The “God” of the Gut – Animals, Faith, & Gluttony

Jesus fished with his disciples.  Jesus multiplied a few fish into enough to feed a village.  Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, fell into a trance in which God said: “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat” (Acts 10.13).  The New Testament stories about the present time, not only give permission to kill and eat animals, but even allows for more animal consumption than the Hebrew Scriptures.

According to the Bible, eating meat is not a sin… unless, your god becomes your gut.

Story 1

Six months into my marriage, Lauren (my wife), convinced me that I should give in.  So I did.  Her name is Sadie.  She’s my first dog.  I promised Lauren that I would not be the primary caretaker of this pet and that we would be called “pet-owners” or “masters” not “mom and dad.”  And then, this pup grew on me.  What was hesitation on my part initially, eventually became, love.

My Dog Sadie

I love my pup.  She’s now 3 years old and every morning after she is released from her crate with our second pup, Mylee, I can trust that she will position herself tightly against the small of my back while Lauren gets ready for work.  My pups, for some odd reason, have become like children.  Weird.  I now question the death of any animal. I’ve gone soft.

Story 2

When Lauren and I moved into our current city, we lived in an apartment with a small outdoor storage closet.  We put our fake Christmas tree and other random boxes in the small space.  Over time, we noticed small pellets on top of the boxes.  What could they be?  And then came the phone call: “Kurtis, I saw a mouse!”

And what did we notice over time?  These pink-nosed scavengers indulged in our pups’ food and water bowls that were conveniently placed on the patio that connected the back door to the outdoor closet.  We knew it was time to act.

But, what were we to do?  These little rodents felt like more than rodents.  They seemed like creatures that mattered to God.  Why is this?  Well, before having dogs, I never cared about mice and other pests, but having animals in my home changed something… it changed me.

So, our solution involved purchasing a humane mousetrap (thanks to PETA).  And on five separate occasions, we took our captured mice and set them free out in the wild.

Story 3

About 3 years ago, I stumbled across a video called “Eating Mercifully” at the recommendation of pastor and author Greg Boyd.  I viewed horrific scenes of factory farm footage of chickens cramped up in small cages, of cows treated like slaves, and pigs in pens so tight that disease and violence flourished.  Then, I watched Food Inc and several other documentaries.  I read up on the effects of irresponsible farming on the environment.  And I realized that my eating habits contributed to the abuse of animals, God’s creation.

I felt powerless.  The only food group I like is, well, meat.  Meat and starches.  Certainly no veggies except the occasional bit of lettuce in a salad.  Therefore, I determined that I’d do all I could to purchase ethical meats when available.  Unfortunately, such meats are difficult to find in my town.  Picky and powerless.

Story 4

Lent changed my life.  Lauren and I decided to do something over the top for the 46 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday.  We lived off of $2 a day.  One thing that this meant was that I could no longer afford to eat meat.  So, I gave it up as part of the experiment.

To my amazement, I did it!  No meat during Lent.  And when it was over, my energy was in tact.  I didn’t need meat to survive. This led to a determination that I’d eat less meat.  That goal was short-lived.

The god of the gut

In America, we’re trapped in a system of consumption and gluttony.  We don’t believe that any other way is possible when it comes to our eating habits, so we perpetuate a cycle of cruelty to animals.  Factory farming in many (not all) of its forms treat animals like a commodity to be counted, cut up, and consumed.

ConsumptionGreed.  I think Paul had something to say about this:

Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.  Philippians 3.19

Is it possible that we Americans allow our “god” to be our “stomach” more often than we think? For me, even after learning about the terrible way that animals are treated in many factory farms, I couldn’t give up eating meat produced by these places because of the subtle idol of food.  At many times, I’ve allowed my stomach to have the authority of a god in my life.

As I stated earlier, it’s not a sin to eat meat.  According to the New Testament, we have this liberty.  But, I have to wonder if there’s a difference between the agricultural practices of the first century and modern day factory farms? Do some (again, I am not making a blanket accusation here as I know there are many compassionate farmers in the industry as well) factory farms fail to follow this simple proverb?

The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. Proverb 12.10

God cares about animals and charges us to care for them.  This isn’t the case with our modern day system of capitalistic farming.

I’ve decided enough is enough.  I don’t believe it’s a sin to eat meat products, but I do believe that the majority of our meats come from a degrading sinful system.

