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Does the Bible Say Not to Eat a Rare Steak?

“It is impossible to remove all blood from your food. Microscopic traces will remain. Unless you eat your steaks well done, to remove all the blood… Sorry, still some left in there.” -Anti-Torah Guy

Anti-Torah Guy is right that it is impossible to remove all of the blood from an animal. I don’t care how thorough your butcher is or how many times you soak, salt, and wash that steak, there will still be trace amounts of blood.

On the other hand, he’s wrong about cooking it well done. Unless you’re prepared to incinerate it, no amount of cooking will remove all the blood. It will just be cooked blood.

So, what do we do with commands like this one?

For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.
Leviticus 17:14

In addition to all of these: Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 3:17, 7:26, 19:26, Deuteronomy 12:16, 12:23, 15:23. Not to mention Acts 15:20 and 21:25.

God really, really does not like his people eating blood, and no matter what Anti-Torah Guy and his compatriots might say, the Apostles clearly reiterated that commandment for all believers in Yeshua, Jew and Gentile. They considered abstaining from blood to be the absolute bottom rung of acceptable behavior for gentile converts, right beside idolatry and sexual immorality.

For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
Acts 15:28-29

[Read more on this passage in Acts 15 here.]

If it’s impossible to remove every drop of blood from meat and God hates it when people eat blood, does that mean it’s impossible to obey God in this matter? Definitely not! God wouldn’t command us to do something that we were completely unable to do. He told Israel that obedience was not too hard for them (Deuteronomy 30:11), so unless God was lying to them, it is not impossible to obey the command not to eat blood. All you have to do is ask him how.

Ta-da! Asked and answered.

Leviticus 17:13 “Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.”

Well….that’s just another iteration of the command not to eat blood. How does that tell us how to keep the commandment?

Draining the blood from an animal that was shot with an arrow or pierced with a spear–the primary ways that animals were hunted at the time Leviticus was written–will never remove every drop of blood from the tissue. A butcher will cut the animal’s throat and let the still-beating heart pump the blood out, but you can’t do that with an animal that has been hunted. Of course, it will still lose a significant amount of blood–must hunted animals die from blood-loss, after all–but the process will never be as thorough.

In both cases–the butcher and the hunter–draining the blood from the animal will only remove blood from arteries and veins, mostly the former. Draining the blood will never remove blood from capillaries and other tissues.

Yet, God still said we may eat an animal that was hunted as long as it is drained before the blood has a chance to coagulate.

The only possible conclusion is that God never expected anyone to get every drop of blood out of an animal’s tissues. He only expects us to remove the blood that can be drained by opening the major blood vessels!

As long as the animal was bled properly, most of the red fluid that oozes from a fresh cut of meat is myoglobin, not hemoglobin, which is what gives blood its red color. They are chemically similar, hence the similar color. A rare, bloody steak isn’t actually so bloody at all.

Bleeding the animal either at the time of death or immediately after is sufficient to remove the blood for the purposes of the commandment, and almost all animals butchered commercially in the United States meet that requirement. If there is still some blood in the animal after bleeding it–as there always will be–and other fluids that resemble blood, then that is God’s problem to deal with. Your job is to obey his instructions. It’s his job to deal with the consequences of that obedience. Anything more than that is a tradition of man, not a commandment of God, so don’t be afraid to take your steak off the grill before it’s shoe leather, because that’s another kind of sin in itself.

(The production of a healthy product fit for human consumption and the humane treatment of animals are important issues too, but beyond the scope of this article.)

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5 Replies to “Does the Bible Say Not to Eat a Rare Steak?”

  1. Regarding the location of my email address–quote: “You must have an email address in the USA or in Texas…” Excuse me, but does that mean Texas is not considered part of the USA? Sorry!! I couldn’t resist. lol

  2. I don’t always read your emails immediately but as soon as I find a few minutes I’ll read them. They are always so educational and delightful to read as well. This one about the blood was certainly no exception.

  3. Just to be on the safe side, why eat meat at all? A lot of diseases are caused by eating meat. We can get plenty of protein from veggies, ask any rhino, giraffe, elephant or cow passing by!

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