Why are Christians allowed to eat shellfish but not allowed to have sex before marriage?

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Here’s a wonderful article from Peter Saunders.

The challenge:

An argument frequently advanced by those attempting to defend homosexual practice is that Christians ‘cherry pick’ the commands in the Bible – that is, they chose to emphasise some commands while ignoring others.

The Old Testament may forbid homosexual acts (Leviticus 18:2; 20:13) but it also forbids eating seafood without fins and scales (Leviticus 11:9-12; Deuteronomy 14:9, 10).

So how can Christians then justify upholding laws on sexual morality whilst at the same time ignoring the food laws from the very same books of the Bible? Why may they eat shellfish but not be allowed to have sex outside marriage? Isn’t this inconsistent and hypocritical?

The solution is that God enters into “covenants” with his people, and the terms of those covenants change.

Especially dietary laws:

The answer to this question lies in an understanding of biblical covenants.

A covenant is a binding solemn agreement made between two parties. It generally leaves each with obligations. But it holds only between the parties involved.

There are a number of biblical covenants: Noahic, Abrahamic, Sinaitic (Old), Davidic and New.

Under the Noahic covenant, which God made with all living human beings (Genesis 9:8-17), people were able to eat anything:

‘Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything’ (Genesis 9:3).

But under the Sinaitic (Old) Covenant, which God made with the nation of Israel, people were able to eat certain foods, but not others.

Jesus clearly created a new covenant with his followers, where the dietary laws are lifted:

Jesus said that he had come to fulfil the ‘Law and the Prophets’ (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:44). He would establish this new covenant with new laws, with himself as high priest based on his own sacrificial death on the cross.

This new covenant would completely deal with sin (Hebrews 10:1-18) and protect all those who put their faith in him from God’s wrath and judgement…

[…]‘In the same way, after the supper (Jesus) took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”’ (Luke 22:20). ‘…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ (Hebrews 10:10)

People would come under the protection of this new covenant, not by virtue of belonging to the nation of Israel, but through faith in Christ. In fact the function of the Old Testament Law (Sinaitic covenant) was to point to Christ as its fulfilment.

[…]So what then did Christ say about foods? He pronounced all foods clean for his followers to eat:

‘ “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them?  For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them.  For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:18-23)

Jesus was making that point that under the new covenant God required purity of the heart. Internal thoughts and attitudes were as important as external actions.

Food is OK for Christians, but sexual immorality – which includes premarital sex and adultery – are NOT OK for Christians.

I think sometimes when you are talking to people whose motivation is just to get rid of any objective moral law entirely, they tend to ask questions without really wanting a good answer. This is especially true when it comes to the morality of sex. They ask the question not to get an answer, but to justify getting rid of the moral rules governing sexuality. The answers are there for people who are willing to respect God in their decision-making to find. The answers are not found only by people who have a reason to not want to find them.

In case you’re wondering, I am one of those Christian men who takes chastity seriously. Marriage is about having a close connection with your spouse. Sure, I could break the rules and have a lot of fun now. A lot of Christians have a hard time turning down fun. But when I look at Jesus, I don’t see a man who is pursuing fun and thrills. I see a man who sees a need and then sacrifices his own interests to rescue others from peril.

7 thoughts on “Why are Christians allowed to eat shellfish but not allowed to have sex before marriage?”

  1. After years of hearing that stupid shellfish argument, I just take it as a concession speech on their part. They obviously don’t know or don’t care about what the Bible really says. The worst thing is when “Christians” (i.e., the “Christian” Leftists) use it. Have them read Leviticus 18, noting how it is bookended with the strongest possible admonitions not to be like the Canaanites. Then ask if the other sexual behaviors, such as bestiality, are OK based on their logic (sadly, they may say they are!).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The church loves doing this too, like when cajoling and harassing people to have kids they may well be ill-equipped to properly raise into healthy, well adjusted kids. Many times health issues, hereditary and other limiting issues aren’t readily apparent. But the church will continue to scream “Look at be fruitful and multiply! That’s a command!” Actually it was a blessing and not a command in the original language, and was only given to certain people for certain ends, like the fulfillment of prophecy. It isn’t repeated in the New Testament either.

    So much of what the church offers now are the very things Christ warned about, like creating entire doctrines out of cherry-picked verses while ignoring other opposite passages. Prosperity gospel, anyone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the specific command for us is from Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, but that doesn’t fit with the happy clappy desires of pastors and Christian women who see marriage as fun baby-making instead of an enterprise to produce results for Boss.


  3. I am reading Romans right now so I immediately think they haven’t even slightly read the book of Romans, that talks about leaving behind old desires of the flesh so you can pursue b the things of God.

    Those that make arguments like you listed just want a license to sin, and they ignore that if we are following good and seeking him he is highly forgiving of our sins. But there is a limit because if we aren’t seeking good and turning from sin then we are not really following after God.

    Too many of these people are the fake Christians

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We have the Ten Commandments. No one is certain when they came to be, but God listed them. they certainly predate Moses Law. When Muslims get on me about eating pork, I say but Abraham did, as did the Prophet Mohamed. And Christians are under grace, unmerited favor, not under fire. For this reason, Christ’s grace, Christians have prospered. God’s curses are still in effect, and God never blesses apostates. Who is blessed and who cursed with unrest, shame, poverty, plagues and so on? God’s peace to you.


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