Have you ever wondered why Christians can eat pork? After all, there are 13 Bible verses about eating pork, and most of them say that Moses and his followers were forbidden from eating “swine” (pigs).
Specifically, the Old Testament of the Bible forbids the Jews from eating pork, while New Testament verses say that eating pork is OK.
Jewish people don’t recognize the New Testament, so Jews who follow their religion’s dietary laws (kashrut) don’t eat pork (and it extends to other species too).
Since Christians recognize both the Old Testament and the New Testament as the word of God, why do Christians eat pork and other forbidden foods? Let’s dive in and learn more.
3 Reasons Why Christians Can Eat Pork
If you want to eat pork, feel free to do so. Here are some of the reasons Christians can eat pork without feeling like their breaking a Biblical law.
1. Pigs Have a Better Diet.
In Biblical times, pigs ate what the writers of the Old Testament deemed as “filth.” In short, pigs will eat anything you toss at them, including feces and carrion.
Even later, people reported that pigs would eat human flesh and human waste. In short, pigs became scavengers when most forests were felled before the year 1300 A.D. The human flesh was eaten because prisoners who were executed often weren’t buried.
Today, pigs eat a much more wholesome diet of soybeans and corn, which means that the diet of commercially bred pigs is the same as that of cows. There are even pigs raised in a regenerative, organic way.
2. Scripture Allows It.
If you’re a Christ follower or devout Christian, you don’t have to abstain from eating anything, including pork.
More than one Apostle stated that Jesus said it’s not what people eat that defines who they are. It’s what comes out of their mouth and how they conduct themselves with righteousness.
3. Pigs Raised Commercially Don’t Wallow in Filth.
One of the Biblical concerns about pork was that pigs will wallow in their own feces if they’re allowed to do so.
These days, pigs raised commercially stand on slatted concrete floors, and their waste is trampled into the gutters underneath.
Christians Who Don’t Eat Pork
Certainly, people can choose individually to abstain from pork. Even the Bible allows for personal preference.
Romans 14:14 – I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
Although Christians are Biblically allowed to eat pork, some Christian sects follow the Old Testament dietary restrictions. Namely, Seventh-Day Adventists, the United Church of God, and members of the Worldwide Church of God (now called Grace Communion International) abstain from eating pork, shellfish, and other foods listed as forbidden in the Old Testament.
Reasons for abstaining from eating pork range from both religious or spiritual beliefs and healthy living standards. However, New Testament Bible verses give people the freedom to eat whatever they want.
What Does the Old Testament Say About Eating Pork?
Here are a few of the Old Testament Bible verses that forbid eating pork.
Leviticus 11: 7–8
7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you. (Source)
8 And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase. (Source)
4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels. (Source)
What Does the New Testament Say About Eating Pork?
Here are a few of the New Testament Bible verses that suggest that it’s OK to eat anything.
14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. (Source)
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Source)
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. (Source)
11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (Source)
1 Timothy 4:4
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. (Source)
15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. (Source)
9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance
11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
Why Do Jewish People Still Follow Kashrut?
Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin wrote the book “To Be a Jew” in 2019. In his book, Donin explains that dietary laws were designed to be a call to holiness.
By Donin’s way of thinking, abstaining from eating certain foods ingrains self-control and the ability to control the most primal, basic instincts.
Why Did Christians Start Eating Pork and Other Forbidden Foods?
Jesus Christ was a Jew, and he undoubtedly never let pork pass between his lips in his lifetime. Since Christians are followers of Christ, doesn’t it stand to reason that Christians should follow Jesus’s example and not eat pork?
The relationship between Christians and eating forbidden foods is complicated and controversial. The fact is, people probably started eating pork because meat sources were somewhat scarce at times. Moreover, New Testament prophets and even some of the Apostles (quoting Christ) freed people from the law, so people could eat pork without guilt.
Because they have litters instead of giving birth to just one offspring at a time, pigs were a plentiful source of meat for people. In times of food scarcity (which is most of history), being able to eat pork was surely a blessing for many people in antiquity.
FAQs about Religion and Pork
Below, we address some of the most frequently asked questions about why Christians can eat pork.
What does Christianity say about eating pork?
The books of Mark, Timothy, Matthew, Acts, and Romans all say that it’s not what goes into the body that determines a person’s goodness. According to New Testament scripture, what comes out of a person (mouth and deeds) is more important than what goes into a person (food).
In 1 Timothy 4:4, scripture also clarifies that all animals God created are good.
Why does the Bible say not to eat pork?
In the Old Testament, pork is forbidden because it is considered to be “unclean.” Pigs will eat anything. In addition to foods such as grains and nuts, they will also eat feces, human corpses, and carrion. Moreover, pigs will wallow in their own filth (feces). For this reason, the men who wrote the Old Testament (or the inspired word of God) specified that pigs were unclean because they ate things that were deemed filthy.
With that said, there have also been several other theories offered as to why the Old Testament commanded that the followers of Moses not eat pork.