Why Don’t We Eat Humans?

I know that may sound like a no-brainer, but, seriously. . . Why don’t we eat humans?

When I try to imagine eating human flesh, I start to get this gag-reflex-thing going on in my throat—It’s awful.

I remember seeing this movie in the 90s called Alive, which was a story about a South American soccer team whose plane crashed into the Andes mountains in 1972. Well, to survive they ended up eating the flesh of some of their dead soccer mates. I know—sick. But they had to do it to survive.

What does the name Hannibal Lector make you think about? Do you want some fava beans with that?

Anyway. In a recent pod-cast episode of Unbelievable, the host had a Christian apologist and an atheist in the studio to discuss the existence of God. The Christian is a lawyer from Texas, and I think the atheist was an Aussie or a Brit . . . I don’t recall. At one point, the topic of morality came up. Now, I don’t remember exactly what was being said. I just remember the part when the Christian lobbed a grenade-shaped question on the atheist in mid-speech, saying, “So, why don’t we eat humans?”

It stopped the atheist dead in his tracks. It was not a long stop, but it threw him off. “What do you mean, ‘why don’t we eat humans?'” he said. And then he continued, saying we don’t need to because we have pigs and cattle and what not. He said a few other things, but you could tell he was not ready for that one.

The Christian responded and said (paraphrasing), “With all those people who are hungry all over the world, why are they not eating the dead? What a waste of good protein. We donate our organs to science, why not donate our bodies to feed the hungry.”

It was really funny listening to this atheist trying to recover. He just said a few words and tried to brush it under the rug and proceed on with his other arguments.

But, the Christian’s point was in regards to our human dignity. He asked the atheist what makes us more dignified than other creatures, and the atheist said it was our intelligence. I don’t think he had fully recovered from the grenade yet because his knee-jerk response just opened the door to a litany of objections that quickly buried him.

I am sure you can think of a few yourself.

So, this is where I will end with their debate.

The answer, however, still needs more ‘flesh’ on it (pun intended :)).

Where do we get our dignity?

Lets define dignity. One dictionary says, dignity means, “Inherent nobility and worth.”(1) And specifically regarding human dignity, “a being has an innate right to be valued and receive ethical treatment.”(2)

Robert P. Kraynak , in his essay from the Presidents Council on Bioethics, says, “When we speak about ‘human dignity’ or ‘the dignity of man,’ we usually mean the special moral status of human beings in the natural universe as well as the respect due to individual humans because of their essential humanity.”(3)

In looking at the first definition, I have to ask what gives humans this inherent and innate right to such a status? Is it what society says? The government? Or, is it just on an individual basis?

Kraynak’s definition (I don’t mean to imply it is his) tries to mash aspects of two conflicting worldviews together—special moral status and natural universe. Morality cannot be accounted for in a naturalistic worldview (I don’t believe he is meaning naturalistic per se, but this fits the secular mold, which is that of a naturalistic worldview).

But, just read the definition again…. Why should humans get special respect because of their essential humanity? When it comes to a materialist, Darwinian worldview, the concept of innate self-worth or inherent value has no place in such a way of life. It can’t be accounted for. All the atheist can say, though he will try decorate it with big words, “it is because it is,” but that is arbitrary (see my pastor and good friend Stephen Feinstein’s blog post of such a conversation we had with an atheist). There is an elephant in the room that the naturalist doesn’t see.

Getting back to the definitions. What is obvious about these statements is that worth can only be placed on something by another. Regardless of using adjectives such as special, innate, or essential, humans have a value that supersedes any other material object. Furthermore, in understanding how worth and value are placed on something, we can deduce that there is something, rather someone that gives humans this value. Value and worth is something only persons understand and can give. One has to have a personal, relational, cognitive mind to recognize worth and to attribute it to something.

However, if humans give humans value, then humans can take away that value. That is what we are truly left with, if we are merely nothing more than mud and molecules.

And we have seen humans commit plenty of horrific and atrocious acts to other humans, devaluing and demoralizing them, treating them like animals (i.e., human trafficking, slavery, rape, etc.). We say like animals because there is a vast difference between humans and animals, and while there are those who on the surface think otherwise (like naturalists), they don’t truly live their life that way, holding moral convictions that reflect such an ideology.

So why do humans have inherent dignity?

Because God made man in his image after his likeness (Gen. 1:26).

The only way to account for a universal, intrinsic moral worth is because One who is eternally and infinitely moral, The Moral Lawgiver, made mankind to have such a value.

That is why we don’t eat humans.

(And no, its not because we can get the Kuru disease if we do. That is not the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about it).

—Romans 11:36
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1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dignity (accessed, 1/2/2014)
2.http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/human+dignity (accessed, 1/2/2014)
3.https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcbe/reports/human_dignity/chapter4.html (accessed, 1/2/2014).

Should Christians Take Up Arms . . . Even to Stop ISIS?

With the constant bombardment of the horrific actions by the Islamic group ISIS on the media, I know that pacifism and the Christian response to this has become a hot topic of debate. Seeing men, women, and children being tortured and killed strikes the nerve of everyone, and seeing those belonging to the family of God crucified and hung on a cross for display deeply hurts my heart. So, what should our response be? Should Christians join the military or form a militia to put a stop to this situation using lethal means? This recent article speaking of this very thing has made me think about it a little more. So, this is my entry-level response that I am sure those who have thought through this more could pick it a part. But, here I go:

In the past, I generally only experienced this topic with Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are adamantly against any type of military or law enforcement. One situation that I would mention in response is with Jesus and the centurion in Matthew 8. I would say, “if Christ thought this man’s profession as a military officer was sinful, why did he not say something to him at this time?” When he healed others in Scripture, he also would tell them to sin no more. However, of this man, he said he had not seen faith like this anywhere else in Israel (8:10), yet no mention of his vocation as being sinful. So, how can we say that it is sinful to join?

