Day four: After the flood

“Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” Genesis 9:3

The best steak I ever had was at a restaurant in Springfield known for its seafood.

Jason and I were out on a date, and I wasn’t really in the mood for fish. So I ordered a big, juicy rib-eye. It was buttery and seared on the outside and tender and pink on the inside. It melted in my mouth. I passed along my compliments to the chef, who turned out to be an 18-year-old with no formal training. But man, did that boy know how to cook a steak.

I have been a meat-eater for as long as I can remember. It has never even occurred to me to cut meat out of my diet. I like to eat chicken and turkey and pork. I like to eat hamburgers and hot dogs. And I love me some nice, juicy steak. The rest of my family are big meat-eaters, too. In fact, when Jason and I got married, I learned pretty quickly that I couldn’t make something without meat and call it “dinner.” No Meatless Mondays for us.

As a kid, I always assumed that there was biblical justification for this diet, since God gave Adam and Eve dominion over animals. It wasn’t until I started seriously studying the Bible for myself—probably in high school or college, that I discovered that Adam and Eve had a plant-based diet, and that it wasn’t until after the flood that Bible records God allowing his creation to eat meat.

Scholars vary widely in their interpretation of this passage. Some say that the new dietary allowances were a way of sealing the covenant God made with Noah after the flood. Some believe that society had degraded to the point that cannibalism was an accepted practice, and this was God’s way of prohibiting the generations to come from engaging in that behavior.

Now this is just my opinion, because the biblical evidence doesn’t really favor any one of these interpretations over the other, but the reasoning I find most believable is that God made this allowance because in the post-flood ecology of the world, a vegetarian diet would no longer be sufficient to meet the needs of the human body.

I’m not a dietician, and vegetarians, please feel free to disagree with me, but I think that red meat, poultry, and seafood are all part of a healthy and balanced diet. But regardless of whether or not you choose to eat meat, it’s pretty obvious that since the flood humans are not expected to live without it.

However, we would do well to remember that Noah’s steak didn’t come shrink-wrapped from his nearest Harter House. It came off the ark mooing. He fed it and cared for it, and then slaughtered it before eating it.

Would you still be willing to eat meat if you had to kill it yourself? I know a lot of Americans who probably would not.  Looking into the face of the animal that will be your next meal, and finding the strength of will (and of stomach) to take its life, must be humbling.

After reading this account of Noah after the flood over and over again, and trying to make heads or tails of it, I’m starting to think that humility was what God had in mind when he gave this command to Noah. I don’t think God intended from us to be so far removed from where our food comes from – that we could go into the grocery store and load our carts up with bacon and chicken wings and ground beef, and make dinner for our families without ever once considering the fact that what we are putting in our mouth is something that God created and gave life.

Hear me on this: I’m not saying we shouldn’t eat meat. I’m just saying I think we should pause a moment to thank God for it, and to respect that this was never a part of his perfect plan for us.

Whether or not you are a fan of the hit show Duck Dynasty, you have to admit, they’re not squeamish. They kill all manner of creatures on the show, and then eat them for dinner at the end of the episode. But they always pray first, because they know their food comes from God.

Let’s be people who, when we sit down to eat our meat and potatoes, have hearts that say something like this:

“Father, we thank you for the woods. We thank you for the water. And we thank you for the things that live in them. Thank you for blessing us tonight, especially with this good meal. Amen.” – Phil Robertson (“Redneck Logic,” episode five of Duck Dynasty)

Amen.

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This post is part of a 31-day series. A list of all the other posts in this series can be found here.

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