Diet and Religion - RR172L22

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Diet and Religion
Course: Course - Leviticus; The Law of Holiness and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 22
Length: 0:28:02
TapeCode: RR172L22
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Leviticus The Law of Holiness and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by permission of the Chalcedon Foundation

Let us worship God. Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Let us pray.

Oh Lord our God, our Heavenly Father, We, Thy children, come into Thy presence, rejoicing in Thy mercies and Thy grace. WE come to Thee to cast our every care upon Thee, who carest for us. Lord, the ungodly rage and take counsel together against Thee, against Thy Son and against Thy kingdom. We beseech Thee oh Lord to bring judgment upon the speedily, to deliver us in Thy righteousness and raise up a great and mighty people unto Thyself. Bless us in Thy service. Give us patience, faith, hope, and charity as we deal with those around us. Now bless us by Thy Word and by Thy Spirit and grant us Thy peace. In Christ’s name, amen.

Our scripture today is Leviticus 12. Or, rather, Leviticus 11:29-47. Leviticus 11:29-47, “Diet and Religion.” [00:02:21]

29 These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind,

30 And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.

31 These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even.

32 And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed.

33 and every earthen vessel” (that is, porous pottery),” whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.

34 Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean.

35 And everything whereupon any part of their carcass falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you.

36 Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcass shall be unclean.

37 And if any part of their carcass fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean.

38 But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcass fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you.

39 And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcass thereof shall be unclean until the even.

40 And he that eateth of the carcass of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcass of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.

41 And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten.

42 Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination.

43 Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth; neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.

44 For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

45 For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

46 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowls, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:

47 To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.”

Most of the comments on Leviticus 11 by Biblical scholars are embarrassing to read. We are told that these laws were given just because there was a lack of refrigeration in those days. Most of these laws cannot be related to any lack of refrigeration. Another seminary professor sees the laws as symbolic in their meaning, and he writes for example, “In Leviticus 11, meditation which is pictured by chewing the cud, is a primary mark of cleanness.” Well, if God wanted us to meditate, He wouldn’t give us these animals and say, “Understand that this is the meaning of it.” He would’ve said, “Meditate!” This is the kind of absurdity that is so commonplace. And yet they assure us, these people, that, “{?} the strongest aspect of the dietary regulations is symbolic.” [00:06:46]

One Dutch scholar, ...

One Dutch scholar, {?}, is wiser. He says, “Implicit in these verses is the notion that uncleanness was something contagious.” Leviticus has given us the basic laws concerning sanitation and contagion which have governed Christendom and greatly furthered the protection of society. Some of the regulations set forth in these verses are,

  1. Dead animals and insects pollute. They can carry contagion. Whatever they touch must be washed and the person must bathe before nightfall, or at nightfall
  2. Porous pottery must be broken. What can be washed must be, but porous items can absorb infection.

  3. Death is a form of pollution; it comes from ailments. It’s not a natural fact of creation, but a product of the fall and hence, it means something is wrong. As a general rule, death is seen as involving disease, and hence cleansing is the rule.

  4. All creeping things: mice, rats and the like, are forbidden as food.

  5. Physical contact can convey contagion.

  6. Health is a goal of holiness. Because the resurrection of the body is our future. Now, this does not mean sickness is sin, but that it is a result of a fallen and sinful world. We must seek holiness and health. God requires this of us as His right over us.

A great many of these regulations and others came into particular rule, although widely observed in Christendom, with Romanticism. Romanticism also revived ancient dietary rule—ah, ideas, and gave them more prominence—pagan dietary ideas. The reason for it was that Romanticism reduced life to feeling. It had a basic hostility to rules and to regulations. I think it’s a very interesting fact that one of the things that suddenly came to the fore with the rise of Romanticism was Tuberculosis. No one has bothered to study that fact, although some commentators have noted that there was a coincidence. Nobody has explored it. But the fact is, Romanticism began to deny the validity of all kinds of rules, rules that the Bible had set down with regard to health and to sanitation. It reduced life to feeling. It was hostile to Law. It regarded the orderly life of Law as repressive and at best, inferior. The nature of man was said to reveal itself in passions, not in the submissive life of virtue, law, and reason. [00:10:37]

Now the effect of Romanticism was very strong on the...

