Allergic to Other People

The church is capable of including any number of subcultural groups within her pale, and can do so without great difficulty. Ham radio operators, rodeo riders, surfers, and rock climbers are all welcome. And what they all do the Saturday before worship does not disrupt the reality of their worship together.

But food subcultures are a different matter. Food scruples are the deathly enemy of church unity. Every pastor is called by the Lord to hate food divisions, and every pastor who does not hate them is an enemy of his own peace. I don’t want church splits, even if they come in a reusable bag.

The central pastoral issue of the New Testament was a dietary one — whether Jews and Gentiles could eat together. And if the apostle Paul fought so long and hard on this one — to keep the body of Christ from being divided this way — when the issue really was created by the laws of the Old Testament, how much more would he be militant about food divisions that resulted from an article that somebody read on the Internet?

I am not talking about genuine allergies. Everybody should know what those are. You serve your guest ground up peanuts in that Thai dish you’ve been wanting to try out, and forty five minutes later he looks like the Michelin tire boy, and the dinner party concludes late that evening in the ER. That’s an allergy, and the apostle would not mind if we accommodated such food restrictions in charity. That is a beautiful opportunity to exercise charity — checking with those you invite about food restrictions.