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Questions On Doctrine


The Question of Unclean Foods



Do Seventh-day Adventists believe that foods such as lobsters, crabs, pork, et cetera, all forbidden under the Mosaic law, are still for bidden, binding upon the Christian, and hence not to be eaten under penalty of sin?


This query opens up an important question—that of the relationship of the Christian to the law of Moses. It is an old question, and as is well known, it has been debated from time to time through the ages.

Answering first the second part of the query, we regard the Decalogue as being distinct from the law of Moses, though we hold that both are revelations from God. But one was the expression of eternal principles, while the other was, in the main, made up of laws pertaining to the ceremonial, or sacrificial, system, which pointed forward to the great antitype, Jesus our Lord. We believe that the law of commandments contained in ordinances—the ceremonial and sacrificial precepts—met its complete fulfillment in Christ on Calvary, as is explicitly emphasized in Ephesians 2:14, 15 and Colossians 2:14-17. (See also Questions 12, 13.)


The law of Moses also contained counsel on human relationships, on civil judgments, on health questions, and on many other vital principles of faith and practice. That many of these important counsels were carried over and made an integral part of the Christian faith can be seen in the following:

1. That we should love God with all the heart, and our neighbors as ourselves (Deut. 6:5; 10:12; 30:6; compare Matt. 19:19; 22:39; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14).

2. That we should "be holy," for "I am holy" saith the Lord (Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7, et cetera; compare 1 Peter 1:15, 16).

3. That we are to know sanctification of life (Ex. 31:13; Lev. 20:8; Eze. 20:12; compare numerous texts in the New Testament).

These truths formed a vital part of the law of Moses and certainly were not abolished at the cross of Calvary. Rather, they were re-emphasized in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and thus become the norm of our life today in and through Him.

The same principle applies to the dietary laws given to Israel of old. It is true we refrain from eating certain articles, as indicated in the query, but not because the law of Moses has any binding claims upon us. Far from it. We stand fast in the liberty with which God has set us free. It must be remembered that God recognized "clean" and "unclean" animals at the time of the Flood, long before there was a law of Moses. We reason that if God saw fit at that time to counsel His people against certain articles of diet, these things were not best for human consumption; and since we are physically constituted in the same way as are the Jews and all other peoples, we believe such things are not the best for us to use today.


To us, the whole matter of unclean foods is primarily a question of health, for we believe that "God is as truly the author of physical laws as He is the author of the moral law."—Ellen. G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, p. 347.

Our health teaching is not a matter of religious taboos; in fact, it is much more than careful selection in diet. It is, to us, the following of a well-balanced health program. We feel it to be our Christian duty to preserve our bodies in the best of health for the service and glory of God. We believe that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16), and that whether therefore we eat, or drink, or whatsoever we do, we should "do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

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