So, for the last 3 weeks I’ve committed to a “flexetarian” diet.  What this means is that I avoid meat (almost as much as a vegetarian) except on rare occasions (no pun intended :-) ).  My goal is not to live in legalism, but out of an awareness of the love that God has put within me for animals, and in light of God’s love for his creatures.  Yes, you can eat meat as a Christian and not sin.  But no form of cruelty to animals is consistent with a biblical worldview.  To justify cruelty may lead to the subtle god of the gut.

Resources

 

Eating Mercifully Video (Featuring Greg Boyd and other Christian leaders):

 

Farm to Fridge (Although this encourages a vegan diet [which I'm not convinced is completely necessary], it gives a picture of the “worst of the worst” in factory farming.  VERY GRAPHIC, WATCH WITH CAUTION):

 

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  • http://twitter.com/chickpastor Pastor Beth Birkholz

    Thanks for this post.  I have had a similar journey over the past nine years (since the birth of my daughter), and we now garden, have backyard chickens, and my husband hunts deer with a bow and arrow for our other meat.  Not everyone has to do this, of course, but it’s where our journey led us and it is a blessing to see every day where your food comes from.  

    I also did a Lenten fast from meat and ended up a vegetarian for years.  If you haven’t already, read about No Impact Man.  He’s not a Christian, but has a lot to say on the subject of mercy and living simply.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wmonn Whitney Monn

    Thanks for the post Kurt.  I’ve mentioned before that I am on a similar journey.  As my husband and I are considering responsible eating habits, it is encouraging to hear stories from others asking the same questions.  I will be looking into the resources you suggested!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002116300613 John Thornton Jr.

    Thank you for posting this, Kurt.

    I’ve been a “flexetarian” for a couple of months now although I think I’m just going to go vegetarian because I find it’s more difficult to find meat that lived a fulfilling life than it is to just give it up altogether. 

    Here’s my question and it’s what I’ve struggled with over the last few months with all of this: how do I (or we, those of us that have some conviction on eating meat) communicate that conviction to our community that might lead to others sharing similar convictions without saying that it’s a sin to eat meat? I feel like most people hear “Well I obviously don’t think it’s sinful to eat meat” and then check out. End of conversation.

    How do we go about convincing some one that it is wrong to eat factory farmed meat without using the word sin?

    What’s been your experience in sharing these thoughts with other people and friends?

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielericcummings Dan Cummings

    Flexetarian, so that’s what I am.  I knew there was a name for it out there somewhere.
    I stopped (mostly) eating meat because I saw it in the same light as environmental issues, that is, the current system is not doing a good job of ruling God’s creation, and so I don’t want to participate in that system. I’m not really an emotional “animal-person”, but God had to have something better in mind for his creation than factory farms.

  • http://www.fivedills.com Greg Dill

    Always good insight. Thanks Kurt. Fortunately, for my family and I we live in a foreign country that hasn’t jumped onto the industrialized meat market bandwagon yet. Here in Albania, farmers genuinely care for their animals. In fact, our neighbor is a farmer who literally takes his animals out for a walk each night so they can get some exercise. We’re talking lamb, cows, chickens, and geese. Then, he shuffles them back into the fold where they are treated with dignity and respect. Farmers here believe if you take care of your animals well, they will bless you with a good profit on the return. We still eat meat knowing that the meat here is purchased from people who truly care for God’s creation… whether they know it or not.

    • Shelly

      Same here in Armenia! It is the epitome of “old school” farming- mostly organic because no one has anything to spray on their crops anyway! I buy milk from a Russian lady in a head scarf who carries it straight from her cow in a tin can (about 10 litres) and goes door to door every Friday. People use the poo to make patties for their fires during the winter as Armenia was nearly deforested 10-20 years ago and wood is not a legal option for their stoves anymore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.enns James Enns

    Kurt, I am a bit biased here.  My parents (and Grandparents) raised Turkey for a living.  Typically, we would receive 50,000 poults (babies) at a time and raise them to “market age” – generally around 19-24 weeks.  In a good year, we would have up to 150,000 birds come through our barns.

    To be honest, raising that many birds is a messy proposition.  It smells, generally there will be plenty of pesky flies, and don’t even mention what the place can look like after a rain storm.

