Thoughts on Kosher from Romans

Romans 14.1-23
1 Corinthians 8.1-13

During our Tuesday evening Bible study we were in Romans 14 which deals with what is proper for us to eat. Having learned to navigate through a "Sunday church" pot luck, I simply avoid those things that the Torah says not to eat. I don't make a big thing of it, perhaps asking if the brocolli salad has bacon bits. Some kind soul usually notices my choices and the game is afoot.

Kind Soul: "Don't you know that Christ has changed all that and you're now free to eat anything you want?"

Me: "Well, actually, I don't believe He did."

At this point the conversation can go a number of ways depending on the Biblical literacy and tenacity of the kind soul. If KS is devout, Biblically knowledgable and serious about his doctrine, one of the places we fetch up is in Romans 14. If the venue does not allow a deep discussion, I'll simply say that Rom 14:3 says that KS is not to judge me for what I don't eat. That allows me to terminate the conversation with a degree of grace, but typically leaves KS unsatisfied. Unsatisfied because he thinks I'm secretly judging him and that I somehow feel superior.

If the setting allows for more dialog, he might quote Rom 14:14 or Rom 14:20 where Paul says that everything is clean, or Rom 14:17 where he says that the Kingdom is not a matter of eating or drinking.

I am convinced that Romans 14 is not talking about food forbidden by the Torah, but about meat (from clean animals) that has been sacrificed to idols.

Why? If we look at 1 Cor 8, we see Paul making exactly the same argument with one small difference. The lead sentence in Corinthians starts, "Now concerning food offered to idols:". From that point, the entire discussion is directed to one who is knowledgable and understands that the offering of meat to an idol does not render such meat unclean. The knowledgable person is exhorted not to eat such meat in the presence of a brother who believes it is defiled. The reason for such restraint has nothing to do with the meat and everything to do with not placing a stumbling block in the path of a brother.

Consider how we got into this mess. Adam and Eve ate what God forbade. Paul never says that God does not care what we eat, nor does Y'shua.

So, in Romans 14 is Paul really saying that Easter ham and shrimp cocktail are now OK? I think not.