May we eat blood?

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Travis Fentiman, Oct 28, 2018.

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  1. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    According to Scripture, may Christians eat or drink blood and strangled animals?

    Gen. 9 prohibited it, as well as the apostolic council of Jerusalem in Acts 15.

    Yet the nearly universal answer of the Reformed Church during the Reformation and Puritan eras was 'Yes'. Find out the plethora of Biblical reasons why.


    This question delves deep into the related issues of natural and ceremonial law, Church power and ordinances, and conscience. You will learn a lot from the Introduction and the mass of historic reformed resources on the subject.

    And, there are some interesting appendices to the Introduction:

    1. Eating Blood may Still be Unnatural
    2. Making Love During Menstruation Falls Under the Same Category
    3. Ingesting a Placenta?
    4. Legalism & False Teachers
    5. The Holy Spirit is a Principled Pragmatist​


    I hope it is helpful to you. If you desire to discuss, object, etc., I would ask that you read the Introduction on the page first (and even some of the historic quotes; you may learn a few things).
     
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  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    We met indigenous believers here who would slit a chicken's throat and slowly let the poor beast bleed out on the basis of not eating things strangled and refraining from blood. It led to needless animal suffering. But they objected at first to my grabbing a chicken and quickly wringing its neck before butchering it, because I had strangled it and the carcass retained its blood, even though it was a quick and painless death for the chicken. So we had to have a long discussion about Acts 15 and some were still not convinced that Acts 15 was to not needlessly offend the Jews only. Some insisted it was universally binding. As did several on the Puritanboard who were very certain of it.
     
  3. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    Would not the creature in that moment of trauma release enormous amounts of fear induced adrenal hormones into the blood? All vertebrates have adrenalin or similar substances. It can't possibly be good to eat blood from animals being slaughtered. I realize this is not a theological answer, but the mosaic law was in many ways very healthy.
     
  4. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I hope we can or I'll have to give up eating steak! I can only eat mine rare!
     
  5. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Eating blood is nothing... Around here, some things are eaten still moving.
     
  6. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    You’re good. The red stuff that comes from steaks is actually not blood, but myoglobin. All the blood has been drained out.
     
  7. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Oh, why did this post have to appear? I finally just made peace last year with not eating blood (once my favorite food). Now I must read it!
     
  8. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I could be wrong, but:

    Trichinosis
    Salmonella
    E-Coli

    Probably best just to cook the food.
     
  9. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    This looks so yummy and maybe the Reformers can assuage my conscience. :)

     
  10. Edm

    Edm Puritan Board Freshman

    Wait...do raw oysters have blood in them?
     
  11. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Not exactly. Invertebrates have a blood-like fluid called hemolymph.
     
  12. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Aw, come on... It tastes so good!
     
  13. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Anyway, something doesn't have to be uncooked to have blood in it. Blood is a common ingredient in many foods (blood sausage, blood pudding, blood soup...). It's perfectly safe and full of nutrients.
     
  14. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

    Did you just take a bunch of foods and put "blood" in front of them? Blood pizza, blood yogurt, blood quiche...
     
  15. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Pretty much. And, if I may, your own recipe ideas don't sound half bad...

    Blood sausage is popular type of German sausage (Blutwurst). Not really my favourite.

    Blood pudding is normally called black pudding.

    I didn't know what else to call the blood soup eaten here in Korea. They use chunks of congealed beef blood.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
  16. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Naturally, I discovered this thread while I was eating dinner. . .
     
  17. BottleOfTears

    BottleOfTears Puritan Board Freshman

    Sinclair Ferguson answers in the affirmative here.
     
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  18. Jo_Was

    Jo_Was Puritan Board Freshman

    You can easily get Salmonella and E-coli from non-animal food products (mmmm e-coliflower and salmolettuce) or just cuddling your family pet. Fun fact: most of us already have e-coli and salmonella in our gut, it's just not a harmful strain to us, or we poop it out.

    Our bodies are weird.
     
  19. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    In Soviet Russia, blood eats YOU!
     
  20. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    I love that I don't even have to read Joshua's posts anymore and can predict them accurately before I even open the thread up.
     
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  21. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    In Soviet Russia, Joshua's posts predict YOU!
     
