Can I eat a pork chop

Clean and unclean?

Can I eat a pork chop?

Is it okay for a Christian to eat a pork chop? How about a bowl of lobster bisque? And why not shrimp scampi? Most Christians wouldn’t think twice about ordering any of those scrumptious foods when they go out to a restaurant. But that doesn’t mean that all Christians would do so. In fact, there are some Christians who feel compelled to observe the Old Testament dietary restrictions of the Mosaic Law. For them, there’s absolutely no way they would eat any of those selections on the menu. In the Bible, we find God, our creator, telling man what he can and cannot eat. The interesting thing is that he gives man four different diet plans, each one superseding the previous one. Let’s take a look at each one, not for curiosity’s sake, but solely to determine if it’s okay to eat that juicy pork chop that’s calling to you from the oven.

By the way, best anyone can tell, none of these God-given “diet plans” were given to help people lose or maintain weight, so they are not what we commonly think of as modern “diets,” rather, they’re better seen simply as “eating plans.” Note: Even the recently popular (yet now fading) “Daniel Diet” wasn’t a diet to lose weight, but rather a determined choice by Daniel to not be defiled by the forbidden foods given to him by the king (Dan. 1:8).

1. The Sixth Day Diet

The first diet given to man was, “The Sixth Day Diet.” This eating plan was given in the Garden of Eden on the same day man was created. The timing of the giving of this eating plan makes great sense, especially considering that Adam and Even would have gotten hungry literally within hours after they were first created and would have had no idea what they could or should put into their mouths to satisfy their hunger.

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. (Gen. 1:29)

In this eating plan, God only allowed man to eat vegetables. Today, we would describe this diet as a vegan diet because it [silently] excluded meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. Sorry, but according to this eating plan, there was no way you could possibly even think of eating a pork chop. Interestingly, the first ten generations of mankind lived an average of 912 years. Before you connect the dots of a vegan diet with longevity, keep in mind that there’s no conclusive scientific evidence that eating only vegetables will increase one’s life span.

2. The Rainbow Diet

Ten generations after Adam and Eve, due to the prevailing violence of mankind, God unleashed a judgment of a rainstorm and flood that covered the entire earth. After Noah and his family floated in the ark for over a year, God caused the waters to recede, the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat and Noah and his family stepped out of the ark onto dry ground. It was at this point in history that God gave mankind a new eating plan called, “The Rainbow Diet.”

The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Gen. 9:2-3)

In this new eating plan, man would not only continue to eat his vegetables, but now he was allowed to eat meat, fish, birds and anything that was crawling around on the ground. Aha, for the first time in his life, Noah, at age 601, could now eat a pork chop! According to this eating plan, there were no restrictions on the type of animal, fish or creeping thing that man could eat – it if moved and he could catch, kill and cook it, he could eat it, simple as that.

But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Gen. 9:4.

Of note was that this new eating plan did have one caveat; although you could eat any food, you couldn’t eat blood – you had to pour it out on the ground. Interestingly, this commandment to not eat blood is also found in the next diet as well as in the New Testament letter from the Jerusalem Council to the recently converted Gentile believers in Jesus (Deut. 12:16; Acts 15:29).

3. The New Sinai Diet

Having made an exodus out of Egypt after four hundred years of slavery, the Israelites quickly found themselves at Mount Sinai where Moses was given the Law by God. In addition to the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were also given over 600 other laws, among them was a new eating plan called, “The New Sinai Diet” (Lev. 11:1-47; Deut. 14:3-21).

And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them,  “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, “These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth…These you may eat, of all that are in the waters…And these you shall detest among the birds…All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you…And these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm on the ground… “ (Lev. 11:1-47)

The reason this eating plan was given to the Israelites was so they would be seen as distinct from the pagan nations surrounding them. Of course, the Jews took this diet most seriously. Interestingly, Jews today also take it seriously because this kosher diet is still in play for them. Why? Because the Jews are still living under the Mosaic Law – something Christians have been freed from through Jesus.

4. The Jesus-Joppa Diet

When Jesus was explaining a certain parable to his disciples, he revealed that the food that went into a man couldn’t defile him; rather it was only the evil intent of a man’s heart that could defile him. At the close of that conversation, we find this side comment, “Thus he declared all foods clean.” We need to remember that the prevailing New Sinai Diet was still in place, and that diet was quite clear on which foods were “clean” to eat and which were “unclean.” With Jesus teaching that no food could defile a man, he was in essence saying that there was no such thing as food that was “unclean.” Accordingly, it follows that in “The Jesus Diet,” all foods could be eaten – including pork chops.

And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” [e] And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” [f] (Thus he declared all

foods clean.) (Mark 7:14-19)

One day, when the Apostle Peter was staying at the house of Simon the tanner in Joppa, he had a vision

in which the heavens were opened and a great sheet containing an assortment of unclean animals came down in front of him. To his surprise, he was told to arise, kill and eat the animals – something that was strictly forbidden under the New Sinai Diet. As a good Jew, he declined the offer three times. During that vision, he heard from heaven, “What God has made clean, do not call common (Acts 10:15). Though perplexed, he eventually connected the dots and realized that the meaning of the vision was that the Gentiles, who had always been considered “unclean” by the Jews, were now to be seen as “clean” in God’s eyes, and therefore worthy of hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we connect the dots, we see that the Diet Jesus declared all foods clean and the vision that Peter doubled-down on it to give us The Jesus-Joppa Diet, which is the one in effect for Christians today. The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. (Acts 10:9-16)

In Summary

With the coming and finished work of Jesus Christ, Christians have been set free from the Mosaic Law given on Mount Sinai and are now living under the New Covenant. While Jews are still under the Law, Christians now live under grace (Rom. 6:14, 7:6; Gal. 5:18; Eph. 2:8-9, 15) Christians do not need to be circumcised on the eighth day, make animal sacrifices for sin offerings, observe weekly Sabbaths and prescribed yearly feasts, pay tithes to support the Levites and the upkeep of the Temple, or follow strict dietary laws that were given to make a distinction between the Jews and the surrounding pagan nations. For Christians, there are no clean or unclean foods. However, we do need to keep in mind that if a Christian so chooses, or for conscience’s sake, he or she may decide to observe many of the requirements of the Law – whether in practice or principle – including the kosher dietary restrictions found in the Law of the Old Covenant.

The bottom line is that since Christ has set us free from the Law and has declared all foods clean, Christians are free, to choose to be vegetarians (lacto-, ovo-, pescararian- or vegan)…or not. As to pork chops, yes, we have the freedom to eat one or more– guilt free.