    What I can say in all honesty is that factory type farming is not a method you would use to raise an animal you plan to keep as a pet.  As a good farmer, my Dad worked daily to keep the conditions of the farm as good as could be.  Water was tested and cleaned to make certain water-borne illnesses would not be an issue, the individual drinkers for the birds were washed by hand each day, and the litter was tilled or turned to make certain it stayed as dry as possible.  It is true that many turkeys do not live to market age, but the mortality rates are kept to an absolute minimum by good animal husbandry – it doesn’t do a farmer any good to have animals die or be abused.  The fact is we made money by how much quality meat came off the bird; it paid for us to keep those birds healthy and content.

    Let me add…I am all for regulation and control of the corporate farm.  I spent time in college helping develop animal welfare programs for poultry operations and other industries.  I have been toured around 10 different processing plants (in depth tours), and spent time on a lot of different “factory farms”.  Each have had issues that needed to be addressed, ways they could improve animal welfare while still providing the valuable service to mankind that they do.  Employee training is probably the biggest; fair wages (which keep employees content, staying in the same job) and in depth training on husbandry practices will result in healthy animals.

    In all truth, I am proud that the job my family did provided food (healthy food – turkey is a top notch protein source) as affordable prices for families across this nation and even overseas!  I’m sorry if I can’t watch video’s produced by groups who’s sole aim is do away with the consumption of any animal product and think I am getting an accurate portrait of an entire industry.  The video’s themselves are highly edited, often times illegally attained (in gross violation of USDA regulations on bio-security, and often times by the same “employees” who should be correcting the issue”), and never provide any input of experts in the field of animal husbandry. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=680981166 Julie Eyrich

      You are concerned about the video being edited or stretching the truth but the fact is that most factory farms practice extreme confinement and you can’t deny that: GESTATION CRATE, is a 7 ft by 2 ft metal enclosure used in which a female breeding pig confined during pregnancy, for most of her adult life. Pigs are unable to move around one bit. Can you imagine your dog in this crate 24/7. Do you approve: http://www.flickr.com/photos/farmsanctuary1/2162676327/ or http://www.farmsanctuary.org/issues/factoryfarming/pork/gestationcrates.html

      BATTERY CAGES confine five to 11 hens. With each hen given less than half a square foot of living space (an area less than a standard 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper), she is unable to walk freely or even fully stretch her wings. Do you approve of this type of confinement? http://www.chooseveg.com/eggs.asp Of course eating meat is justified if that is your only food source.

      Of course eating meat is justified if that is your only food source. The spiritual/moral dilemma comes into play when we have many plant-based food choices and we are still choosing to take an innocent & precious life for our taste buds? Just because you are raising certain species of animals for food doesn’t mean the animals don’t suffer like our pets can or justifies the means.
      ITS BEEN PROVEN THAT HUMANS THRIVE BETTER ON A PLANT-BASED DIET:
      The American Dietetic Association is the world’ s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals has released an updated position paper on vegan diets that concludes such diets, if well-planned, are healthful and nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents and can help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

      http://www.eatright.org/Me​dia/content.aspx?id=1233&t​erms=vegetarian+diet

      • Ecumenicalpilgrim

        I’m sorry Julie, but I have to disagree with your assertion that it has been proven that humans thrive better on a plant based diet.  First of all, The American Dietetic Association is not nearly scientifically neutral on this issue anymore and as such their conclusions are suspect.  Secondly, “well planned” diets are only possible in very advanced agrarian civilizations which did not exist until, at most, 500 years ago.  As such it would be difficult to argue that humans, having reached our currently level of evolution far before the Neolithic agrarian revolution, would be able to even survive historically without meat given our essential amino acid requirements.  If our diet is to considered within the evolutionary scope then we must concede that meat is not only a normal part of a healthy diet, but perhaps a necessary one.  

        Would you feed a dog a vegetarian diet? Does knowing that a dogs digestive system has been formed to eat primarily meat concern you at all?

        NPR released a story discussing the very issue of how human consumption of meat was a necessary step in the evolutionary development of our brains.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128849908

        Our ethics must take into account our actual biological processes.  If they do not then they are unacceptably abstract and cannot truly be called ethics at all.  My primary concern here is how strongly you responded to James by essentially declaring all meat consumption out of the question unless all other food sources are absent.  It is not that I agree with James; I actually find factory farming to be unacceptable as a Christian.  My concern is the judgement and legalism which sit in your comment.  

        Thank you, Julie, for your compassion toward animals which are mistreated.  I will stand with you in a cry for justice.  However, I cannot agree with your stance against those of us who regularly consume meat from animals which are humanely raised.

