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Do I have to be a vegetarian to be saved?


Do I have to be a vegetarian to be saved?

Steve Answers:

Are you serious? Are you really wondering if you have to be
a vegetarian in order to be saved?

Let’s check out a few verses about salvation from Scripture and see how we might need to change the Bible to make it say that you have to be a vegetarian to be saved.

• “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Change to: “For by vegetarianism you have been saved through diet, and that’s all you; it has nothing to do with God, so you can boast about yourself.”

• “Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone” (Acts 4:12, CEV).1 Change to: “Only vegetarianism has the power to save! This diet is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.”

• “You . . . are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority” (Colossians 2:10, NLT).2 Change to: “You are complete once you become a vegetarian. Then you can lord it over every other person in the universe.”

• “This is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God”

(1 John 5:11-13). Change to: “This is the testimony: that we can get eternal life ourselves, and this life comes through vegetarianism. He who is a vegetarian has life; he who is not a vegetarian does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in vegetarianism, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in vegetarianism.”

Do you get the point? Making vegetarianism a necessary step in salvation puts it in Jesus Christ’s place. When you do that, you’ve made vegetarianism an

Salvation is a gift from God. The challenge is to trust—to have faith—that God provides it. As the real Ephesians 2:8, 9 says, salvation is a gift and not something we earn. This doesn’t make being a vegetarian bad. I’m a vegetarian myself. But vegetarianism doesn’t save me.

Allow me to reverse your question: Is salvation given only to vegetarians? You might know some vegetarians with no connection whatsoever to Christ. They might even live longer than meat eaters, but they won’t live forever. The only way a human being can live forever is to receive eternal life from Jesus.

Vegetarianism is likely to give you a better quality of life right now, too. There are plenty of advantages to being a vegetarian. But salvation isn’t one of them. John wrote: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). But the physical health he mentions is in addition to the spiritual health he wrote about.

If you believe that only vegetarians will be in heaven, then Jesus won’t be there. Not only did Jesus multiply meat and have His disciples distribute it to the masses (see John 6:11), but Jesus Himself ate meat, and He did it after He was resurrected (see Luke 24:41-43)!

If only vegetarians will be able to go to heaven, God will have to exclude a lot of His chosen people. Starting with the first Passover in Egypt, God commanded each Israelite family to kill a lamb and spread the blood on the doorposts. You might have heard that story before (see Exodus 12:3-14). God also told them to eat the meat that night (see Exodus 12:8), and they were to repeat this ceremony each year! Does that mean that none of them will be in heaven?

When I was a teenager, my older sister got married. A few years later she started to wear a wedding ring.  I knew that she wouldn’t go to heaven, because she was wearing a wedding ring. I can’t remember anybody ever actually saying, “If you wear a wedding ring, you won’t go to heaven,” but somehow I came up with that idea. I’m wondering if a similar thing has happened to you with vegetarianism. Back then if I had written to Insight, my question for the On the Case columnist would have been Do I have to not wear a wedding ring to be saved?

We could compare the same Bible texts and insert “wedding ring” in place of “vegetarianism.” Or some people might put it in place of “Jesus.” The answer would be the same—salvation is a gift from Jesus. It’s not based on vegetarianism or lack of jewelry.

By the way, I’m in favor of vegetarianism! The principle is to eat the healthiest food you can. Depending on your situation, that might mean being a vegetarian. It might mean eating meat. The reason to be physically healthy is that your body belongs to God, and your physical health is part of the bigger picture of being a whole person physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, spiritually. That just makes sense.

Making vegetarianism a step for salvation is an example of taking a good thing too far. If you want eternal health, give as much emphasis to your spiritual health as serious vegetarians give to their physical health.

1Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

2Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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