Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Digging Deep In Deuteronomy - Don't Devour Goat-Cheese Burgers

Deuteronomy 14v21b contains the famous verse: "You shall not boil a kid in its mothers' milk." This, of course, is refering to goats.

What is this all about? Is it just further proof that the all these old laws are outdated and unncessary for our world? Or is there something more profound and relevant going on? Let's go with the second option. This command is the final one in a chapter long series of dietary decrees: God was outlining which foods were permissible to eat and which were not, including some preparation guidelines. An ancient form of PETA and OSHA, ha!

I've read several insightful comments on this verse over the years, and the one I like best understands this verse under the sense of "respect" for animals. Back in Genesis, God gave the instructions that humanity was to rule over the earth, to steward it and care for it. When it comes to raising animals for food, does it matter how those animals are treated? Are are they just "alive" meat, just a future dinner walking around? Or is there something sacred about animals? Is there something inherently cruel about preparing a baby goat for a meal using the life-nurturing liquid that it's own mother provided originally to give life, which is now it's liquid of death? God says yes.

This command has famously been given to illustrate the extreme efforts some religious Jews will go to to keep meat and dairy products separate, as well as other kinds of foods. If you take this verse too literally, you get too legalistic. If you ignore this verse, you get too disrespectful.

My notes in the Jewish commentary say this about the verse:
"Meat boiled in sour milk was probably regarded as a delicacy, as it is by Arabs. The prohibition is similar to the rule against slaughtering cattle and their young on the same day and the requirement that newborn cattle remain with their mothers at least one week before they are sacrificed, to prevent acts of insensitivity against animals."

Rather then use this verse to promote the discontinuation of cheeseburgers, maybe Christians should rally around this verse and actively promote the discontinuation of mass-processing plants of beef, poultry, pork and fish. Do even a little bit of research on how meat is processed (how the animals are "farmed", slaughtered, and then how the meat is removed from the animals and "prepared") and you will eat alot more veggies. It's not gross because animals are getting killed for our sustenance, it is disgustingly gross because of the blatant disregard for BOTH the animals and the workers in the factories.

Ah...ignorance is bliss...but not for the kids.

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