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Does God Care What We Eat?

Are the Old Testament's strict food laws relevant for today's church? Absolutely, says Messianic Jewish author Hope Egan.
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The petite, 5-foot-4 woman stepped up to the podium at a Chicago church and lowered the microphone; her auburn curls framed the gentle smile on her face. Hope Egan doesn't look like a revolutionary, but her book, Holy Cow! Does God Care About What We Eat?, and her passionate endorsement of Old Testament food laws for today's New Testament Christians have been stirring up discussion wherever she goes.

This crowd of 200 Christian women listened intently as Egan shared her struggles with compulsive eating, her discovery of a "biblically kosher" diet, and God's role in the journey.

"I was consumed with thoughts of food," she began. At work, she visited the candy machine several times a day. Though she sat at the same table when eating with others, she wasn't fully present. Instead, she fixated on the food, obsessing about something as simple as a plate of cookies: How many should I eat? We each get three, but I've already eaten my three; there won't be enough if I eat more. Why aren't they eating their share of the cookies? Don't they like these cookies? Will anyone notice if I eat just one more?

Faith in Food

Hope grew up in a secular Jewish community where faith was more cultural than religious. "When I was little, I remember asking my parents whether we were Jewish or Christian because I would forget," she says.

Like most of her Jewish girlfriends, she attended synagogue, took Hebrew lessons, and had a Bat Mitzvah. For Hope, the best part of synagogue was the location—across the street from Carson's Ribs, home of her favorite meal. While the family dabbled in celebrating religious holidays, Hope's memories are of the food, not the faith. "God just wasn't on our radar screen," she says.

Hope's food issues affected those who loved her. As a CPA, she was analytical about balancing input and output. Knowing that she could maintain her weight through compulsive exercise, she would forsake time with friends and family to spend it in the gym.

"If it was sweet, I couldn't have it in the house," she recalls. She didn't stop after one doughnut or cookie; she ate the whole box or bag. "I would throw food into the trash and then later pull it out and eat it." She learned to take drastic steps like pouring water on food before throwing it away.

Hope thought she was in control until a car accident left her unable to exercise. Frustrated by her food compulsions and fearful of gaining weight, she joined a 12-step program—Overeaters Anonymous. The first three steps involved admitting she was powerless over food, acknowledging a higher power, and giving Him control.

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Related Topics:Bible; Food; Self-control

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February 04, 2013  3:54pm

As a Christian who has followed the dietary laws of Lev 11 all my life, I would concur with Gerald White's comment regarding Peter's vision. This vision was given to Peter to show that the Gospel and Salvation was now open to the Gentiles. It is in no way a vision to show one could eat any living creature. Peter when told to eat, is at first repulsed and states he has never eaten any of these things...later he understands what the vision was about. We can also make note that Peter being close to Jesus during his entire ministry of at least 3-1/2 years was there when Jesus spoke those words quoted in Mark 7:18-23 Verses 18 & 19. One would think he and the other disciples would have questioned this comment as it directly violated "The Law". I certainly would have! However, after the death and ressurection of Jesus, Peter still thought it wrong, many days, months and perhaps years later.

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February 01, 2013  5:22pm

I think the verses from Acts 10:10-16 about Peter’s vision are not the right ones to consider when it comes to dietary issues for Christians. The ones we should look at are – Mark 7:18-23 Verses 18 & 19 state …Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” Also, Acts 15: 22-29. The main verses being 28 & 29 - For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. I understand if Hope feels abiding by these laws is right for her, due to her cultural heritage and her issues with food. Fine as well if people decide to follow the laws for health reasons, but I don’t think it is a biblical requirement for everyone today.

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January 31, 2013  12:29am

“‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you. You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own." Leviticus 20:25-26. If you are a Messianic Jew you are obligated to follow the Kosher rules as God has set you apart from the rest of us, Christian or not. By definition of set apart, the gentiles are not obligated to keep Kosher.

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