Q: Are the “unclean meat” dietary restrictions still applicable today?

Virtually all Christian believers today accept the principle that the ceremonial parts of the law – what we find in the five first books of the Bible – were given particularly to the people of Israel. As such, they came to an end at Calvary. Colossians 2:14 tells us that God canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. In fact, just two verses later, Paul adds: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink.

The question is: do the “food” guidelines we find in Leviticus 11 fall into this category of ceremonial law? God gave several dietary rules to his chosen nation of Israel; their meat consumption could only involve animals that 1) had a split hoof and 2) chewed the cud. Hence the ban on pork, for instance. Was this restriction merely given as part of a unique-nation ritual code, or are such meats inherently injurious to the body?

In Mark 7, Jesus was teaching his disciples and made the statement that it’s the things coming out of our souls – and mouths – which pollute! Something we take into our stomachs passes through the body quickly and soon is gone. But words and thoughts can defile and destroy. In verse 19 we find this conclusion: In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.” But no one would interpret this verse to mean that there’s nothing we can eat which wouldn’t hurt the body or destroy our health. Scientific evidence abounds, for example, for the reality that pork is a less-than-ideal food, the cause of various health maladies.

The same apostle Paul who wrote in Colossians about the ceremonial law coming to its concluding moments at the cross rightly observes in Corinthians 6 that Christians still have a high regard for healthy living. Do you not know, he writes, that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

The bottom line seems to be this: even if the Levitical code regarding food came to a end at the beginning of the Christian era, plenty of evidence exists that Israel benefitted both ceremonially and digestively as a result of heaven’s common-sense rules! Today’s believers who want to honor God by what they eat and drink will watch their diet as well as their weight . . . and even consider the benefits of keeping such a proven blueprint.