Quinta, 29 de Junho de 2017
   
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DOs and DON’Ts

A few weeks ago, the women in the church started a small debate via WhatsApp. It concerned whether or not it is correct to eat food sacrificed to idols. Debates such as this are quite important and fruitful once they help church members grow in the knowledge of truth and become mature in Christian life, more useful in the service of the Kingdom. For that reason, I wish to encourage this kind of discussion, simply alerting to the fact that it must always keep peacefulness, just like the women did.

Once talks cooled down, I think proper to comment on the topic, just in case anyone is in doubt about what the Bible quite clearly teaches.

First of all, I wish to set out that the issue of Christians taking part in food sacrificed to idols is no recent matter. When debating, the women discussed whether Christians should eat candies sold at a catholic festival to the saints Cosmas and Damian (traditional in Brazil). However, such question has been asked since Paul times, not regarding candies, but meat sacrificed to idols.

In Paul’s time, there were two events where it was possible for a Christian to eat that type of meat. The first was at his own place or in a friend’s home during a regular meal. Meat sacrificed to idols could be eaten this way because animal parts left after the offering were taken to the butcher shop to be sold. When buying that meat, the buyer would end up eating food sacrificed to false gods.

The other possible event for a Christian to eat sacrificed meat was in a cult (1 Cor 8.10). Now, let me remind you that the ancient pagan society made no distinction between social and religious life. Games, entertainment, parties and common life used to be intertwined with their belief in deities. So that by taking part in the city’s social life, Christians would often come across liturgical meals in which sacrificed meat was offered. This was also an occasion when Christians would come to face formerly sacrificed meat.

What should we do in such cases? Paul clearly answers it. Christians can eat meat sold in the butcher shop and served in regular meals guilt free once God created everything and all belongs to him (1Cor 10.25-27). No animals – living or dead – belong to the devil or to demons. Everything is the Lord’s. So that Christians may eat whatever they want (1Cor 8.4-6). Furthermore, prayer consecrates the meal as much as Christians receive it as gift from heaven (1Cor 10.30; 1Tim 4.4). Thus, Christians are definitely allowed to eat any food. Even items sold in catholic saints’ festivals. The only concern is not becoming a stumbling block to the “weak”, meaning the brethren who do not understand such things (1 Cor 8.7,9,13; 10.28,29,32). If a Christian stands before a brother who thinks there is something wrong with eating the candy, he must not eat it so as to avoid upsetting someone who Christ died for.

What about the second environment? How to act in face of cultic meals? Well, that would be quite uncommon nowadays, but Paul’s command is “Get off!”. Ceremonial meals are part of a worship to idols and Christians must never take part in it – it is not because of the food, which belongs to God whatever the situation may be (in the butcher shop or in the temple – 1 Cor 8.8) – but taking part in actions that worship false gods is a practice that only honors Satan (1 Co 10.19-22).

Thus, in practical terms, concerning candies dedicated to Cosmas and Damian and similar things, we should do the following: if the candies reach us in a way that we can eat them at home, at work or in a candy shop, no problem. In such cases, let’s only avoid hurting the conscience of weaker brothers in case they are close by. However, if the candies are served during an idolatrous party dedicated to Cosmas, Damian or any other shoddy little god, do not eat it, because eating it during the party may be considered (and I personally think so) a gesture of worship to idols, which we must strictly rebuff (1 Co 10.14; 1 Jo 5.21). What is more, a tricky question would be “what were you doing in a papist party full of pagan superstition?”

Well, I hope I have helped clear the previously shadowy minds about this topic.  We are free, that is true, but our liberty must be bounded by love for the brethren and by desire to please God. In case none of these values is threatened before a meal – Bon appetit!

Pr. Marcos Granconato

Strength and faith

Soli Deo gloria

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