I think I would rather starve than eat rat meat. I’ve had many run-ins with rats. They are nasty filthy creatures. The closest I have come to eating a true rat is when I once ate gibnut in Belize. And that was only because my buddy didn’t tell me what we were eating.
Gibnut of Belize
But I’m not talking about gibnut here, I’m talking about the common everyday rat, the rats that used to eat up my chicken feed when we kept chickens in Eureka, California and then crawl into our attic to die after eating the poison I set out for them and decay until I removed them; the hundreds of rats that used to scamper along the street gutters at night when I lived in Hat Yai, Thailand and the rats that used to sneak into my house when I lived in Hua Hin, Thailand. Those rats are an abomination to me.
While reviewing the eating of pork and shellfish in Leviticus 11, I read that God states that “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you,” I took notice, because I eat both pork and shellfish, i.e. that which comes from the sea and hath not fins nor scales.” Most Christians, myself included, tend to shy away from these Old Testament passages, thinking that they are after all….well, Old Testament. No longer. I realized that ignoring the Old Testament may be done at my peril.
Here is the entire relevant passage of Leviticus 11:
“And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you. These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.” (Leviticus 11:7-12)
Regarding pork, Greg Ciola points out,
Pigs are scavengers. They are notorious for eating anything, including their own waste and garbage. A pig will eat sick and infected animals, including its own piglets that die from disease. Pigs also have one the quickest, yet poorest digestive systems of any animal. On average a pig can completely digest its food in four hours. Since it processes everything so fast, many times the toxins aren’t removed and they are stored in the pig’s fat. Many pigs are traumatized physically before being slaughtered. Under these conditions, which are generally the case in large factory operations, pigs will release toxins and hormones into their muscles that affect the quality of their meat.
and as for shellfish,
Now let’s examine why you should avoid shellfish. Shellfish consists of lobster, shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, scallops, and mussels. All shellfish can be a serious health risk. Like pigs, they are scavengers that live at the bottom of the ocean and eat the waste of other animals and the pollutants that man dumps into the ocean. Although only 0.1 % of all shellfish consumed is eaten raw, that tiny percentage is responsible for a large proportion of reported food-caused illnesses. Poisoning from shellfish can come from bacterial or viral contamination. Generally adequate cooking eliminates this danger, but is it worth the risks in the long run. Poisoning can also arise from heat-stable toxins derived from the food that the shellfish have been eating. Shellfish are notorious for being high in mercury, heavy metals, and industrial contaminants in the environment because they’re bottom feeders that eat the ocean’s waste.
God, like most things that He commands, such as, “Just balances, just weights…… shall you have,” [Leviticus 19:36] does so for our benefit, and not because He is a ogre wanting to deprive us of pleasure. There is a reason, a good reason, for everything He commands. And although He may not explain the reason, we can rest assured that He has, at all times, our best interests in mind.
Just like eating rat is an abomination to me, eating pork and shellfish, like wise, should be an abomination. Unlike the Israelites 3500 years ago, we now have scientific and nutritional reasons to back up the admonition to consider both pork and shellfish as abominable.