        • http://www.facebook.com/james.enns James Enns

          I”m not about to apologize for the fact that I eat meat, but I would concur that many American diets are very “meat centric”; many of us could eat more fruits/veggies and eat less all around.  Production is driven by demand, and “factory farms” have made mistakes in their rapid growth.

          Like I mentioned, I am all for the tighter regulation of animal agriculture.  In general, both gestation crates and battery cages can be designed better (and larger) to both address space/quality of life issues and still allow for efficient production methods to feed a growing population.  If you want to talk population control in humans (the root of many of Earth’s problems, in my opinion) that might be a whole other topic for Kurt.

          I know and interact with many people involved in animal production…they are good, ethical, and often times Christian farmers.  Big farms do not necessarily equal bad; we cannot feed billion plus people in the world using only decades or centuries old methods of animal  production techniques and technologies.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=680981166 Julie Eyrich

            Look @ this estimated ratio:
            America has a population of 300 million & eat 10 billion land animals a year.The rest of the world population is close to 7 billion & eat 40 billion land animals. As you can see Americans are the ones that are very meat centric!

  • http://notonesparrow.com Ben DeVries

    Great post, Kurt! Ben, Not One Sparrow

  • ben355

    My diet comes under many names: low carb paleo, low carb primal, Atkins etc.  I do this because I am a type 2 diabetic and am not able to control my blood sugar unless I keep all sugar and starches, and most carbs under strict control.  Usually under 30 Carbs a day. .  In order to do this and still feel well, my protien and fat intake has to be higher than people who consume a more “balanced” diet.  This means consuming most of my calories from animal sources (Bacon, beef, chicken, eggs etc.).  As a binge eater who is ravenous and completely  addicted to food, this diet satiates my hunger and controls my sugar cravings…  After a week or two of eating this way my energy levels increase, my need to eat drops dramatically and my mood elevates into a constant mild euphoria.

    Being on a limited budget myself, the meat I need to consume probably does not come from the most ethical of sources. .  Am I conflicted?  Not really.  Is factory farming really all that more inhumane than the way predation seems to be designed into the fabric of inter-species relationships?  I feel that there is time for a healthy measure of selfishness.  If the way of eating above contributes positively to my health, and eating a more carb rich diet would damage it, my reaction is to say “then farm animals be damned”.

    P.S.:  author/science journalist Gary Taubes who has written books such as “good calories, bad calories” and “why we get fat” as written that it is a mistaken/old fashion notion to assume that people get fat because of Gluttony & Sloth.  Rather he would say people become gluttonous and slothful because they are getting fat.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=680981166 Julie Eyrich

      Ben, With this kind of meat centric diet you are setting yourself up to develop heart disease. You are at a much higher risk for cancer. Most meats are consider carcinogenic.
      http://www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=351
      http://www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=201
      http://www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=1009

      • Ecumenicalpilgrim

        Hello Julie, 
        Sadly, PCRM is not a legitimate source of unbiased research.  They are dogmatic promoters of a particular vegan agenda.  I would love to hear your response to my previous comments.  As I noted before, I truly appreciate your desire to care for animals but we must avoid dogmatic positions which may cloud honest discourse.
        Shalom,
        Scott

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=680981166 Julie Eyrich

          Just because PRCM has a vegan biased doesn’t make the articles untrue. The 2nd ranked medical center, Mayo Clinic, states long term high protein diets can cause such health problems as constipation and diverticulitis, and may increase your risk for certain types of cancer & heart disease: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-protein-diets/AN00847

  • Anonymous

    I was vegetarian for 3 years but I spent too much time in Latin American culture to stick to it. When they kill the fatted calf you dont refuse it. I should probably revisit things. Got the freshman pastor 15.

  • ben355

    Obviously I believe that everything that can be done, should be done to make any farm treat their animals more humanely…  My point below was that for some of us, for various reasons, both financial and geographical, buying organic meats from non-factory farm facilities is difficult.  On top of this, for some us, a meat based/low carb diet is what is required for our own unique health requirements.   What do we do? Plant based diets have only been around for maybe 10,000 years.  For more than 100,000 years before that humans evolved to eat a low carb/high fat/meat based diet..  I admit, that no perfect solution may exist to allow everyone to get their needs and health requirements met while being completely ethical to animals…  And that’s unfortunate. 

