It is alright to eat meat sacrificed to idols–sort of

In my last few posts we have been learning that the Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, forbade believers at the church of Corinth from participating in pagan rituals that involved the eating of food sacrificed to idols. He warned them strongly that it was sin for them, as believers in the One true God, to openly perform acts that could be construed as worship of false gods. However, in today’s verses, the Apostle Paul tells us that there is no need for us as Christians to ascertain the origin of food before we eat it. It is alright to eat something sacrificed to idols, as long as it is done in honest ignorance:

Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience,  for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (I Corinthians 10:25-26 NIV)

What Paul is saying here is that Christians do not need to be superstitious about eating “unholy” or “pagan” food. The idols that these foods were presented to represent gods that do not exist, there is no curse that comes from eating this food. The problem with eating this food is not that there is evil “magic” in it, but that it stains the testimony of a Christian. Any Christian who chooses, knowingly, to participate in a pagan ritual dishonors the name of the one true God. But if a Christian eats some food offered to pagan idols by accident, it is no sin. The Christian can honestly say that he did not know it was offered to the false god. He does not need to fear that the food he ate is “cursed” because the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.

To use a contemporary example, let us return to our discussion of recent days about that popular Mexican custom of eating “dead bread” to honor the souls of the deceased around Halloween. I have already stated that Christians should not eat this bread, because they are giving honor to the false Aztec religion, and dishonoring God by doing this knowingly. But if you are in a Hispanic house, and they offer you bread to eat, you may go ahead and accept the gift, without asking any questions about where it came from. Accept it thankfully and do not be overly inquisitive. But if they have made it obvious that this is “dead bread,” you should not eat it, because then you are knowingly participating in a false, pagan religion.

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