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It's A Matter Of Conscience

I don't eat pork

WHO CARES?! Right?

But there are many people who convert to Christianity from Judaism and Islam who wonder if they should eat pork. The answer...if you don't want to then don't. It's not a sin to continue avoiding pork. But it you want to try it then you're allowed and not sinning

This is a hefty subject but I'll try to summarize it the best I can. This issue is obviously bigger then pork otherwise I wouldn't write about it. I'm too lazy. The fact that you're reading this with proper capitalization is me going the extra mile. Just saying...

When a person comes from a religion based on law there's a whole slew of things they struggle with in themselves when coming to Christianity. Christians are not under Law but under grace (Romans 6:14) for explanation go HERE

A Middle East convert will obviously have a different world view then an American convert. A world view is based on a number of things including language, surroundings, family, religion, culture, geographical location etc. The one who converts from Islam or Judaism or even new Western Christians are going to have a strong opinion on the eating of pork or alcohol or tattoos or ritual cleansing or prescribed prayers etc. When they come into contact with a Christian from the West or even one from the same area who has matured in the faith they may be offended at the "freedom" of another and even accuse them of being in sin for exercising their freedom

Romans 14:1-4 "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

There are a lot of things that are disputable matters among Christians. In Christ God has accepted people from all walks of life, from all world views, from all social climates. Before Christ God set down Laws and regulations the people had to obey to keep themselves separate from all the surrounding peoples and cultures. Gentiles were not allowed anywhere near God at His own command. But when Christ came God began taking in the Gentiles en mass and didn't insist they conform to Judaic rituals. Instead he wanted the Jews to accept the Gentiles as they were. The point in all of it was that though the Law is good it had served it purpose to point out
1. The Law couldn't save anyone
2. Man was not capable of keeping the Law because even breaking just one made that person a Law breaker
3. The high standards God enforced to be in a relationship with Him
4. The sin in man and his miserable state
5. Even keeping Laws was not enough to get a man into Heaven because even a person's most righteous deeds were as filthy rags in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6)
It's interesting to note that the Hebrew for "filthy rags" describes a women's menstrual cloth. Even you mose obedient acts is like offering God a used up tampon. Ya I know...

Christ fulfilled the entire Law by living a perfectly obedient life in word, thought and deed. This made Him the perfect sacrifice for man's sins. So no longer is man dependent on their own righteousness to get them into Heaven (something they couldn't reach anyway) but they now rested and fully relied on Christ and His righteousness to get them into Heaven

This caused a lot of problems in the early church. Jews were demanding Gentiles at least be circumsized and abstain from certain foods (Acts 15). By the first century most of the church was made up of Gentiles who had no idea about being circumsized, not eating pork, celebrating certain days etc

Some Christians with backgrounds in Judaism may continue to celebrate Passover. They're not sinning. It's a matter of conscience for them. If they were told they couldn't celebrate it anymore they would feel as if they were sinning and hurt their conscience. Some Christians from Islam may insist on removing their shoes before prayer and using a prayer rug. That's ok! They're not sinning! The conscience is God's early warning system, a God given standard we are to live by written on our hearts by God Himself and it must remain sensitive. When the conscience becomes dull from frequently ignoring it in situations we become hardened and frankly are capable of anything

We are to make sure we keep our consciences clear (Acts 24:16) and not dulled down. So if we engage in things that really isn't sin at all but it bothers us to do them then we are obligated to follow the conscience to keep it sensitive and clear

For example...the Bible never says drinking alcohol is a sin. When it becomes a sin is when it's done in excess or to the point that we lose control (Ephesians 5:18) but the occasional drink is not a sin. An occasional glass of wine actually has a lot of medical benefits for the body. There are Christians though that will not touch alcohol and believe it's a sin. Those of us who are more mature in the faith are not to look down on them for having a weaker faith and they are not to look down on us for drinking once in a while

Not eating pork for me comes from Jewish upbringing. As a Christian I still won't eat it but I don't look down on anyone who does and they shouldn't look down on me for not. Sharb doesn't eat pork either which comes from his Muslim background. We're allowed if we want to but since it would bother our consciences to eat it...we stay away. We know that not eating pork doesn't bring us any closer to God just as celebrating certain holidays, dressing a certain way etc doesn't either, it's just our preference

Tattoos are and cutting the body (like with piercings) is forbidden in the Leviticus. The purpose was to keep Israel separate from all the other nations this was common in. If it doesn't bother one's conscience to get a tattoo then it's not a sin. Some Christians won't celebrate Halloween because of it's origins and even Christmas and Easter. That's fine too and not a sin. There are other Christians that have no problem celebrating these holidays and their not sinning either. If we're going to pull out Laws in the OT to live by then we also have to be prepared to follow all of the Law. And if we follow all of the Law as a hope for getting us into Heaven then we're not following Christ

"One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God." Romans 14:5-6

BUT...and here's where it gets a little sticky...if my freedom in Christ offends a brother/sister then I am sinning by continuing.

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin." Romans 14:13-23

If Sharb suddenly decides to eat pork and it offends me and he knows it then he is sinning if he does it anyway. If I know celebrating Halloween will offend other Christians who will be exposed to my celebration then I'm sinning. Get it? It will make them stumble and hurt their conscience...

"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." 1 Corinthians 8:9-13

We are to think of others better than ourselves. If anything I do causes another to stumble I am to stop immediately. It doesn't bother me but it bothers them

Some things are not open to conscience. Some things are just forbidden...

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 "Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

Galatians 5:19 "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God"

But some things are a matter of conscience and covered under the freedom in Christ we have. We're not sinning if we do them and we're not sinning if we don't. AS a person matures in the faith they will find things change for them. Maybe they won't ever eat pork but they won't worry or be offended by someone else who does. Like Jesus said "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'" Matthew 15:11

Abstaining or not from things will not change anything for you before God. It's the heart God's concerned with. If you profess Christ and yet you still practice witchcraft, sleep around, hanging at bars or getting drunk, committing idolatry etc, there's a huge issue in your heart that hasn't been corrected. Those things are just plain evil and reflect a serious "heart condition" before God and they're just not open to debate
Disclaimer: I do not condone the teaching of men by women nor am I trying to exercise authority over men by using this blog as a method of teaching men. All posts are for the edification of women. For more on what I believe concerning this issue please see: Women - No Dominion Over Men
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