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Oct
2

The Origin of Our Convictions: 3. Conviction

And Elohim said, “See, I have given you every plant that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed, to you it is for food.  “And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to every creeping creature on the earth, in which there is a living being, every green plant is for food.” And it came to be so. And Elohim saw all that He had made, and see, it was very good. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the sixth day.

Sometimes knowledge hangs on the fringes of my understanding, holding on for dear life, patiently waiting to be grasp hold of,  put to good use. It often lingers in the back of my mind hiding behind the doubts and questions of whether my thoughts could be right or scripturally sound. At times it peeks out as if to remind me of its presence, urging me to excavate the nuggets and polish them into wisdom. And once wisdom if gifted, it is time to put it to daily practice.

After many years of seemingly random conversations that called my beliefs into question, in 2015 Yahweh convicted me to adhere to the dietary instructions in Leviticus 11.  Shortly after, my son moved back home and I found myself in a convergence of circumstances: my son had developed a dairy allergy and I needed to avoid dairy products due to my arthritis and since we were avoiding pork products such as gelatin, I attempted to find new replacements for ingredients in old recipes. This led me on a search that landed me in the world of vegans and some amazingly beautiful and simple recipes and substitutions previously unknown to me.

I really loved cheese though. And coffee without cream just did not seem anyway to live. Without warning, I found myself in a second set of converging circumstances. The arthritis grew worse and the pain became unbearable. By late January, simple things such as buying groceries alone was not an option anymore. I felt as if I had aged to 108. Between the erosion of the bone in my hips and back and the inflammation, the pain kept me awake most nights. By April, I was using crutches to move around the house and could no longer navigate the stairs in our cabin. I prayed for answers and healing.

I am a documentary junkie. I love them. I will watch most anything.  I also love to cook and there were several food documentaries on Netflix. So every night, I laid on the heating pad and we watched documentaries. First they were on health and I could not get enough of them. All the new information was exciting to me and I began to make connections between why Yahweh forbade the eating of certain foods and our health; aside from the spiritual, there was a practical application that made perfect and complete sense to the whys I had been asking Him. And between me and you, there were a whole heaping lot of them. Within the documentaries was also a consistent claim made that eating a whole foods plant based diet could reverse and even cure some diseases. I thought it all too good to be true, but what did I really have to lose at this point? If I gave up meat and diary for a few weeks and my condition did not improve, what was the worst that could happen other than I would have eaten more vegetables and fruits than normal. So I gave up all animal products in my diet with the exception of honey.

After a week, the crutches were put away. After two, my energy levels increased. After three, the pain reduced significantly and I went grocery shopping. All. By. Myself. I was able to navigate the stairs in our cabin and I was cooking and doing chores. I could actually bend over to grab the clothes from the dryer.  My life was regaining normalcy.

But the fourth week? I was craving a burger. And here, a third set of circumstances converged that I was wholly unprepared for. It was in the afternoon. My mouth is watering just thinking about a grilled burger with lots of cheddar cheese and all the fixings. Determined to not break my commitment to myself and my healthy new lifestyle, I went hunting a plant based recipe that would hopefully satisfy me. I do not remember the exact combination of words I googled, but one link led to a recipe video on Youtube. And over on the right, queued up and ready to go, were all the videos I did not want to spend my day watching. One in particular caught my eye. It was by a vegan explaining why she was vegan. I cannot explain what made me click over from the video I was watching. I admit I was mildly curious why someone would make that choice. I knew why I was making mine; I was having a health crisis. But I watched because once I begin digging into a topic, excavation of other truths often emerge that demand my attention and analyzation.

And as I watched, the wrestling began.

But did not Yahweh Himself give us the authority to eat animals? What did Adam and Eve eat? Weren’t there always carnivorous animals? Weren’t there instances in Scripture of people eating animals, eating cheese? Is there not even a Torah commandment concerning taking eggs from underneath a mother bird?

3 hours later and 5 videos more and I landed upon a documentary. And to be honest, I was not sure it was something I wanted to watch.  I mean, how far did I want to take this? Did I even want to be a vegan? Did it even align with my faith and my beliefs or was this really some new age radical idea? When Randy came home, I begged him to watch it with me. He said absolutely no way was he watching a documentary about animal slaughter. So I lay in the bed all night and I thought about the things I had seen. Was there something here I should consider or should I just let it all go? It was one of those moments of shifting opinions that seemed a radical departure from what I had always believed. Radical departures require prayerful deliberation and requisitions for wisdom.

The next day, I worked up the courage to watch, not one, but two documentaries.

It was the most heartbreaking, gut wrenching thing I have ever seen. The cruelty and abuse to Yahweh’s created was astounding. I could not fathom the reasoning behind the actions. Some may be extreme cases, but after much researching most of the information was what would be considered normal processing in the meat and dairy industry. I know we were given dominion over the earth, but what has been done was not what was intended.

There are many Christians and even those in the Hebrew Roots movement who will say that not eating meat represents someone who is weak in their faith. They would point me to Romans 14 and begin taking verses out of context. They might even say it is an unbiblical, worldly fad for people who care more about animals than they do about children. And just as with any particular held belief, there will be people who are extreme and live on the fringe of that belief.

But I knew my next steps: it first required an understanding of exactly what veganism constituted; then to discern whether it actually aligned with Yahweh’s word. Is it in line with His character? Is it a proper stance to take as a disciple of Yeshua?

I believe it is.

Psalm 145:9 states:

Yahweh is good to all and His mercy is over all that He has made.

Yeshua says to go and learn what it means that He requires mercy and not sacrifice. And when I began to study what this really meant at its core, it all comes back to loving Yahweh and loving each other.

Living a vegan lifestyle is about more than not eating animals. The whole of it concerns exploitation of humans and animals: it condemns slave and child labor, animal testing, inhumane practices in the slaughtering of animals and the raising of animals for that purpose. Are there things some vegans believe that I disagree with? Yes. Most have a stance on abortion that I wholeheartedly disagree with and I struggle with their pro-choice argument. But over all, the concept aligns with what I believe Yahweh would consider being merciful and just and living compassionately and lovingly unto all He has made.

And is that not the way we should all strive to live in lovingkindness towards one another?

I believe it is. After all, it was His intention in the beginning. Not just for Adam and Eve, but also for the animals.   

And Elohim said, “See, I have given you every plant that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed, to you it is for food.  “And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to every creeping creature on the earth, in which there is a living being, every green plant is for food.” And it came to be so. And Elohim saw all that He had made, and see, it was very good. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the sixth day.

Not just good. But very good. When the ground came forth and the waters were gathered, when the ground was given the ability to bring forth vegetation, when everything was given the ability to function, it was good. But on the sixth day, when He created man and placed him in the garden it was very good because now all creation was functioning with the original intention for which it had been created.

Why should I desire to live any other way? I have yet to find a reason why I ought to and because I desire to follow Yeshua’s command to “Love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”, I believe one of the many and best ways to do this is to go back to the original intention Yahweh had for all of His created – to eat plants and not each other.

The righteous one is aware of the soul of his animal, and the evil withhold their compassions. ~ Proverbs 12:10

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