There is perhaps no more controversial topic within Christianity than that of food. They debated it in the early Church, and we continue to debate it now. Whether the topic is: “Should Christians should drink wine or beer”, or: “What defines gluttony?”, Christians love to debate the theology of food.
Recently a lot of Christians have been debating whether or not Christians should eat Genetically Modified Organisms. Or GMOs. I’ve been part of those discussions. Those debates get almost as nasty as the thought of eating cloned meat. I assume this post will get just as negative a reaction from the same crowds. No worries, the Gospel Spam ComBox is always open, especially for food fights.
I want to be radical for a moment and propose something truly crazy: that is; perhaps, GMOs are a blessing from God. So feel free to clean up your keyboard from spitting out that organic tea and hear me out.
I’m not ignorant to the idea that GMO’s may be bad for you. They might cause cancer. They might make people unhealthy. These are valid concerns.
But then again, these could all be ridiculous conspiracy theories from some hipster organic Illuminati farmers living on a farm compound somewhere deep within urban Portland.
But for the record, I have no problem accepting the position that GMO’s, and more importantly, industrialized farming-both in their current state-are probably somewhat bad for you.
But industrialized farming is a relatively new thing in the history of the world. So are GMOs. Technology always has kinks and quirks in its early stages. No technology is perfect from the start…not even Apple products.
We live in a country that is truly blessed. The reason I know that is because we are having a discussion on the very subject of whether or not we are producing too much food, and if the food we are making should be made at all. The issue as to whether or not we should be eating GMOs is a first world problem- a problem only us fortunate first worlders have. It’s a problem that we should be thankful to God for-if it is a problem.
There are many things to consider here. The first is theological. A lot of people argue that the way the food is made now is not the food we were intended to eat in the Garden of Eden. I would agree to some extent. I would also add that thorns and weeds, and back-breaking sweat required to grow vegetables wasn’t the way we were intended to grow them, either. But you know…sin happens.
But actually, knowing the providence of God, and his original intention for the Gospel to go forth throughout all the world, that overcoming sin, disease and death, and eliminating hunger is actually part of God’s original intention. Technology is used by God to advance the temporal benefits of the Gospel. I believe as the Gospel goes forth, so will science and technology. Eventually men will turn their weapons into plow shares as the spread of the Gospel ushers in Christ’s final consummated Kingdom.
But whether we are talking about before the fall, after the fall, post Great Commission, or even post consummated Kingdom, our responsibilities remain the same: work the earth, grow food, and take care of our families.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. – Genesis 1:28-31 ESV
So here we see that God gave man every plant to eat, with the sort of assumption that there would be no animal death. Not only are we given every plant to eat, we are given the authority and responsibility to grow it and take care of it.
This is where the question comes in.
Can we modify the seeds? Can we make them grow better, and more reliably?
Are we allowed to make them more “thorn” resistant?
I would argue of course we can and that it is part of the mandate. Although we do still experience many of the curses of the fall, some of them are being wiped away slowly and surely by the advancement of the Gospel, and eventually all of them will be gone.
As a side note, for anyone who doubts my postmillenial convictions on how the Gospel advances technology: Let’s recall The Tower of Babel, these guys were using technology to build a skyscraper to the heavens. God stopped it.
“Now the whole earth had one language and the same words…Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11:1, 6-7
But then we have these moments in the New Testament, where Jesus repeatedly tells his followers that “Nothing is impossible with God,” until eventually the curse of Babel is restored at Pentecost. Now we have a space station above the earth-literally in the heavens-built by at least three separate nations, in which the internationals all work together. That could not have happened prior to the ascension of Christ.
But I am getting carried away here. Let’s talk about the commercialization of food.
Recently the McDonalds Cheeseburger won the title of the “cheapest and most nutritious food in human history.” Nowhere in the world can you get more calories, cheaper than a McDonalds Cheeseburger. The obvious response to that is repulsion. How on earth could that be a good thing? Well I would like to argue that it is a good thing. In fact it is not only a good thing, it is a blessing.
From the article:
Kyle Smith, a New York Post columnist, threw his support behind the McDouble’s nutritional value for money.
“For the average poor person, it isn’t a great option to take a trip to the Farmer’s Market to puzzle over esoteric lefty-foodie codes” (Source)
I believe it was Douglas Wilson who said something along the lines of this: Imagine for a moment that a man washed up on a desert island. There was nothing to eat, but every day Oreos washed up on shore in a box. This happened every day for three years until the man was finally rescued. When he was finally hauled unto the rescue ship the Captain and crew were shocked that the man was overweight. How is that possible? The answer: Oreos.
