Doesn't the Bible specifically state that it is ok to kill animals for food?

Yes, it does. In particular, Leviticus of the Old Testament gives very specific rules for how animals are to be slaughtered and which animals can be eaten. Leviticus is also the section of the Old Testament which specifically states that slavery is permitted, and which gives very specific rules for how slaves are to be treated. During the movement to abolish human slavery, many abolitionists were accused of going against the will of God, due to the fact that slavery is specifically condoned by the Bible.

Nevertheless, the movement to abolish human slavery included many Bible believing Christians, as does the modern animal rights movement. People who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible are often troubled by these types of passages in the Old and New Testaments. The following is one possible explanation which some of them can offer.

A society can absorb only a limited amount of change at one time. It could be argued that God knew that if he commanded humans to abolish slavery and abolish the practice of killing animals for food, then this would simply be too great a shock for society to accept all at once, and most people would just end up ignoring the commandments altogether. Therefore, by giving specific rules for how slaves are to be treated, and for how animals are to be slaughtered, it could be argued that God made these practices considerably less barbaric than they would have been otherwise - although his real intention was for people to one day eventually realize that the message of compassion should be applied to all beings, including slaves and animals.


Follow up questions:

In the Bible, did the word “slave” just mean a servant who is set free after seven years?

What about the passage where God tells Peter to “Kill and eat”?

If God did not want us to eat meat, then why did he place animals on the Earth?

Don't only human beings have a soul?

Doesn't the Bible give humans dominion over the animals?


Back to the title page

Back to the list of the most commonly asked questions