Are Christians to Eat Pork or Not to Eat Pork? The Case of False Bible Teachers

Feature Article Are Christians to Eat Pork or Not to Eat Pork? The Case of False Bible Teachers

Christian pastors are critically responsible for teaching their congregations based on the Bible. The Bible is the primary source of Christian teachings and contains the foundational doctrines and principles that guide Christian beliefs and practices. Pastors who lead their congregations without grounding their teachings in the Bible risk leading their followers astray and promoting false or misleading teachings.

A crucial responsibility of pastors is to ensure that their teachings align with the broader Christian tradition and the teachings of the Church. James 3:1 says, "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." This verse is a warning to those who desire to be teachers within the Christian community, emphasizing the seriousness of the responsibility of teaching the word of God. False teachers are a serious concern within the Christian community because they can lead people away from the truth of God's word and harm the faith of believers.

Recently, Rev. Sonnie Badu stirred up the hornet's nest when he declared that eating pork makes one vulnerable to witches and evil spirits. He is quoted to have written on his Facebook, "When the devil wants to get through you, he must first test your spiritual appetite. The number one way through which witches invade bodies is food. Also, the Bible declares that some animals are unclean." He asked, "What do you think an unclean animal is? In other words, when that unclean animal is found in you spiritually, it gives the witch quick access to jump in." Mr. Badu continues his unbiblical teachings with these words, "Once the demons discover you have eaten something unclean, your spirit gets subdued. Once you go to bed, they come because you gave them access."

The Scriptures warn Christians about such false teachers. In 1Timothy 4:3-4, the Apostle Paul warns Timothy about false teachers who promote asceticism and forbid people from eating certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. He writes, "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving."

When people questioned Rev. Badu about his false and misleading claims, he referred to the witches and wizards as his sources. It is frightening and surprising to hear a Christian minister basing his teachings on the words of witches and wizards instead of the word of God. When did witches and wizards become the reference manual for Christian teachings? The Bible describes Satan and his cohorts as liars, for there is no truth in them. Not only do Rev. Badu's teachings harm Christians, but they can also endanger people in the pork business. Giving false information about a product that a company is selling is generally considered unethical and can have severe legal and financial implications. This is because giving false information about a product can harm the company's reputation.

Many Christians and non-Christians are asking: Is the claim by the pastor and famous musician true or false, and are his conclusions based on the Scriptures or his imaginations or fabrications? On the one hand, if his claim is Biblically based and true, he is a true teacher of the word of God. On the other hand, if his claims are false and not based on the Scriptures, he is a false teacher of the word of God.

While some Christians may follow dietary guidelines for health or personal reasons, there is no biblical prohibition in the Bible about the eating of pork. Ultimately, what is most important to Christians is to honor God and obey His commands, which in the New Testament are summarized by Jesus as loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself. The New Testament and Jesus' teachings do not prohibit any Christian from eating "unclean animals." Nothing in the Christian Scriptures teaches that witches invade bodies through food or instruct Christians to abide by the Old Testament dietary laws.

The concept of "unclean animals" comes from the Old Testament Jewish dietary laws found in the book of Leviticus. These laws classified certain animals as "clean" and others as "unclean" and prohibited the latter's consumption. The book of Leviticus, chapter 11, lists many dietary laws, often referred to as "kosher" laws, which the Jewish people followed as part of their religious and cultural practices. One of these laws prohibits the consumption of certain animals, including pigs, because they are considered unclean. Leviticus 11:7-8 says, "And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you."

In the New Testament, the teachings of Jesus and the apostles make it clear that the dietary laws of the Old Testament no longer apply to Christians. In Mark 7:19, Jesus declares that all foods are clean, and in Acts 10, Peter receives a vision from God in which he is commanded to eat animals that were previously considered unclean. As a result, the concept of "unclean animals" does not hold the same significance for New Testament Christians as it did for Old Testament Jews.

In Acts 15, for example, there is an account of a meeting of Christian leaders in Jerusalem to discuss whether Gentile converts to Christianity needed to follow Jewish customs, including dietary laws. The decision reached at this meeting was that Gentile Christians did not need to follow these laws. For the Gentile communities, whether or not to follow Jewish dietary laws became a topic of discussion and debate. In Acts 10, Peter has a vision in which a sheet filled with various kinds of animals, including unclean animals like pigs, is lowered from heaven. A voice tells Peter to "kill and eat" (Acts 10:13), but Peter objects, saying that he has never eaten anything unclean. The voice responds by telling Peter, "What God has made clean, do not call common" (Acts 10:15).

The meaning of this vision became clear when Peter visited the home of a Gentile named Cornelius. Usually, a Jewish person like Peter would not have associated with a Gentile, but Peter goes to Cornelius' home and shares a meal with him. This experience convinces Peter that Gentiles can be part of the Christian community without following Jewish customs like dietary laws.

St. Paul, one of the most prominent figures in the early Christian Church and the author of several books in the New Testament, did not specifically address the issue of eating pork in his writings. However, his teachings on the relationship between the Old Testament law and the New Covenant provide a framework for understanding his stance on this issue. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul emphasizes that salvation is not achieved through adherence to the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.

He writes in Romans 3:28, "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." In his letters, the apostle Paul also addresses the issue of dietary laws. In Romans 14, he writes that it is acceptable for Christians to eat any food but that those who are more conservative may choose to abstain from certain foods. Therefore, while the Bible does prohibit the eating of pork for Jews in the Old Testament, this prohibition does not extend to Christians in the New Testament. St. Paul also argues in his letter to the Galatians that the Old Testament law, including dietary laws, does not bind Christians. He writes in Galatians 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

The next question is: What was the early church fathers' stance on the eating of pork? The early church fathers, who lived in the first few centuries after the birth of Christianity, generally followed the example set by the apostles in the New Testament and did not prohibit the eating of pork. For example, in his work "Against Heresies," the early Christian writer Irenaeus (c. 130-202 AD) wrote that Christians were free to eat any food, including pork, and dietary laws were not necessary for salvation.

Similarly, Tertullian (c. 155-240 AD) argued in his work "On Fasting" that the Old Testament dietary laws no longer apply to Christians. Some early church fathers did caution against overindulgence in food, including pork, as part of a broader concern for self-control and moderation. For example, Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215 AD) wrote in his work "The Instructor" that Christians should eat only what is necessary for sustenance and avoid excess.

Overall, however, the early church fathers did not view pork consumption as sinful or prohibited for Christians. They saw dietary restrictions as part of the Old Testament law that had been fulfilled in Christ and was no longer binding on believers. Moreover, no specific passage in the Bible states that eating pork is associated with demon possession. Pastors should avoid promoting doctrines or practices that contradict or undermine the core tenets of the Christian faith. They should also be open to constructive criticism and feedback from their congregations, peers, and Christian leaders to ensure their teachings are grounded in the truth and promote spiritual growth and transformation.