The vastness of the ocean contains a plethora of resources that can be harvested and utilized by humans. It is inhabited by a wide variety of animals, both large and small, which provide a critical source of food. Minerals and other natural resources are also found in the sea. We have still explored so little of the ocean, so all we can do is speculate about what more might be hidden beneath the waves. When God created everything in the universe, including water, He was amazed by what He saw and felt very pleased with it (Genesis 1:31). With that in mind, to what extent are we permitted to partake in the treasures that the sea has to offer? Are we allowed to eat seafood?
All creatures that God has declared clean should not be considered unclean in our eyes (Acts 10:9-15). Everything that God created is good, and nothing should be refused if it is received with thanksgiving. The word and prayer had already sanctified it (1 Timothy 4:3-5).
In the Old Testament, it is written that all living things in the water that do not have either fins or scales, regardless of whether they are swarming organisms or other types of marine life, should be considered unclean. It is therefore forbidden to consume the meat of living marine creatures with no fins and scales, and its carcass must also be regarded as unclean because these things are considered to be unclean (Leviticus 11:10-12; Deuteronomy 14:10).
However, the New Testament holds a different view. What a person puts in their mouth does not defile them; rather, what comes out of their mouths is the source of their impurity (Matthew 15:11). Gleaning from this, food itself is not the factor that pollutes our bodies. Therefore, it is permissible for a Christian to consume anything, so long as he does so with thanksgiving. This is a necessary requirement. Because it was sanctified in the first place, via the power of God’s word and prayer, it should not be rejected as unfit for consumption (1 Timothy 4:3-5).
The fact that Christians shouldn’t look down on others who are different from them in terms of their food limitations is something that should also be considered. It is never appropriate for us to pass judgment on others with ideas contrary to ours. If God has already accepted a person’s decision to abstain from eating particular foods, then we have no right to pass judgment on people who make that choice (Romans 14:3).
Simply changing the kinds of food that we put into our bodies will never be enough to earn God’s approval. We do not suffer negative consequences as a result of eating, nor do we suffer any negative consequences as a result of not eating (1 Corinthians 8:8). Even Jesus said that man would not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). What is valuable, however, is not the food itself; rather, it is the fact that in our daily walk as Christians, we try to be more Christlike every day. What is more important is that we are never defined solely by the food that we eat.
What seafood is unclean in the Bible?
It is nearly always up to the discretion of the person to decide whether something is clean or unclean. That person’s preferences are almost always the most important factor. As Christians, one of the most crucial questions we need to ask ourselves is whether or not something is in line with the Bible. This would include the decisions we make regarding the food we consume. The Bible prohibits eating certain types of seafood because they are deemed unclean. Are people who practice Christianity allowed to eat the same foods as everyone else?
In the Old Testament, all creatures that lack fins and scales are to be regarded as unclean (Leviticus 11:10). However in Acts 10:15, we are told not to regard the animals that God made clean to be impure. All creatures, including seafood are then considered to be clean.
Gleaning from the Scripture in the Old Testament, it is therefore not permissible to eat shellfish of any kind, including shrimp, prawns, lobster, scallops, mussels, oysters, squid, octopus, crabs, and other varieties. Since crustaceans, mollusks, and mollusk shellfish likewise do not have scales, they are all considered unclean.
However, in the New Testament, as Christians, we are free to follow whatever personal convictions we have when it comes to the consumption of seafood. After being persuaded in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must then be convinced that there is nothing in and of itself that is unclean. That said, if one person considers something to be dirty, then that object is considered unclean for all people who share that viewpoint (Romans 14:14).
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