Q. I like seafood – lobster, crab legs, mussels, clams, scallops etc. But Lev 11:9-10 says, ‘These you may eat, whatever is in the water: all that have fins and scales, those in the water, in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you’. Some told me these laws still apply today. So can we eat lobster?
A. Your subject is about the dietary laws in the Bible. You can find a lot of debates on the internet arguing for or against whether God had abolished such laws for today, with both sides quoting the same passages I cited below, saying how the opposing view had misinterpreted the verses. Many of the papers on either side are authored by people with PhD. I can only give you my opinion. You have to decide whether my reasoning is correct for yourself.
OT Audience. The food laws are given in Lev 11, which distinguished the clean (fit for food) versus the unclean (ceremonially unfit for food) land and water animals, birds and insects. An important note is who is God addressing. Vs 1-2 tells us:
• Lev 11:1-2 The LORD spoke again to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘These are the creatures which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth.
God was addressing the sons of Israel i.e. Jews, and the laws do not apply to Christians in the first place.
NT Audience. When Gentile Christians appeared in the NT, some Jewish Christians (former Pharisees) insisted that they must be circumcised to be saved (Acts 15:2), and that they must observe the Law of Moses (v 5). The Council at Jerusalem was called to decide on this issue. The conclusion was that Gentiles are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus (v 11), in the same way as Jews. The essential requirements in terms of conduct are recorded in v 23-29:
• Acts 15:20, 29 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. … that you abstain from (1) things sacrificed to idols and from (2) blood and from (3) things strangled and from (4) fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well.
The Jerusalem Council determined that Gentile Christians do not have to observe Moses Law to be saved. The only behavior requirements were moral, not ceremonial. It re-affirmed that dietary laws do not apply to Gentile Christians.
(To be continued)