23 July 2020  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

Recently at a stand where I buy delicious fruit pies, an older clerk who was waiting on me took a phone call. The side of the conversation I could hear went like this:

“Religious reasons, you say? Oh. OK, I’ll check.” 

She left to talk to the bakers making the pies. Returning, she tells the phone-in customer,

“Yes, it’s lard.”

The clerk then says to the customer waiting to be rung up, “I never knew lard is pork.”

I was listening with interest. I knew lard was from pigs, but didn’t know the pies had lard in them. I like those pies. Can I never eat them again, Aunt Sevvy?

Signed, Porked Out

Dear Porked,

There may be some good reasons not to eat food with lard in it, but Christian reasons aren’t among them. 

Even though it’s a well-known pillar of Adventist teaching, the avoidance of the unclean foods of Leviticus 11 won’t stand up to the New Testament’s teaching on the topic. Such things were prohibited to Jews, but Jesus and Paul—Jews both—dismissed food as a test of spirituality. Both warned against judging people by what they eat. Ellen White made statements both for and against eating “swine’s flesh,” but she mostly bypassed the clean-unclean meat issue in favor of vegetarianism—though there’s evidence she adhered strictly to neither. Most Adventists don’t realize that prohibition of unclean meats wasn’t made a doctrine until after Ellen White’s death. 

Aunty believes that far too much has been made of food among Seventh-day Adventists. Jesus says in Matthew 18:17-20, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person.…” 

In other words, a bit of lard is hardly the spiritual problem that evil words and deeds are. Yet how much more Adventists worry about food than about kindness and justice! How many others have fled Adventist congregations after being criticized over minor things like food and appearance!

Of course, just because something isn’t prohibited by the Bible doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Animal flesh isn’t always the healthiest food available, and there are huge ethical and environmental concerns about the way livestock are raised, treated, and slaughtered. 

But let’s not get health and spirituality mixed up. As Paul says, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking” (Romans 14:17). If you’ve no objection to that tiny bit of lard, eat your fruit pies with “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

And in the spirit of Jesus, buy one for each of your neighbors.

Aunt Sevvy

You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without identities. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and neither her opinions nor those of her correspondents are necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.

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