Eating Blood (2 of 2)

pig's blood 1

(Continued from yesterday)

• The references cited for the “no problem” position pertain to all foods or things being “clean”. However, the reason for forbidding eating blood is not “uncleanness”, but because blood stands for life (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:11, 14; Deut 12:23). The “no problem” verses are misapplied. Ceremonial cleanness or uncleanness is not the issue, which in any event have been fulfilled in Christ. The sanctity of life is.

• The prohibition against blood is repeated in the NT, not set aside (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25). The Jerusalem Council under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28) determined that a Gentile does not have to be circumcised like a Jew in order to be saved (Acts 15:1). Nevertheless, it placed 4 requirements on Gentile believers, to abstain from:
o things sacrificed to idols,
o fornication,
o what is strangled,
o blood (Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25).

• Some believe the restrictions were cultural to accommodate Jewish sentiments at that time, as the Mosaic law forbade eating/drinking blood. I believe they were more than that. The issue at stake is whether the observance of the law of Moses (Acts 15:5) is necessary to be saved. The answer is clearly “NO”, as we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus (Acts 15:5). Having broken away from the yoke that no one could bear (Acts 15:10), I think it’s highly unlikely that the apostles will muddy the water again by accommodating to the Pharisees’ desires.

• Rather, the 4 practices were common among Gentiles, and the Council’s requirements were that Gentile believers need to make a clean break from paganism. They need not become Jews, but they need to be thorough Christians, not hanging onto pagan practices they’ve left behind. I believe the principle of “abstaining from blood” to be the correct interpretation, though I believe its application need to be contextualized to 21st century.

• Concerning eating of things sacrificed to idols, to someone with knowledge they are nothing in and of themselves, and it is alright to eat them, but we don’t eat them for others’ sake:
o 1 Co 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.
o 1 Co 8:10 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
o 1 Co 10:28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake;

• Fornication comes from the heart and defile the man, so we abstain:
o Mt 15:18-20 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; (also Mk 7:20-21)

• What is strangled does not have its blood drained. Both strangled and blood relate to the sanctity of life which is to be protected. Hence their prohibition.

• None of the underlying reasons are cultural, but moral. That’s why I believe they are still valid nowadays. Having said that, blood is no longer closely associated with paganism as it was, and we have to adapt its application to the spirit rather than the letter of the law. Some eat black pudding or blood soup for their taste. I don’t take them myself for theological as well as personal reasons, but respect others’ preferences provided they do not infringe on others. So enjoy your rare steak. To avoid it is to behave like a Pharisee.

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Eating Blood (1 of 2)

rare steak 1

Q. I like my steak rare. I also enjoy “pig red” (pig’s blood) congee. But Gen 9:4 says “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” So can Christians eat blood?

A. There are opposing views. On the one hand, some claim there are no problems because:
Mk 7:19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)
• Acts 10:15 Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”
• Rom 14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
• Rom 14:20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.
• Col 2:16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day

According to them, blood is clean, and Christians are not bound by OT laws, but live under grace. So they can eat it if they want to. It is not a sin.

On the other hand, some oppose because:
Lev 17:14 “For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.’
• Deut 12:23 Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh.
• Acts 15:20 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.
• Acts 15:29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”
• Acts 21:25 But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.”

Both cite Scripture. Who is correct? While I believe we live under grace and not law, my position is in between. And I am not being wishy-washy. Here’s why:

(To be continued)