  • Godscre58

    God looks on our hearts – the ‘why’ we eat as we do. 
    Numbers 11:33-34 – the story about God giving quail – shows how God viewed their discontent.    We will be held accountable someday – Hebrews 4:13.
    Jan
    God’s Creatures Ministry

  • Jason Hess

    I’ve always found it funny that Acts 10:13 is commonly interpreted as referencing food. If you read a little further Peter himself interprets the vision (Acts 10:28)… it has nothing to do with meat, or any food for that matter, but rather Gentile inclusion into the Kingdom.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @f1026f27b136b90e68096c8e89e9fa5d:disqus … I think its a both and.  Otherwise Paul wouldn’t have to make such a big deal about meat in his letters.  Mostly, this is about inclusion of Gentiles, but its also about permission to eat meat with them at the table of fellowship.

  • http://boehadden.wordpress.com/ boehadden

    I’ve gone through a similar journey myself in the last couple of years. Though my willpower has fluctuated. I’ve eaten veg and even vegan for periods of time (Orthodox fasting is such) and I’ve cut back meat at times, or only eaten meat from an organic farm, etc.  But I’ve not been consistent– though I’ve come to the same conclusions as you about the meat industry in the US. Food Inc. was also pivotal for me in understanding it…  Thanks for sharing! nice to hear your journey.

  • jenreimer

    I was a vegetarian for about seven years and I felt great. Although I currently don’t eat a great deal of meat, I’ve been eating meat for about two years now and I’m thinking about going veggie again. Not only did I feel good physically while living a vegetarian lifestyle, I felt like I was making a positive contribution to society (e.g. by not contributing to the cruel treatment of animals, because plant-based foods sources take less energy to produce than animal-based food sources, also there are plenty of produce farmers in my area I can support with my dollars).

    Kurt – your post is refreshing for me to read because due to the background I came from, I felt like a bit of a pariah by choosing to limit my meat consumption (for example, upon mentioning to one of my close family member that I had decided to give vegetarianism a try, I was asked if I was a lesbian, which definitely was not meant as a neutral association).  I’m happy to hear that perhaps some of my ideas weren’t as crazy as my family seemed to think.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @98afd70101965335fe6e5e6ac8c6b261:disqus , no… you are not crazy!  I think that leaning vegetarian is not only good for animals and the earth, but reflects the love of God.

  • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com Brambonius

    If the argument is creation care or ethical treatment of other beings, then what about plants that are treated unethically? what about the infamous Monsanto ’roundup-ready’ crops that make it possible to poison everything because the crops are immune? what about the destruction of every living being except for the right plants in certain areas?

    (I remember reading an article of monarch butterflies declining because of the destruction of the plants they live on by this kind of farming)

    Modern agriculture can be as destructive for plants, and even worse all living creatures in the environment (including animals and homo sapiens) so I don’t think the problem just stops with not eating animals…

    But it’s hard to know the origin of what you eat…

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      I agree that these are important questions @brambonius:disqus  , but I was addressing animals specifically.  Also, I prioritize sentient beings over plant life… yet I certainly care about all creation.  Ecology matters in the Kingdom!

      • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com Brambonius

        I don’t say I live as radically as my words would suggest or demand, but I’ve been thinking of these things lately. Not that eating plants is somewhere wrong, or that I would ever be as crazy as the jainists who eat only what the plant can grow back (like fruits and leaves) but not what kills the plant when harvested (like roots)… It’s more the whole web of creation that’s unhealthily disturbed in enormous monocultures, and the whole idea of roundup-ready crops is just obscene…

        But who am I to talk? I’m not even a vegetarian. My wife used to be one, until she discovered she had a lot of intolerances (including gluten, lactose and soy) which made her eat some meat again. Maybe otherwise she would have turned me into more of a vegetarian… But we don’t eat meat every day, and hardly ever steak… More lamb (from the morrocan) and chicken. Sometimes I tend to go more and more vegetarian, but sometimes the flesh, eh meat seems to take revenge…The chicken battery stuff is forbidden here in Belgium by the way…

        (Funny, I do remember how me and my wife had a discussion years ago with a guy who said that ‘vegetarians are occult’ because all vegetarians he had seen had been hippie/new age types. as if there was some evil spirit behind vegetarism… sigh…)

  • Ecumenicalpilgrim

    Hi Kurt,

    Thank you for this post.  I find it absolutely atrocious how many people eat meat without concern for the animal which it came from.  What’s worse is that a large number of Christians who know about the nature of factory farms still aren’t moved with compassion.  