Now the effect of Romanticism was very strong on the churches where these things had been observed. Romanticism lead to feelings replacing ancient orthodoxies, so that everything was thrown out and still is regarded as invalid.

The rise of modern medical technology and the emphasis on health has led to a dramatic improvement in this century in health care. But basically, the major change has been in that childhood diseases have been overcome; that’s where the real major breakthrough has come. But the attitude toward these things continues in the vein of Romanticism.

About thirty years ago, one Jewish writer on the dietary laws observed, “There is a well-known story about a rabbi, who upon coming to a new congregation, was taken aside by the president, and in a friendly manner advised not to talk about certain topics from the pulpit:

  • Hebrew schools, because the children had to take music and dancing lessons and needed the afternoons for play.
  • The Sabbath, because in America, one was compelled to work on the Sabbath to make a living, and making a living came first.

  • The dietary laws, kashrut, because it was only an ancient health measure, out of place in modern times and furthermore, too much trouble for the women to bother with two sets of dishes.

The rabbi, surprised at the counsel he was receiving, asked anxiously, ‘If I cannot talk about Hebrew Schools and I cannot talk about the Sabbath and I cannot talk about kashrut, what can I talk about?’ The president replied in mild astonishment, ‘Why, there’s no problem at all, Rabbi! Just talk about Judaism!’” This story, bitter though it may sound, reflects a good deal of what is passed for Jewish light in the past decades of America. [00:13:07]

Now unhappily, this same story can be duplicated in...

Now unhappily, this same story can be duplicated in Christian churches. Many, many pastors have been told when they go to a church, not to preach about the Law, not to preach from the book of Romans (it’s too controversial), not to use the Ten Commandments in the service, as some churches for centuries required, and so on.

Faith has been separated from life and action and reduced to feeling. And people today identify themselves as Jews and Christians who are ignorant of the essentials of their faith. And we see this, the substitution of feelings for faithfulness in every sphere of life. Over and over again, I’ve encountered men and women who have destroyed their marriage, who have committed every kind of offence against the husband or wife, still feel that all kinds of actions can be wiped out by the simple statement, “But I love her!” or “But I love him!” I’ve even encountered that no only when there has been unfaithfulness, but on reproach, a man has knocked out his wife’s tooth, he’s beaten her so badly. And yet he’s convinced that he’s a very loving husband. Feeling replaces faithfulness. This is Romanticism.

Others have substituted tradition for Law. Some groups in Judaism early became very rigid; extreme in their interpretations of the Laws, seeking in effect, to be holier than God. And the same has been true in the churches.

The precision of God’s Law has as its purpose, our welfare, and to command simple, uncomplicated obedience. When the Law was given to Moses on the mount, and he was summoned up, there were certain requirements made of the people, preparatory to receiving the covenant law. In Exoduse19:14-16, we read,

  1. They were to consecrate themselves to God in order to prepare to receive God’s law.
  2. They were to don freshly-washed clothes for the new relationship,

  3. They were to avoid associating the Covenant with fertility rites, hence there was to be no sexual relations for the time being.

Now, this simple statement, three requirements, has been used to justify all kinds of things, to down-grade marriage, to justify asceticism, and so on and on; and to depict matter as bad. God’s requirement is very simple. We’re not to read hidden meanings into these things. [00:16:54]

God says, “Ye shall be holy, for I am holy...

God says, “Ye shall be holy, for I am holy.” Holiness is freedom from sin and conformity to God and His Law, with all our heart, mind and being, in word, thought and deed. It is a consequence of grace; a consequence of God’s working in us. We are commanded by the New Testament to follow peace with all men, without which no man shall see the Lord. And diet is an aspect of holiness for we are to follow peace and holiness.

