19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:19-21 (ESV)
Lately I keep thinking I really ought to try blood sausage. Perhaps it is just watching Anthony Bourdain reruns early Saturday morning that has me wanting to expand my gastric horizons. I haven’t seen it on the menu around here. Perhaps if I ever make it to New York I’ll visit one of those fancy places that has it during a Mocking Bird Conference. The thought gets me thinking though about this portion of scripture. I’m not sure any of us worry about this sort of thing too much. Perhaps the bit about sexual immorality is the only one from this list of “minimum” standards we are really concerned about or should be. Idols aren’t even on our radar these days. Though, perhaps they should be. It is not uncommon these days that the food you have eaten in an Indian restaurant has actually been offered to an idol. This is true also of much a person might eat at a Middle Eastern restaurant where at least the meat has been presumably offered to Allah upon sacrifice. But then Paul’s, don’t ask don’t tell sort of policy recommended to the Corinthians tends to be the dominating principle for Christians. This really applied to going to a temple to eat, or if a friend made a point to tell you to whom the meal was offered then to politely decline eating at that particular party. The only “strangled” animals I can think of ever coming across and eating have been fresh shot Chukar, sometimes they don’t die quite on impact and the polite thing to do is ring their necks. Somehow I just don’t think this is what the text is getting at.
The sexual immorality is the only one of the above mentioned things that is dealt with in the Ten Commandments. Well, the eating food offered to Idols, knowingly doing so, could be seen as a violation of the first commandment where we are admonished not to bow before idols. But like I said, this then is handled by Paul more directly in 1 Cor. Most of this was an appeal to the Christians to not cause needless offense to their Jewish brethren. And that whole concept can get rather confusing rather fast. But as a general rule it is a good thing to consider not causing needless offense to anyone in the name of the gospel, and yet still maintaining your Christian freedom. It is doubtful that eating blood pudding at a restaurant in Manhattan is going to cause offense to anyone today.