One of the benefits of living in a Christian country is the freedom we enjoy to eat anything and everything. We enjoy this freedom because we are a Christian nation, rooted and grounded in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, who abolished all the dietary laws of Judaism.
I set off a bit of a firestorm over the weekend by tweeting out a simple message, that the fact we openly serve and sell bacon in America is further evidence, nay, proof, that we are a Christian nation by history, heritage and values. For stating this obvious and uncontestable fact, I was attacked and pilloried by the New Yorker from the left and Reason.com from the libertarian right.
But it is a perfectly legitimate question: Why are we free to openly sell and serve bacon and all kinds of pork products, when they are verboten where kosher and halal law is in force? Easy. It’s because we are a Christian nation and not a Jewish or Muslim one.
American restaurant chains in Israel are forbidden to serve pork products, so good luck getting your Sausage McMuffin with Egg. None of the major supermarkets in Israel, which must stay kosher to stay open, sell pork products.
And, of course, in Muslim lands halal rules make pork forbidden. Even lapsed Muslims often carry with them a lifetime aversion to pork products.
While there are, of course, places in Israel and Muslim lands where kosher and halal are observed more in the breach than in the observance, the fact remains that the law is the law. The law may be ignored with a wink and a nod, but it’s still the law.
But not in America. Why is that? The gastronomic freedom which Christian countries enjoy and Jews and Muslims do not is rooted in one verse of Scripture: Mark 7:19, which says of Jesus, “Thus he declared all foods clean.” Instantly, Jesus set aside all Jewish dietary restrictions (as well as all halal restrictions prospectively).
It is what comes out of a man that defiles him, said Jesus, not what goes into him. That Christian value has undergirded our culinary mores as a people since our founding, just as Israel has been kosher since 1406 BC and Muslim lands have been halal since 632 AD.
This principle that all foods are clean (or permissible), is underscored in Acts 10 when Peter receives a vision from heaven in which he sees a sheet lowered from heaven filled with Jewishly-unclean animals. When Peter refuses God’s directive to “rise, Peter, kill and eat,” God rebukes him: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15, NIV).
In Galatians 2, Paul rebukes Peter for withdrawing from table fellowship with Gentile Christians because they weren’t observing Jewish food restrictions. And Paul makes clear in Romans 14 that food is now a matter of individual choice and conscience for the Christian, not dietary law.
In 1 Timothy 4, Paul grants expansive nutritional liberty to Christians, and by logical implication, to Christian nations. “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5).
Enormous pressure is being put on America to honor kosher rules in our prisons and impose halal rules everywhere. In Vermont, a restaurateur had to pull down a sign advertising his bacon because one Muslim objected. The restaurateur cited “safety” concerns if he did not comply. In Vermont!
A poor customer in a KFC restaurant in Australia was subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse by a Muslim cashier for being religiously insensitive enough to ask for bacon on her chicken sandwich.
Bottom line: Dietary rules in any culture are rooted in religious principle. Jewish nations have restrictions because of Judaism. Muslims nations have restrictions because of Islam. Christian nations have no restrictions because of Christianity. I, for one, am grateful to live in a Christian nation. And atheists who love their ham and eggs have reason to be grateful too.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)