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March 29, 2013: An Easter thought - Christianity and vegetarianism

Originally posted on this blog.

Many Christians (and especially ex-Christians) who have embraced vegetarianism for ethical reasons, are disillusioned with what they perceive to be Christianity's negative or, at best, ambiguous take on our interaction with the rest of the animal world. After all, vegetarians are always told that "even Christ ate fish", that the Bible does not prohibit the eating of meat anywhere, but rather has passages which clearly demonstrate that the consumption of meat is seen as OK.

While there has been quite a bit written about this (see, for example Christianity and a Vegan diet), I wanted to list some personal reasons why it is, in fact, possible, and even preferable, to be a vegetarian/vegan Christian. First of all, it is OK not to take everything in the Bible literally. There are, in fact, a lot of things that are in there, details, that would be seen as more than a little strange (or violent) if taken word for word. The second point, related to the first, is that we should avoid "not seeing the forest for the trees", but, instead, try to get to the heart of the teaching, to what the main message is. I see the teachings of Jesus Christ as being full of love, compassion, and forgiveness. Sure, he was prone to outbursts of anger and did sometimes sound vengeful (though many scholars attribute some of the latter to the personalities of some of his disciples coming through, as opposed to that of Christ himself). Still, taken as a whole, this was a kind man, a man who forgave sins, and man who took care of those around him, a helper and a healer. With all of this, I ask myself: What would this compassionate man think of our modern cruel factory farming methods responsible for the death and suffering of millions of animals daily? Would he approve? I am pretty sure he would not. In fact, I'm pretty sure he would be appalled by the lack of empathy that we have for the creatures with whom we share the world. I believe that had he seen the way we currently abuse and kill other animals en masse, he likely would have said more about our relationship with the rest of the animal world.

I think that Jesus' message is ultimately a positive one: To love and help one another, to forgive, and to try to live a righteous life. This Easter, when we remember the man and his teachings, my hope is that we we will try to incorporate these teaching into our interaction with other animals as well as into our interaction with other people.

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