The response in that situation would not be “What a disaster, this man had nothing to eat but trans-fatty Oreos to eat and is now overweight. Woe to this real life Hurley!” That would be ridiculous. The actual response would be praise to God for the Oreos. It would be seen as a miracle. “Oreos from Heaven!”
When someone is in a situation that they have no way of paying for high-priced organic foods, and all they can afford is 2000 McDonald’s calories and processed GMO foods our response shouldn’t be repulsion towards that company. Instead, like the starving man on the Island we should thank God. They can eat within their means and not starve.
I know it sounds crazy, especially to those who grew up on farms, or those who farm, or people who always had fresh home-cooked meals available to them. But this is not the case for everyone and we shouldn’t let angry farmers who have failed at capitalism create unBiblical laws as a means to pay for their family farm.
Is McDonald’s the best option for feeding the poor? Not by a long shot. But McDonalds is indeed feeding the poor and that is something we should be thankful for…even if it’s not a perfect, well-balanced meal.
But let’s put Michelle Obama’s School Health Food program into the equation.
Recently, several school districts took the advice of the Obama administration to serve nothing but “health food”, under the penalty of losing Government funding of course. So long, greasy chocolate-chip cookies and over-saturated cheesy nachos. You kids are going to eat like
kings, uh….I mean,… cows.
It sounds like a great idea until you take into effect that the food served within the school cafeteria was the only food many of those kids ever eat. They don’t get to come home to a well-cooked organic meal, prepared by a loving mother. Many of the kids never get a dinner at all. So what has been the result?
The kids were starving. They would go home with no dinner and the health food didn’t sustain them long enough. Eventually the school retreated from the program and returned to its greasy, high caloric roots. It wasn’t perfect, it’s not the ideal, but at least the kids were not starving when they came home from school.
Praise God for Sodexo.
Yes, many kids are obese, and many kids are putting on weight but they aren’t starving to death. Their high calorie meals sustain them through the day. Like Oreos washed up on a desert island.
The same is true for McDonald’s, which has a very high urban market. You don’t find McDonald’s next to Whole Foods for a reason. If you only have two dollars to eat, McDonald’s sounds a whole lot better than a head of lettuce.
Praise God for two all beef patties!
I want to reinforce my point that this is not to say that there are not consequences to eating that way. Does eating unhealthily cause cancer, diabetes and a host of other health problems? Of course it does. But so does starvation. At least the former is far slower, and an enjoyable way to die.
Capitalism has found a way to feed the masses of our nation with very little cost to the consumer. That is a good thing. We can sit down over our organic Chai lattes and debate the benefits of each. These debates are literally healthy as they challenge the consumer to think more about what they eat and encourage the corporations to think more about what they sell.
I recall watching a special on CNBC about supermarkets, and the head of Wal-Mart Produce was pointing to the organic section. This section was new in Wal-Mart not because Wal-Mart felt obligated to provide a service to their consumers that they didn’t want. Nor were they forced to do so by the government, but because the market itself demanded it.
As consumers demand higher calorie, low cost, healthier foods, capitalism- an institution by God-will find a way. Cue Jurassic Park theme.
Let’s be honest. In the history of the earth, GMOs are a relatively new problem. And they are indeed a problem that only countries with too much food argue about. It is a problem that solves famines and starvation, and much like antibiotics, overuse can be dangerous. But no one should be arguing against them in their entirety.
Unless of course black plagues are something you aspire to relive.
I for one enjoy going into McDonald’s and never having to worry about being denied a super-sized french fry because of a potato famine. I like knowing that food is abundantly available for low costs and I hope one day that organic foods can be produced, penny to the calorie, match for match against a cheeseburger. But the technology is just not there…yet. So perhaps instead of whining about how evil companies like Monsanto (and yes, they are truly evil crony capitalists) are getting too big and harming your tiny family farm, how about farmers just get smarter than Monsanto, and healthier than Monsanto, and cheaper than Monsanto and more profitable than Monsanto?
Do we have to be responsible? Certainly.
No one is arguing that. GMOs are new, and there are sure to be problems with them. Evil companies working alongside of Big Government certainly doesn’t help.
But three hundred years from now, five hundred years from now, most of those problems will be solved. This includes the problem of producing meat, without animal death.
Soy Bacon is not that appetizing…now…
But as the Gospel advances, capitalism will find a way…
Or else, despite your prayers, there won’t be Chick-Fil-A on the new earth.
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