This probably will be the only time I address this but time will tell eh? The question is whether eating a paleo lifestyle is compatible with the Christian. You'd be surprised the questions I have been asked and comments I have gotten. I even had someone tell me that using the word paleo "denies the existence of the Creator". Oh yes I was told I was denying the existence of the creator publicly by using it. Today I had an online friend ask me some good-hearted curious questions that I thought I would answer here. And because I'm about to get all heavy and type a super long post I will post this to cheer me up. I have no idea if Kirk Cameron is paleo or not and couldn't seem to find info online about whether he is, but I literally laughed out loud when I found this during my search of Christian paleo clip art. It doesn't offend me instead it cracks me up something fierce so hopefully it doesn't offend you. Now onto more serious pastures.....
Bread is not "Wrong"
First, I want to be clear that I believe wholeheartedly that believing that the current state of our bodies warrants choices to not eat certain foods that were in the Bible does not call those foods "unclean". It does not say they are bad, or go against God's Word. It does not take a spiritual stance that they should be forbidden. It is not a spiritual doctrine to cut these foods for better health.
1 Timothy 1-4 1But
the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from
the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of
demons,2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
People don't go around saying that they are going to eat 10 bags of Cheetos a day because they are thankful for them. If I were starving and the only thing I had to eat was Cheetos, by all means, I would eat that bag with thankfulness. Fortunately I am not currently in a place in my life where I would starve without Cheetos. For my best health in the midst of the Lord providing the means for me to eat a nutrient-rich diet, I don't choose to eat them. Or grains. Or legumes. Or most dairy and right now in fact no dairy. Believing they are not optimal choices for great health does not go against God's Word.
1 Corinthians 23
"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up."
So while all things are lawful, they are not all beneficial. That is where I am in my relationship with food. Not all things are beneficial. God's Word is clear that many things are allowed that may not always be best.
Food is only a tool to stay healthy to be able to do God's work here on earth. Being a good steward means doing the best with that body and keep it functioning the best that it can. That is my goal with my exercise, and it is my goal with my food choices. Optimal Health. We often forget that paleo is just as much about what it IS than what it IS NOT. My research has led me to place where I focus on not eating inflammatory foods, and eating only nutrient dense foods. Keep that in mind as I go on.
So why is saying that eating grains, legumes, and modern dairy okay in light of God's Word... and why would I chose as a Christian to not eat things spoken of clearly in the Bible? A few things that I have confronted as I prayed about my health, my eating, and it's relationship to God's Word:
Living in a Sinful World
Adam and Eve were created to live in eternity with God in the garden. But through their sin, all of creation was cursed. Romans 8:22 "For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now." Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as through one man sin entered
the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men,
because all sinned.
All of creation was now under the curse. Death was brought to the world. Death came to Adam and Eve as well. But they lived close to 1000 years! Since sin came into the world, life expectancy has steadily dropped, dropping off quickly after the flood.
As we grow farther from the original sin our bodies have been degrading. From a near perfect genetic material in the beginning the current state of genetic degradation we have now with our genes, we have seen a slow and steady onset of disease of everything from cancer to allergies. The wages of sin is death and simply living in a world cursed by sin
we have seen a steady onset of death through disease and poor health. Sinful behavior from gluttony laziness also affects the way our bodies work. Changes in diet such as growing up eating a more processed high carbohydrate diets affect our body's ability to process higher carbohydrate loads. Poor prenatal nutrition greatly affects our children's gene expression, leaving them with damaged genes to pass onto their children. Our cultural norms have eroded the concept of moderation to the point that we have damaged our bodies. And in the end, we just live in a world corrupted by sin, our bodies are not excluded. We are reaping what was sown in the state of our bodies. I do not think I can expect to live the same life as someone who lived in a very different life than my own.
The lives of those in Biblical times do not mimic my own. The lives and times of those in Bible times are different than mine. Their struggles with sin are no different, but the way they lived, they way they ate, the health of their bodies, the gut health, their muscle mass, their mobility, everything is very different than mine. God's Word does not contradict history but nor does it ignore it. To
refuse to acknowledge that the peoples of Bible times lived in a very
specific time and that their lives in regards to food and exercise are
different than ours is looking at things through rose colored glasses.