Every major religion in history has had dietary laws: Judaism, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and so on. In other so-called primitive cultures, there are also food taboos which are commonplace for a variety of meanings. All over the world there are ceremonies of eating. Sacredness is often attached to shared foods because it means a sharing of life. In some instances, the marriage ceremony has involved sharing a meal together because it is an act of communion. And so eating is involved in communion with God, and hence dietary laws. Eating a meal has also meant a common ratification of an alliance. Food is often a type of life, of salvation, of Christ. One famous Welsh hymn says, among other things, “Guide me, oh Thou Great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak, but Thou art mighty, hold me with Thy powerful hand. Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more. Feed me till I want no more.” The Old Testament has its shewbread; the New Testament, the sacramental bread. And the relationship of food to religion is a very, very ancient and natural one, as well as a supernatural one. It is so close of one, although forgotten by our time. [00:19:51]

That many doctrines point to it that are basic in the...

That many doctrines point to it that are basic in the life of the church: consubstantiation and transubstantiation recognize food as representing certain very important things—the body of Christ. So that they see material food and spiritual food as closely linked. Whether or not we agree with transubstantiation or consubstantiation, we must recognize that in every religion, food is regulated, is an aspect of the life of faith.

The current wide-spread separation of diet from religion is an unusual fact in history because religion is total in its relevance. Diet is a normal aspect of religious regulations, particularly when the Biblical rules have been so demonstrably important in maintaining life and health. This neglect is amazing. It is interesting that G. Campbell Morgan said of Leviticus 11, “It may at least be affirmed that these requirements were based on the soundest laws of health. God who perfectly understands the physical structure of Man knows what is good and what is harmful. There can be little doubt that a careful examination of these provisions will demonstrate the sanitary wisdom of them all.” Not too long ago, a woman took legal steps against a church which either suspended or excommunicated her for adultery. Her attitude was expressed very bluntly and she went to court on it; “What has God to do with my sex life?” If God’s purpose in Christ is to provide us with fire and life insurance and no more, then God has nothing to do with our sex life or our diet. Then, too, we have only an imaginary God, not the sovereign and triune Lord and Creator.

Let us pray.

Oh Lord our God we give thanks unto Thee that Thy care for us extends to all our being. Make us ever mindful that Thy Word is a word of grace and of love and of mercy to us and altogether for our good. In Christ’s name, amen. [00:22:48]

Are there any questions now about our lesson?...

Are there any questions now about our lesson?


[Audience] The divisions of society … dividing male and female and, Zen, the Zen Buddhists have a diet which is followed by those that follow Zen {?} and they see nothing intrusive about {?} in fact, they, ah, think it’s pretty noble. But I saw some in New York and they looked like living skeletons because I think the diet’s not a very good one.

[Rushdoony] No, the Zen Buddhist’s diet has real penalties. If you’re a monk, you can perhaps thrive on it, because you don’t exert yourself enough. But, ah, I’ve had people tell me it has led to some health problems for them. But religions do have dietary regulations, and it tells us how far gone the invasion of religion by the State is, in that the State feels that really, there is no domain for religion now. Mental health, and that sort of thing, value education, the school goes into; it has pre-empted the church’s activity there, and dietary rules are less and less respected so that people who try to observe them in some cases, run into trouble, although there is still some regard for them in a few areas of public life.


[Audience] Well, the various states actually hire rabbis to supervise kosher food so that it’s not wrongfully labeled kosher, and that’s a rather astonishing instance of State and religious cooperation, which apparently has not aroused the ACLU! [00:25:16]

[Rushdoony] Yes, it has not...

[Rushdoony] Yes, it has not. But, ah, the hope I heard expressed some years ago by some liberal was that the Orthodox Jew and the Amish were relics of the past and need not be bothered because they were disappearing. However, I think that was misapprehension on his part. But that has been the attitude. We are seeing now a hostility to the Mennonites and Amish increasingly, and in one Eastern state (I think possibly New Jersey) there was an attempt to strike at the Orthodox Jews, and Rutherford had a hand in defeating that by putting voting on Saturdays; so there’s been at least one feeler in that direction. They’re finally going to tolerate no divergence from their established mode. There’s going to be a total hostility to all variance. They’re not going to wait for them to die out as they had hoped they would.

Any other questions?

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Oh Lord our God, be Thou merciful unto Thy suffering saints the world over, the oppressed behind the Iron Curtain, and this side of the Iron Curtain, those persecuted and in court in this country and elsewhere. May Thy judgment move against these workers of iniquity. Now Lord grant us Thy peace and mercy, this day and always, and make us ever more strong in Thee. Now go in peace. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:27:39]