Can Christians eat Halal? (Yes, almost always)
Over the past couple years, it has occurred to me that there is still some uncertainty on whether or not it’s ok for a Christian to eat Halal Meat. My quick answer: Yes, almost always.
What is Halal Meat?
Nick Eardley (from the BBC) writes, “Halal is Arabic for permissible. Halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran.” The meat is prayed for/over during the time of the animals killing.
What does the Bible say?
In the Corinthian church there were temple’s in which meat that was used in the temple was sold for consumer consumption. I’ve heard that it was meat used by the temple. I’ve also heard that the meat was being sold in the temple. Either way, you have meat being used in a religious manner that isn’t Christian. So, can Christians eat this meat even if its used religiously by people of other faiths?
Yes, you are free to eat Halal meat.
In 1 Corinthians 8 we are reminded that we only believe in one God. In God’s eyes, food “does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” We don’t believe in other god’s so we are free to eat the meat.
Here’s the big question: Does eating food used for religious purpose mean I am participating in the religion? Paul’s answer is no. Paul wouldn’t have a problem with believers eating meat sacrificed to idols, because they weren’t participating in the worship of the idol. Likewise, Halal meat is prepared so Muslims can honour God while they eat. But the eating the meat is not the act of worship, nor is there implicated confession of Islamic faith in the consumption of the meat.
No need to be self-righteous about it though.
Just because you might have the biblically right opinion on the matter, don’t rub it in other people’s faces. While I believe that there are concrete “do’s and don’ts,” this is not one of them. Some people might be bothered about the idea that the food has religious attachments with it.
When is it ok?
Nearly any time
Basically, if you want to eat, eat it.
When is it not ok?
When you are influencing another believer to violate their conscience.
Imagine you and another Christian friend go to a restaurant. You find when you get there that the restaurant is strictly Halal. You’re ok with it, but your friend isn’t. This may not be a teaching moment. This might be an opportunity for you to lay down your freedom and order something else or somewhere else. This is especially true if they were on the fence about it, and you eating it would tip the scale of them doing something they aren’t completely comfortable with.
When you don’t think it is right.
This is easy. You think it wrong to eat Halal meat? Then it’s wrong, for you. You may have your reasons for your beliefs. Just please have some understanding that the rest of us that don’t see it the way you do.
When the partaking of the food IS the act of worship.
When Paul condemns partaking in food sacrifice to idols he is contrasting it with communion. In communion, participation is an act of worship. Believers are to worship only God and no other gods.
Let’s say you go into a religiously different home:
- Attend. Enjoy their company. Eat the food.
- If you’re wondering whether the food is religious, guess what. You don’t need to find out. Just relax and enjoy the food.
- If however they said, “Let’s eat this food in worship to our god,” then and only then should you speak up and politely refuse.
The reason is, if the action of eating has been defined as the act of worship and you participate. You might be sending the wrong message, namely that it is ok to worship Jesus and someone else.
Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear them below.
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