  22. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I guess my palate is more theonomic than the rest of me.
     
  23. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Okay, having read the article, I have some questions for Travis!

    Please note that this issue of eating blood has caused me no small amount of consternation on the part of my conscience. Pork blood was one of my favorite foods ever and I always loved eating it as part of when our family ate Dim Sum. When I suddenly became aware of this restriction in Acts, I became concerned and had to abstain from eating it as my conscience was not settled. My inquires into the matter online as well as in other websites and Reformed resources did not avail me much over the past ten years. Off and on I would look online again for more resources over the decade, but found nothing and remained abstinent from blood with a still uneasy conscience. I had abstained from eating blood for about ten years now due to this. This year I finally started to make peace after making a few more connections to blood and atonement - that the blood we drink is that of Christ's. So these last six months I've not worried about it any longer.

    Until now!

    So if I understand the article's arguments correctly, it's this:

    1) Genesis 9 is no longer binding because (A) if it were logically followed through then we would be required to put to death any animal that kills a man, (B) God's intention is to sensitize the hearts of man towards the life of man (having been desensitized to violence and bloodshed ever since Cain and Lamech), (C) that this command was not immediately given after the fall indicates the command is not universally applicable, and (D) the presence of Levitical Cities of Refuge in the Mosaic covenant demonstrates the rule in Genesis 9 is not universally binding.

    So this all seems predicated on connection Genesis 9:4 and 9:5. The point of not eating blood is not because of God's regard for animals, "but because he accounts the life of men precious (Calvin, Gen 9:5 Commentary)."

    2) The Mosaic law is not binding universally because gentiles in foreign countries may be sold strangled animals or with blood in them by the Israelites. If the rule was universally binding, God would be permitting the Israelites to sin by driving the Gentiles further into sin. Yet, this is against God's character to do so.

    The only issue I have with this part is that it seems to be confusing the eating of blood with the eating of animals considered corrupted or unclean. The passage of Deuteronomy 14 seems to indicate that the issue behind the animal is less to do with blood than it is to do with the unclean way in which it died. I don't see the clear connection with blood.

    I may be reading incorrectly, but it seems Calvin also distinguishes between the two in his Commentary:

    "Nor is it an objection that the eating of carrion and of blood are here prohibited in conjunction with each other; for we know that Moses does not always arrange his precepts in order, but promiscuously adduces such as appertain to different classes. Therefore, I have thought it well to separate these two prohibitions which have distinct objects, and whose dissimilarity manifestly appears from the difference of their punishment. He who shall have eaten blood shall be cut off from the people; whereas he who shall have eaten carrion, shall wash himself and be unclean till the evening. A question might again arise respecting torn or lacerated flesh; but it seems in my judgment to be plain enough from the context, that flesh torn by beasts is counted amongst unclean meats; for the reason of the law is expressed, viz., because those who were chosen to be a holy people should keep themselves pure and incorrupt."
    3) Acts 15's restrictions on blood may not be universally binding just as eating food offered to idols is not inherently sinful. James points out that it will take time for the Jewish Christians to come to terms with these matters of "indifference" and to not harm them unnecessarily.

    4) The act of partaking in the Lord's Supper necessarily reveals the command to refrain from eating blood is no longer binding as we feast upon the body and blood of Christ.

    Did I get the gist of the article?
     
  24. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Seems to me, all Paul does with the directive (found in Act.15:29) not to eat meat sacrificed to idols, is supply clarity (e.g. 1Cor.8); he does not dispense with the regulation. Its predicate remains untouched; so, in no fundamental way is this directive of Jerusalem Council changed by Paul, or (so far as I see it) by the passage of time down till today.

    Surely, their directive concerning fornication remains as stern and binding as ever. And was there ever a time in our modern age when it was less important to stand on that binding assertion? The trouble with parsing out the Council's directives into "temporary" and "permanent" is how undifferentiated their expressions are. They are represented without any obvious discrimination.

    Dt.14:21 does not appear in any serious way supportive of the notion that the Gentiles were thereby encouraged to eat the blood; there is no mention of blood there. Moreover, Lev.17:12-13 indicate that (in Israel, anyway) the Gentile stranger/sojourner was not to eat blood.

