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As animals can be treated badly, should Christians only eat free range meat?
Thank you for your question about the eating of meat.
The Bible does talk a lot about the way animals should be treated and what foods God's people should or shouldn't eat. Mankind has had a special relationship over the animal world since Adam's first job was to name the animals as recorded in Genesis:
Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field (Genesis 2:19-20)
This implies that we are to care for and appreciate God's creation. Sadly not all people do this and some animals are abused and mistreated. This is because many people do not follow God's teachings.
The Bible however does not give direct guidelines of how animals that are eaten should be kept or killed. It does not say that we should only eat 'free range' meat as this is a new cultural idea. Therefore I cannot comment either way that it is right or wrong to eat certain types of meat.
In the New Testament we see this teaching following a dream of Peter:
Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, 'What God has made clean, do not call common' (Acts 11:6-9)
This shows that it is okay to eat all types of meat. It does not however record how these animals were to be killed.
There is another passage to consider:
Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgement on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:20-23)
This is referring to people who did not want to eat meat sacrificed to idols, however the principles continue to help us today as it is a conscience issue. If one person does not want to eat meat then that is okay. If you do not want to eat anything but free range meat then that is fine, but it is not something that you can impose on other people. In all, it will require wisdom from God, that he may guide you in making this decision of conscience.
In summary, the bible talks about humans looking after the whole world, including the animal kingdom. However, the bible does not talk about how we are to look after or kill animals. The matter of eating meat and of eating free range food is a conscience issue that requires personal prayer and reflection.
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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