     Although I consume meat on nearly a daily basis I have for the past several years made the choice to purchase all of my meat from ecologically sound farms which treat their animals humanely.  I currently purchase my beef and chicken locally from Page River Bottom Farms.  I do get some products from Applegate Farms as well.  This has been a costly decision which increased the amount we spend on groceries dramatically.  However, I doubt I could consider my consumption to be ethical if I chose any other way.

    Because of the frame in which you have discussed this issue I think it is also pertinent to mention that merely removing meat from a diet does not remotely remove the temptation of making a “god out of the gut.”  If one does not actually get to the heart of the matter one will remove only the vehicle through which that god is worshiped.  It is still possible to have a robust worship of the “god of gut” by eating two dozen vegan donuts.

  • Jason Huffman

    I am the son of a rancher who is also the son of a rancher. I am in ministry now, but when my dad is too old to ranch, I’ll be a rancher, too. The problem with the cattle industry is that very few farms raise animals for the entire life of the animal-birth to slaughter. One farm raises calves, another fattens them up, then they go somewhere else. We raise calves. My dad will bend over backwards to make sure he doesn’t lose a calf or a cow. He feeds better than most and really cares for the animals. But once those cattle go to market, it’s out of our hands. Therein lies the problem.

    I am also a hunter, and have been since I was Old enough to shoot. I ma an ethical hunter. This means I don’t harvest more than I should or need, and that I choose only shots I know I can make and take game inthe most effective way possible. That being said, Peter’s vision is double for me. I also own 3 dogs, a cat, a rabbit, and own 7 laying hens. So yes, some animals are eaten, but not in an unethical way (I know “ethical” is a relevant term). I appreciate your open-mindedness. But I agree with some of the comments below. It’s not alwaysso cut and dried.

    I am also a hunter. I have been as long as I was old enough to shoot

    • Ecumenicalpilgrim

      Thank you, Jason, for practicing ethical hunting. I truly believe that hunting, if done ethically, is far better than any husbandry system currently available.  

      However, I have to disagree with you about the way you describe the ethical concerns of ranchers raising calves.  I believe that it is absolutely imperative for the ethical raising of a calf to include concern for the manner in which the calf will be treated once it is sold to a different organization.  It is entirely acceptable to ask Christian calf ranchers to find out how their calves are being treated once they are sold.  Choosing to sell cattle only to companies which treat those cattle ethically is just as important as a Christian choosing to shop at a retail market which treats its employees ethically.  If a rancher can merely hand off their cattle to whomever offers the best price, regardless of the ethical choices made after the exchange, then it seems such a transaction is akin to Pilate washing his hands.

      • Shelly

        I think that is true Kurt- to an extent. I did an internship for a farming magazine when I was at FPU and didn’t realize until then how complicated selling your crops, etc was! I did an article about the price of grapes– it had been decided that year for crops that were harvested 2 years before! It was so political. I am not saying not to fight, but when it comes down to losing everything you have, your means of livelihood and providing for your family, you are only going to holler so much about the next process. I agree, animals should be treated well, but they ARE animals and ultimately  not human beings. And also the process of change isn’t something that comes overnight- you make the best decisions you can and sometimes you have to make hard choices, or ones you don’t like. Keep trying and hoping that next time you can do better. Keep doing your best to influence the industry and move on. 

  • Jssparks Franklin

    I agree with the statement that, “according to the bible… eating meat is not a sin”. If only a static reading of Scripture is functioning as the norm for one’s ethical decisions, then yes, eating meat is condoned. But I feel as if this propositional approach to revelation is limiting and intellectually unsatisfying. In my opinion, it seems as if ethical dilemmas are so much more complicated and nuanced than single verse solutions… and taking this approach can often be quite harmful as so many other relevant factors are failed to be considered. My point being, we are both advocating the same cause and both agree that Scripture should be the primary resource grounding this cause. The difference, or so it seems, is that I see the focus needing to be looking at the greater narrative of Scripture, the values and ideals that it reveals into the nature of God, rather than the specifics and details. I think that the Scriptural vision must be correlated with contemporary sensibilities and current scientific findings… in my opinion this is where the strongest case for a vegetarian ethic is to be found. I would love to hear your thoughts. I wrote a blog on this subject in response to the thought that your blog stirred up on me… check it out if you have the time. http://jonoandsarah.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/christian-vegetarianism-for-dummies-part-one/#more-160

