OHS JJS’ most recent post touches on something I’ve been wondering about for quite a while:
why are the Gentiles prohibited from ingesting blood?
JJS is referring to Acts 15:29, but I’ve always been curious about Genesis 9:4. I mean, we 2K’ers are so fond of pointing to Gen 9 as a extra-Mosaic (Natural Law) justification for how we know murder is wrong, and the death penalty is proper. But in the immediately preceding verse, we find
But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
So on the same grounds, why aren’t 2K’ers out there advocating against eating blood? Sure, it’s gross, but does Gen 9 declare eating blood to be (self-evidently) immoral?
See also Lev 17:
If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.
Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off. And every person who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean. But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity.
Does this passage from Mosaic law help to explain the universal command in Gen 9:4, or is it N/A because it’s Mosaic? Is it ceremonial (“I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls”) or natural (just like Gen 9:4, “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life.”)? If it’s ceremonial, what does this do to the universality of our cherished Gen 9? If it’s natural, why don’t we promote it? (And what does “its blood is its life” have to do with anything? Doesn’t the fact that we’re allowed to eat the animal mean we don’t have to be concerned with its life?)
Finally, in searching for a suitable image, I discovered bricktestament.com: the Bible in Legos! In the picture above, from the illustration of the Noah’s Ark story, that’s Ham spitting out blood in response to the new commandment. Most of what I’ve peeked at seems pretty well done (i.e. faithful to the text), but don’t turn your kids loose on the website just because it’s got Legos and Bible. I suspect that the maker is not actually a Christian. He seems to have an agenda of showing how the Bible is full of violence and sex.
[Update] So maybe this will help make it real. My friend David Okken is an OPC missionary who ministers in the Karamajong region of Uganda. The diet of the Karamajong includes drinking a mixture of milk and blood (expertly and frequently drawn from live cows, as can be seen in the picture, and you can read more in the accompanying article).
So Dave has spoken at our church about how after Karamajong accept the gospel, it is difficult for him to convince Karamajong Christians to not take additional wives (he doesn’t teach them to cast off additional wives if they are already polygamous when they come to Christ), and to work for a living rather than just raiding neighboring villages for cattle, etc. Should he also be teaching them about how Nature tells us, and the Bible confirms, that eating blood is immoral and sinful?