    The command is positive to the "clean" people, and allows them the right to give/sell the meat of an animal which was otherwise clean (but now prohibited to them) to a Gentile, thus mitigating their loss. There's no evident permission there for the Gentile to eat the blood, and in Israel's borders anyway, he could not. But, apparently what was not clean-enough for the clean Israelite was (minus the blood) clean enough for the stranger. It also seems obvious to me that a degree of "fastidiousness" about removal of the last-drop of blood is nonsensical.

    It may be because of the Reformation-source material from which it comes, but there is in the article a curious one-dimentionality to the reading of the Gen.9 directives. For instance, the idea that Gen.9 commands death to human manslayers without any mitigating sense. The article actually states that only in the Mosaic Law is there finally offered any relief from this wholesale destruction which presumably is God's demand. Only then is a legal distinction offered between murder of premeditation, and inadvertent killing (and resulting penalty).

    This is both implausible, and furthermore the Code of Hammurabi (c.1780 B.C.) clearly indicates the presence of this distinction in the world prior to Moses (ca.1500 B.C.). The question of the rights of the avenger (goel) is simply a part of the legal fabric of the age, and does not stand for an unrestricted authority (from God, no less) to impose a lex talionis judgment on the spot.

    The same kind of wooden reading is present regarding the duty to kill the animal manslayer. Hardly needful to point out is the practice of our modern age to find and exterminate the dogs, wolves, pumas, lions, etc. that pose a clear threat to humans. They have attacked--some not even to killing--people, in various settings, and are (rightly) viewed as a threat not to be borne. What surprise should it be that the ancients understood such wild beasts, having overcome the natural terror imposed on them by God, should be destroyed if possible? And if a "domestic" beast killed (as by a goring), still in Israel it had to be "put down," Ex.21:28ff.

    It is not as if the sons of Noah were obligated to travel over mountain and sea if necessary, to find and dispatch a fugitive homicidal bear. That is not what Gen.9:5 teaches. The text says that God requires the beast's life; and if man is able to kill it, and he needs to kill it for the safety of his kind and men generally, he should and he must. That is all. There is not one English translation (on biblegateway) in which 9:6 reads "whatsoever" instead of "whosoever." That is the text which, from the context, establishes the obligation of society to impose capital punishment when appropriate.

    "When appropriate" is, of course, one of the issues in play. But without a doubt, Gen.9 plainly indicates that no society should predetermine there is no possibility of a crime among them that deserves death. Such is a purely atheistic regime of justice, just as abominable as the violent atheistic regimes.

    After all has been said, I must be counted among them who say that, Gen.9 in conjunction with Act.15 seem to me plain enough: setting aside all stringent manners prescribed by Moses (including additional kosher details), men should avoid (gratuitous) consumption of animal blood. Much like Sabbath observance, whether there was or wasn't some discernible natural benefit (and there may be, but so what?) we should note and obey such a clear command of Scripture.

    This isn't "fundamental" or "theonomic;" and there are manners supposedly from Scripture that are those. But rather, this is something that was given to mankind before Moses (like the Sabbath), and is reiterated in the NT, in the context of the question of what Gentiles ought to do when we're dealing with contentions over moral and ethical duties. It is right there in ink, in plain language! There is something fundamentally submissive to God's will in this thing, and the fact that we study to find ways to put it aside makes me nervous.

    I can live with standing at odds with many of the Reformed fathers on this. Perhaps we should be showing our Jewish neighbors our faith even to this day, by this much respect as taught us by our apostolic fathers. And maybe our failure to do so is an additional and needless stumbling block to their conversion? I don't know that is the case, but I know we set aside the rule only because it "seems" pointless to us today, and not because there's an obviously biblical justification.
     
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  25. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    I updated the section on the page about the lawfulness of marital relations during menstruation to be much more detailed (dealing in full with Lev. 18).

    That part of the article is now its own subsection on the webpage. Hope it is of help to persons considering the question.
     
  26. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I recall a friend of mine citing William Perkins on that subject, who, apparently, against the practice. Did you interact with Perkins' arguments?
     
  27. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Video or it didn’t happen.
     
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