Should we eat swine flesh?

Do not think that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled. Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  Mt 5:17-19.

In the old testament of the Bible God commands His people to obey His law.  The most well known part of the law is the 10 commandments, but there is also much more to this law that they had to obey. You can read about all the commandments in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

One part of the law of God was the dietary regulations, that is, what you should and should not eat.  Most people know that Jews don’t eat pork. But besides swine flesh, there are lots of other things that the laws says not to eat, like any kind of shell fish, for example.  That means crabs, shrimp, lobster, etc.

The big question now is if we as Christians are  supposed to be following this law or not.  As you probably know, many Christians eat pork and shellfish.  Look at what the bible says:

Also the swine is unclean for you…you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses. Deut 14:8

So, here God says not to eat or touch a pig.  And Jesus also said that he who doesn’t do or teach the law are the least in the kingdom of heaven. So what do you think?

This is a very important issue to discuss. In fact, A LOT of the new testament is devoted to talking about this.  Almost the whole book of Galatians is devoted to this subject.  I’m going to tell you what I think first, and then I’m going to explain why I think the way I think.

I believe that we should not be looking to the old testament law for direction on how to live our lives.  And yes, that includes the ten commandments as well.  We should not be trying to keep the ten commandments or any other old testament law.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Rom 6:14

These passages in the book of Romans (chapter 6 and 7) are clear to me that the law has been fulfilled through Christ and that we are not to live by the law any more.  Remember what Jesus said? “…till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled.” Mt 5:17

What does ‘fulfilled’ mean?  Suppose you have promised to dig a ditch for your grandpa at his house today. Your best friend invites to go fishing, but you tell him, ‘I would love to, but I am obligated to dig a ditch for my grandfather.’     ‘Ah,’ the friend says, ‘I dug that ditch this morning so we could go fishing together, I fulfilled your obligation.’

In the same way, Jesus FULFILLED the law for us! He obeyed the law perfectly and fulfilled the righteous requirement. Now we enter in simply by faith and focus on walking in the spirit, rather than obeying the law (Romans 8:3-4). (Walking in the spirit will cause us to automatically do the things that are pleasing to God.)

But as far as following the written law, the following scriptures should forever settle the issue in our hearts, because I believe the bible is very clear.  Look at Acts 15:1-5

And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”  Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined certain others should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question…some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”  Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

These passages specifically mention the ‘law of Moses’ and circumcision (which is a command in the law and even before the law). The question was simple: should the gentiles obey it or not? Here’s the answer they gave:

Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.”  Acts 15:19-20

So what’s the verdict? Don’t get circumcised. Don’t worry about the law of Moses.

Paul talks a lot about this in Galatians. He starts out by telling the story about when he went down among the apostles in Jerusalem.

Yet not even Titus (who was a pastor, by the way) was compelled to be circumcised.  Gal 2:2

Don’t you think that if we were to keep the law of Moses, that at least the pastor should get circumcised?  So why didn’t Titus get circumcised?   And Paul is so convinced that the law is not for us that he even asks this rhetorical question:

What purpose then does the law serve? Gal 3:19

Why would someone who preaches that we should follow the law ask such a question???  He wouldn’t, and he gives the answer:

It (the law) was added because of transgressions, TILL the seed should come to whom the promise was made. Gal 3:20

See the law was added, and since the seed (who is Christ) has come then it no longer applies to those who enter into covenant with God through Christ by faith.  “The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ…but after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” Gal 3:25.  How much clearer can he get? We are no longer under the law.

Paul even takes it a step further and warns us of the dangers of trying to keep the law of Moses:

Indeed I, Paul say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.  And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace.  Gal 5:2-4

This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. Gal 5:8

Let’s examine what he says. He says that if you are circumcised that you are a debtor to keep the whole law. So that easily implies that those who don’t get circumcised don’t have to keep the law. Some people say that they trust in Christ for salvation, but they still think that Christians should keep the law.  But that doesn’t make sense to me. Why then would Paul be opposed to them being circumcised? Why wouldn’t he just say, “Get circumcised, but remember that Christ is the one who saves you, not the law.”?

So this brings me to the original question: Should we eat swine flesh?  You can eat whatever you want.  Spiritually speaking, it does not matter. It won’t affect your salvation or your relationship with God.

If you don’t want to eat pork for health reasons, don’t eat it. If you want to enjoy bacon and eggs, do it.  Just remember that whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

P.S. There is sooooo much more to this subject. Please read the entire book of Romans and Galatians. Also, know that all of this only applies to those who are in Christ and desire to serve Him.  Those who seek a way to get to heaven and yet live in the flesh are living in danger of judgment. The scriptures explain the balance between freedom from the law and the holiness of the believer. Maybe I’ll write about that later.