Peoples of the Bible lived lives that look nothing like my own. To walk everywhere, doing manual labor to be able to even just cook, well we can be sure that I do not live that way. I do not raise all my own food, nor work endless hours harvesting food. I do not walk 20 miles to get to town, let alone 100. I do not carry large heavy vessels of water. Muscles on women? Oh yeah in Biblical times there were alright! Their activity level alone is enough to spur me to question whether my food choices should perfectly mimic theirs.
Being raised from birth eating nothing but wild caught fish, all free range animals, fermented foods, no exposure to chemicals,
life-long constant exercise and sunshine, all these things affect the state of the bodies of
those in Biblical times. To compare the health of our bodies now is
almost impossible. Although I can't say I wish I hadn't been raised to eat that way!
There is the obvious discussion about the increasing lack of quality of our food that is going on really everywhere from the late night news to discussions after church. Nutrients in our soil is degrading. Our meats are not free-ranged. Hybridization of grains over time has left us with grains that look nothing like their original forefathers. Pasteurization instead of fermentation leaves us with foods that irritate our stomachs instead of heal them. Highly processed flours. Higher processed sugars lol. Chemicals sprayed on our foods and added to our foods. The list is endless. Even those trying to eat their very best in a modern society don't even begin to rival the quality of food of Bible times.
There is no way this doesn't have an affect on our bodies. We can't put our heads in the sand and pretend that these things don't affect our bodies. I personally have chosen to take a path that questions whether some modern foods are ideal for my body in its current state.
I often hear things like "well what about bread? Jesus called himself the Bread of Life". References to "breaking bread", "bread of life", are not commandments. They are a set of terminology that references history, can be figurative, as well as be literal. I don't see the notion of "breaking bread" as commanding me to break bread but to spend time around the table in fellowship. The Lord's reference to himself as the bread of life was an amazing illustration. Does it mean we are commanded to eat bread? Not in my opinion anyways.
Communion? This one is up for individual interpretation. I don't personally have a problem with eating a bite of bread for communion. I chose to honor the experience of communion over my food choices. But there are also those that through much prayer have decided not to in the paleo world. I admit I would feel much better if it were long-soaked ancient grain bread with live fermented wine instead of a pressed cheap wafer with grape juice, and if they had gluten-free bread I'd eat as well.
People seem to have no problems with the idea of someone being allergic to wheat, legumes, etc. but seem to have an issue with those who believe that not eating them is best for their optimal health. If one has celiac disease that makes them instantly sick when they eat gluten, there seems to be little to no argument amongst Christians that it is totally okay for them say that eating gluten is bad for them. Nowhere do I see negativity amongst Christians over someone with celiac. But the rest of us that choose to align ourselves with the paleo community's science as well as personal experience about the inflammatory nature of grains, legumes, etc. we are met with an onslaught of questions about how we as Christians can support calling something like wheat that God calls good, something not ideal for optimal health in the modern body.
The Word Paleo
In the end I will say this. Paleo is not a verb for me. Paleo is not "eating the way a caveman eats". It is a now recognizable label for my choice to eat non-inflammatory nutrient-dense food. If it were called "pre-ag" for pre-modern-agricultural, Christians wouldn't have much of an issue with it. So when I see you next, ask me how my "pre-ag" diet is going. Or anti-inflammatory diet? Maybe you should ask how my "antinflam" diet is going. Eh pre-ag is cooler. But no one would know what you were talking about until you said "paleo". So paleo it is.
This blog is going to try and answer the million questions I get about how I manage to afford eating paleo with six kids and "What do you EAT?!" and the even more asked question of "What do your kids eat?!", throw in an occasional "How do you have time to cook three meals a day?" We live a normal and crazy life with a house full of crazy kids, endless laundry, weeds in the garden, and a growing desire to not be satisfied with poor health. I homeschool, garden, Crossfit, eat paleo, have SIX kids, three dogs, lots of chickens, love the Lord, and am trying to honor Him through finding true health both physical and spiritual.