian Association, recently wrote, “There are many vegetarian United Church of Christ pastors. In my experience, they are hesitant to push a vegetarian message, however, evidently because most UCC members are not vegetarian or vegan.”
 
Clergy, like most working people, are afraid of losing their jobs; thus they are reluctant to buck the traditional flesh eating lifestyles of their congregations, and we well understand why this is happening.
 
The power of peer pressure can be very strong, and unfortunately the strongest pressure comes in the form of supporting ungodly ways of life, or twisting the truth into lies.
 
The basic problem with this scenario is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; for if the people are not taught the truth about the suffering of animals and the human atrocities committed against them, the people will continue in their indifference to the suffering and death of the animals, and won’t give a second thought to eating their tortured remains.
 
Let’s trace a few of the things we are told in the Bible about the way we should eat and how that relates to our being the animals’ protectors.
 
In Genesis 1-2 we are given two commandments about what we should and shouldn’t eat. The first is Genesis 1:29...

29. Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

This is what we should be eating, and there is an abundance in every supermarket.
 
The second part of God’s commandment is found in Genesis 2:16-17...

16. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
 
17. but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

This is the only restriction that God places upon Adam’s and our plant food diet.
 
It is also a test of Adam’s and Eve’s obedience, and it’s really a simple one, especially when we consider the wonderful abundance that must have been in the garden.
 
But then something happened.
 
Satan, through his use of the serpent, tempts Eve with his lying wiles as we are told in Genesis 3:1-6...

1. Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
 
2. The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;
 
3. but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”
 
4. The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!
 
5. “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
 
6. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

We are not told what the fruit of the tree was, but it must have been different from any other fruit in the Garden.
 
Perhaps, since this tree was in the center of the Garden, it was a honey bee tree where the bees were tasked with pollenating the trees and plants, and the fruit of the tree was their honey.
 
And perhaps the serpent was holding a honey comb to show that it wasn’t causing him to die, and the bright golden color of the honey could very well have been a delight to Eve’s eyes; and it does taste good.
 
In any event, whatever it was that Eve and Adam ate, it was not among the abundance of foods that God gave them to eat.
 
Thus Adam and Eve fell from God’s grace because of their disobedience, and were forced out of Eden forever.
 
This is the truth, and the telling of this story should not be threatening to anyone.
 
However, most often another verse is twisted and misquoted to falsely indicate that God performed the first animal sacrifice, and thus wanted sacrifices, and even for us to eat flesh; but this is not what we are really told in Genesis 3:21…

21. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

There is nothing in this verse to remotely suggest that God killed any animal to get their skins to clothe Adam and Eve.
 
Nor is there anything in this verse that remotely suggests that God requires a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of Adam’s and Eve’s disobedience.
 
He obviously just forgave them, for they were sorry for what they did. We are told nothing to the contrary.
 
The Lord God MADE garments, just as He MADE the great lights in the sky (Genesis 1:16), and just as He MADE the animals as in Genesis 1:25.
 
Why is it so hard for some people to accept the fact that God simply made the garments as He made everything else?
 
Or if God had wanted to give Adam and Eve a constant reminder of their disobedience, He could have also made garments of the shed skin of the serpent, like the shed skin of a snake.
 
The only reason that we can think of for why people would twist the true meaning of the Bible to say that God killed an animal to clothe Adam and Eve, would be to try to justify the killing and eating of animals, and this way they could blame God for starting it.
 
These people are only fooling themselves and not God.
 
What could be so threatening about teaching the truth about this verse?
 
We cannot think of any logical reason.
 
The first recorded death in the Bible is when Cain killed Abel, as recorded in Genesis 4:8.
 
And of the descendants of Cain, we are told that Jabal was the father of those who raise livestock (Genesis 4:20), the first animal agriculture, and a direct affront to God’s commandment to eat only plant foods.
 
Once we consider killing to be an option, it becomes easier and easier to kill other living beings.
 
And in verse 23 we see that Lamech even gloats over the fact that he has killed a man.
 
So, death followed the line of Cain until it was wiped out in the Flood.

But righteousness never left the earth, as we are told in Genesis 4:25-26…

25. Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.”
 
26. To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD.

We see no signs of any killing in the line of Seth up until the time of the Flood, for they apparently lived on plant foods as God originally ordained.
 
This is Biblical truth!
 
Why not teach it in the churches?
 
From the story about Noah’s time afloat on the ark, we also know that there was no death or eating of flesh, because we are not told of any loss of life.
 
God must have supplied all of them with enough plant food to last for the 300 days they spent aboard the ark.
 
The one thing that we don’t understand is why after all this time of living on plant foods without causing any death, Noah sacrificed some of the animals when they had come to dry land.
 
It couldn’t have been because there were no plants growing on dry land, because the dove brought back a freshly picked olive leaf (Genesis 8:11); so there must have been other plants growing for everyone to eat.
 
Note what we are told in Genesis 8:20-22...

20. Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
 
21. The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
 
22. “While the earth remains,
     Seedtime and harvest,
     And cold and heat,
     And summer and winter,
     And day and night
     Shall not cease.”

In one of our New American Standard Bibles, the passages are color coded to reflect: grace, judgment, holiness, and sin.
 
All of these verses are classified as sin, including the first part of verse 21, which leads us to believe that the translators considered that righteous Noah had somehow changed, and had now reverted back to the ways of people before the flood.
 
Thus as we can clearly see in these verses, God considered Noah’s act of sacrificing living beings on an altar to be so evil, as to void His entire reason for bringing about the flood and saving only Noah, his family, and the animals to start a new world free of evil and death.
 
To us, God’s statement, that the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth, because of the sacrifice, is clear evidence that God’s intent is for us to follow His commandment to eat only plant foods.
 
The other thing we don’t understand is why so many church leaders are seemingly afraid to teach these truths to their congregations and to welcome with open arms those compassionate people who care about animals and don’t eat them.
 
Instead they seem to want to paint the vegan and vegetarian people, who are truly after the intent of God’s heart, as the bad guys and make them so uncomfortable that they most often leave the church.
 
Whose actions do you believe that God is pleased with?
 
We will explore this further next week.
 
Amen.