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @c3028dfb1151cc8cbd17650259d5f24d:disqus … I actually agree with you to a point.  However, just because the narrative points towards an eventual nonviolent animal kingdom (for instance) doesn’t mean that its sinful to eat meats now.  If Jesus is the full revelation of God… and he ate meat… it follows that we are also permitted to do so.  Also, realize that I am not trying to make any sort of ethical exegesis here to argue my point… I am stating what I believe to be obvious to the average reader of the Bible but then bringing light to a contemporary issue.  This post isn’t written to be “intellectually satisfying” and certainly is not a theology of food or eating.  My point is that factory farming is wrong and that we can approach this issue in a way that doesn’t lend itself to legalism.  For those more “intellectual” pieces, read the “nonviolence” “theology” or “interpretation” categories on this blog.

      On the issue of Ethics and Scripture… I think you would be glad to know that I got an “A” in that course in seminary ;-)

  • Bill Moore

    This is a great post! God not only convicted me of my life of gluttony, He also convicted me about eating animals from factory farms. I strongly believe that Christians must do our best to eat meat that does not come from these types of farms. We now buy locally and only grass fed, free roaming animals. It is more expensive, but we know it is better for the environment, our health and it is the right thing to do. This is not a poular thought among most evangelicals, but I think it is a crucial step if we are to live out a balanced and holistic Gospel.

  • Shelly

    When my in-laws came from Australia for our wedding they were AMAZED at the portion sizes of food in the restaurant! Especially for the cheap prices they were paying. A cheap plate of food at a sit down restaurant starts around $18 in Adelaide. Not counting your drinks, which are never “free refill” and cost around $3. Yet even when we lived there we ate meat with every meal. Here in Armenia, as we are entirely self funded with YWAM, we only get meat maybe once a week because we can’t afford it. We also walk pretty much everywhere. Because of this we have slimmed down, but we do need to be careful to get enough protein. Especially for our daughter. BUT the point is, our portion sizes have shrunk, the overall quantity of meat has shrunk, and we are actually the better for it. As far as the mice go- I don’t feel sorry for them because let’s face it, they are literally pests! They carry diseases, and are also part of the reason farmers need to use some form of pest control. So in my opinion releasing them to the wild doesn’t really help matters much, except for removing them from your personal sphere of life. :) 

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @d40e1d187e220ec7e6c0f07f620d4c9c:disqus … haha! Mice are pests but we ought to respect all forms of life… especially those who can feel pain.  Mice traps are quite cruel…

  • Shelly

    Just a quick question Kurt- is there some kind of networking for your area available as a resource for people who DO want to buy meat responsibly? I think most people wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to finding out where their food comes from.  Having a website, say for the Visalia area, would really help create a dialogue for local people and I think help along people who need the encouragement.  Just wondering if something like that exists???

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @d40e1d187e220ec7e6c0f07f620d4c9c:disqus … I think that in my area there are opportunities for those who purchase food at the Farmers Market.  That seems to be the easiest.  But, beyond that, all the restaurants in my town are probably purchasing meat from factory farms.  Makes it hard to eat out.  I’m not saying I *never* do, but that I typically do not order any form of meat.  On a rare occasion, i suppose I might.

      • Shelly

        That is too bad that more restaurants aren’t interested! I think Chipotle uses fresh, in season, organic ingredients. I didn’t know that until I saw a doco they were in about it.  It is very hard to find out where food comes from sometimes! Adelaide’s best pizza place is all organic, etc etc etc which is great for my vegan friends- it means we can actually eat out!

  • http://twitter.com/BobbyWrigley Bobby Wrigley

    When you think about eating ethically you must think further out than just meat. What are the negative externalities it takes to produce wheat, corn and soy products? Products from these crops are in a ton of foods that could make up a vegan diet. Think about the input of oil it takes to grow these crops, the sustainability (clear cutting, soil, ecological disruption, etc.) and other factors and what you might end up with is a system that is damaging to God’s good creation. AKA bad stewardship. 

  • Springbuffer

    I am so encouraged that there are so many concerned by the cruelty in corporate farming. My wife and I are trying to stay away from factory farm food, and are trying to be flexetarian. Maybe if enough of us switch, it will lead to real change.

  • Matt Halteman

    Some of your readers may be interested in this talk–”Blessed Are the Meek: Showing Mercy to All Creation”– by Paul Shapiro, Senior Director for Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society of the United States.

  • Matt Halteman

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