Veggies and Fireworks
On Sunday night, July 3rd, after a wonderful evening service in which I preached on the love of God (for everyone), my family and I went to Collegedale, TN, to watch fireworks. We had a wonderful, patriotic evening, complete with fresh cotton candy, hamburgers, and hot dogs. Oh, my bad…cotton candy and veggies on bread.
There are few things more “American” than a Fourth of July celebration with hamburgers and hot dogs. On the other hand, if you plan to attend an event like this in a Seventh-Day Adventist utopia (such as Collegedale), don’t plan on eating the real thing (at least not at an outdoor event where most of the vendors are church-related). Many Adventists do not eat meat (at least the ones I’ve known), nor do they typically consume any beverages containing caffeine. So, while watching fireworks this year, I ate veggies on a bun, while drinking a Dr. Pepper with no ability to keep me awake while driving home. I could have died, you know.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I thought the burgers were very tasty, and the hot dog I had wasn’t bad. As a matter of fact, the burger was excellent, especially when I added a generous sprinkling of some spices they had sitting on the table. However, the whole idea of “veggie burgers” and “veggie dogs” got me to thinking. Unfortunately, that’s what gets me into trouble.
Why Not the Real Thing?
Why don’t vegetarians eat meat? Well, according to who you ask, the reason could be anything from wanting to be healthier, to not wanting to make a cow cry. Some feel that it is their religious obligation to not eat meat, while others are just animal lovers that would rather pet a critter than chew on its leg.
Are there any health benefits from not eating beef or pork? Sure, there are some. Are there any Biblical commands regarding meat that apply to us today? I don’t think so, but others have the right to their misinterpretation (said with a wink). Regardless, many choose not to eat meat because they think it is just plain wrong. A sin. An abomination. Well….
Then Why Fake It?
Surely I am not the only one who thinks that it is a little hypocritical to condemn eating meat, only to eat things that look and taste exactly like it. It seems like an attempt to have your righteousness, while eating your sin, too. Now, I’m not talking about the strictly health-conscious folk, but the ones that think eating ol’ Bessie is akin to eating Aunt Bessie.
I don’t understand. I don’t see the point. Isn’t eating something that looks and tastes as close to the real thing sorta like saying, “I know what sin tastes like, and this tastes like sin, but it’s OK, cause it’s fake.” Is it all about flavor? Or, is it that you want your sin, but can only stomach the appearance of it? If you were only concerned with the nutritional value of a veggie burger, then why make the taste, texture, and appearance identical to the real thing? Probably because a veggie burger that looked like an ear of corn or a turnip would not have the same appeal.
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:22
It only makes sense to me that if you are going call something evil, then you should not promote its pleasures. For instance, why would a Jew, someone who is fanatically opposed to eating pork, order several slices of imitation bacon for his bagel? Why would a Vegan, who was opposed to eating beef, order something that looks, smells, tastes, and feel exactly like a hamburger? It implies that their love for the look and taste of these foods is greater than their concern for what others may think.
“Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” – 1 Corinthians 8:13
It seems to me that at the heart of the matter is a desire to try to satisfy the demands of the Law, while at the same time the desires of the flesh. The problem is that when we lust after what we can’t have, then we are guilty of the sin itself (Matt. 5:28).
This is an example of legalism at work. The legalist justifies his actions by boasting he is keeping the Law, but in his heart continues to desire the pleasures of unrighteousness; all the while, seeing himself as more right with God than his neighbor.
As a believer, do you oppose adultery, fornication, idolatry, perversion, etc.? Do you oppose demonism and witchcraft? Do you oppose abuse, rape, murder, and lawlessness of all kinds? Or do you secretly desire these things, fulfilling your fantasies through illicit music, books, and movies? No, you wouldn’t do those things, would you? But do you get as close to the experience as you can without actually consuming the meat?
Just something to think about.
Note: The above article is meant to illustrate truth through honest questions and humor. In no way do I mean to presume that every Adventist is a legalist, or that every vegetarian is off his rocker. Please forgive me if you are offended by any over-simplification of one’s food preferences. However, if you are a legalist, well, what can I say?