This is somewhat echoed in the words of the Reformer John Calvin:

For if Christian doctrine (to use Augustine’s words) condemned all wars, the soldiers asking counsel concerning salvation should rather have been advised to cast away their weapons and withdraw completely from military service. But they were told: “Strike no man, do no man wrong, be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).[i]

We cannot form a doctrine directly from these situations because these passages in Scripture are not about whether joining the military is permissible for a believer. So then, what are we to think? Well, the reason it is a debate is because there are no explicit texts in the Scriptures either way.

I think the Sermon on the Mount provides probably the clearest evidence against this, particularly Matthew 5:44-45: “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” For many, I presume, this passage seals the debate against any type of role that requires violence in the job description. And, as I see it, the requirement of violence—killing—is the key point of debate. However, there is a difference between murder and killing, and I understand that. But, if one is commanded to kill someone, how do we know that it is truly just killing for the sake of the greater good? The information could be wrong, or it could be just a political move needing to be carried out in order for a particular state or nation to move forward with its own agenda of increasing its control and wealth. So, that is where my conflict ultimately rests.

Now, (and here is me internalizing on this) as I see it from Scripture, as Christians, we are called to be ambassadors of Christ. We are to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). We are called out from the world, set apart as holy and blameless for God. Our mandate is to spread the message of salvation, Christ and him crucified, to every tribe, tongue, and nation in accordance with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). Though the Lord is the one who raises up kings and rulers, establishing a governing authority designed to keep order and peace, a Christian should not willingly join in the sections of a governing office that require him to murder anyone. One might say that we are defending our country from tyranny and terrorism. There is evil all around the world, for the Devil is the prince of it, and though God permits evil, he also governs it through the established governments of the world, not Christian governments.

Martin Luther refers to the right hand and the left hand of God: one governs the out workings of the earthly kingdom through appointed governing authorities and the other governs his children of the spiritual kingdom, which he uses to call the other lost sheep through the proclamation of the gospel. Peter tells us that we are, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). And to willingly murder someone as a Christian, whether it is sanctioned by the government or not, is to commit an action that belongs in the darkness of which he was called out from.

I know that many have very strong feelings for and against this. I think this is also a matter of sinning against the conscience and personal conviction. So, we must be discerning in these matters and trust in the Holy Spirit for his guidance in this. I have to ask myself, what level of murder is acceptable to commit as a Christian? Well, none, obviously. I know that we have brothers and sisters in the military and I would never assume they joined believing that what they were going to engage in, if being called to fight on the battlefield, would be classified as murder. One point that was recently mentioned by a Christian brother of mine, which I never really thought about, was the possibility of going to war and killing another brother or sister in Christ, who joined the ranks of the opposing country. That’s heavy….

But back to the question. At what point does it go from defense of life to pursuing to take life because of possible, future evil actions? Where is the point of no return: Front-line troops defending the line, pilots dropping bombs on countries where civilians are killed as well, Navy seals teams taking out terrorist threats, CIA operative who does hits on command…?? What level is ok? I am sure we can all justify one way or the other.

One thing is for sure, I hold the men of uniform up with the highest respect for their service, and I am grateful for the men and women that have given their lives for this country. They have helped restrain the evil of the world. I am sure that sounds very hypocritical of me. And I struggle with thinking that myself. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing videos of a soldier getting off an airplane after being on a tour in the Middle East and seeing his loved ones running to him in tears. And when I hear or see an officer was killed in action, it chokes me up more than most other tragedies. But, as Christians, the Scriptures tell us that our fight is not against flesh and blood (Galatians 6:12).

Paul’s instructions in Galatians 6:11-20 are universal for all of us.

Christ could have crushed the Jews and Romans easily. Did he not say he could appeal to his Father, and he would send twelve legions of angels (Matthew 26:53)? However, he instead chose to be crushed for the sins of his enemies and bring glory to his Father as we are to as Christians in this world.

As it pertains to ISIS, I have to lean on what I see in the Scriptures. I know that the only way to change their hearts is through the grace of God brought by the sword of the Spirit. Only the gospel can change the evil natures of ISIS. I of course would defend my home if ISIS members came to attack my family, but to join an outfit with the purpose of killing them, I just don’t see that the Scriptures permit that. But shouldn’t I help my neighbor? Well, who is my neighbor? ISIS is; the people they are killing and pillaging from are too. We help both. How is that to be done? What does that look like? That is something I would to need consider more.

This is my view, and though I know I have not covered all points exhaustively for or against it nor could I, for I don’t presume to know all of them, this is where I feel the most comfortable on this. The Lord commands me to love my enemy and preach the gospel to him, not kill him. I know I will never have to face the Lord with the blood of someone who I chose to kill instead of sharing the gospel with.

I encourage anyone to share their points and correct me where I am lacking and shed light to aspects I have not considered. God bless

Romans 11:36

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1.John Calvin, Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. II (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1960), 1500.