ARE CHRISTIANS PROHIBITED TO CONSUME BLOOD?

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Pork Blood Stew (Dinuguan)

The Holy Bible’s very first prohibition against consuming blood comes in the book of Genesis (9:2-4), where God told Noah, “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.” But what does it mean? Is it an absolute prohibition on the consumption of blood as what the anti-Catholics argued?

This prohibition was most likely a ban on eating raw blood (i.e., uncooked meat). For the ancient time, animals were an allowable food source, and God was making sure that Noah would not eat them raw. In fact, a Jewish Targum commented on this verse: “But the flesh which is torn from a living beast at the time that its life is in it, or which is torn from a beast while it is slain, before all its breath is gone out, ye shall not eat.”

Later, the said prohibition in the book of Genesis was re-stated in the Law of Moses. The book of Leviticus (17:14) gave the reason behind of that command: “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life.”

Now, it is important to understand that the New Testament believers in Christ have freedom from the Law, and thus, they are to “stand firm” in that liberty (cf. Galatians 5:1). For Christians are no longer under the Law but under grace. So it is written: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink” (Colossians 2:16).

Moreover, in the book of Acts of the Apostles (chapter 15), a question arose in the early church concerning what was necessary for salvation. Specifically, did a Gentile need to be circumcised in order to be saved (verse 1)? The issue came up in the church in Syrian Antioch, which had a mixture of Jewish and Gentile converts. To address this important issue, the leaders of the church met in Jerusalem for the very first local church council. They concluded that Gentiles did not need to follow the Mosaic Law — circumcision is not part of salvation (verse 19). However, in verse 29, the leaders compose a letter with these instructions for the Gentiles in Antioch: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” These four commands from Jerusalem to Antioch all dealt with pagan practices associated with idolatry. Most, if not all, of the Gentile converts in Antioch were saved out of paganism. The church leaders were exhorting the new Gentile believers to make a clean break from their old lifestyles and not offend their Jewish brothers and sisters in the church. The instructions were not intended to guarantee salvation but to promote peace within the early church. And that was only a termporary pastoral provision suggested by St. James, bishop of Jerusalem, for the main purpose of keeping the Jewish converts from being scandalized by the conduct of Gentile Christians.

Later, St. Paul dealt with the same issue. According to him, it is perfectly all right to eat meat offered to idols because “Nothing is unclean in itself” (cf. Romans 14:14). But if eating that meat causes a brother in Christ to violate his conscience, as what St. Paul said “I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall” (1 Corinthians 8:13). Indeed, it is not a matter of dietary prohibition but an admonition for a brother’s sake. Remember one’s conscience is a sacred thing, and we dare not act against it (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:7-12 and Romans 14:5). But does it mean that Catholics should not eat foods with blood when there are non-Catholics who could see them? The answer is absolutely no unless they are in the presence of a Muslim, an Adventist, an INC member, etc. who just recently converted to the Holy Catholic Church — that is to save their conscience from being scandalized at first but they must be totally taught to gradually accept the truth. EAT WITH NO MALICE.

In the 10th chapter (v. 25-30) of the same letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul added: “Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.’ If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?'”

The anti-Catholics must asked themselves this same question: “If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?” Our Lord Jesus Christ reminded His flock (Mark 7:18-19): “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?” Again, the Lord was very clear on this: whatever is eaten couldn’t make anyone unclean. Therefore, to the heretics and apostates: WHO ARE YOU THEN TO CONDEMN THE CATHOLICS FOR WHAT THEY EAT? Remember, “Food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (1 Corinthians 8:7). St Paul made this straight: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval” (Romans 14:17-18).

And finally, in the New Testament, the blood of an animal has no more sacrificial significance, for life is absolutely in the Blood of Christ. In the Gospel according to Matthew (15:17-20), Jesus declared that all foods, including animal blood, are “clean” and that to eat them is not a sin. This was emphasized to St. Peter in a vision, in which “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean” (Acts 10:15). What concerns Jesus was not the external ritual purity, which came from things like circumcision and ritual hand washing, but purely on internal purity from sin which comes from living a morally upright life in God’s grace (cf. Matthew 23:13-36). Before, the Israelites could not eat animal blood because it contained the animal’s life, but now there is one Person whose life all must have, “Christ who is your life” (Colossians 3:4).

If consuming blood is prohibited, why would Jesus command His disciples to drink His blood? Indeed, Christ with this command did not break God’s law. The same goes with the Catholics when they consume the blood of Christ and other foods with blood in them. Because the command against drinking blood, and all of the Old Testament dietary regulations, has passed away, for “These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink” (Colossians 2:17, 16).

And the most important thing is, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

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