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Researching Health - For the Christian

NOTE: This article is for Christians, and Seventh-day Adventist in particular. BUT don't feel left out, we have another article for those of you wanting to study the Scientific end -- Click here for part 2!!!

How do you know what to choose and who to believe when it comes to health?  What are the guidelines we have in the Bible and S of P?  You need to learn, study, and decide for yourself.  The same people that would never take the Pastor’s word for it’ in doctrine, and will take the ‘Doctor’s word for it in health.  (Or book) Doctors and authors are just as human as pastors.  Yes, even our conservative, SDA doctors.  So lets look at a few of the guides from the Bible.

There are the straight forward ones from the Bible: unclean meats, alcohol, etc.  And of course S or P adds clarity to many others, such as tobacco, coffee, and tea.  We know she recommends an all vegetarian diet, drinking plenty of water, and so on. 

So, what about foods and issues not listed in the above sources or only mentioned casually?  Like say, Vegenaise or vitamin supplements.  Since many people use Vegenaise and occasionally vinegar let’s use that as our example.  Remember the steps are the same for other topics. 

There was a time I would NEVER had used Vegenaise because of the vinegar in it.  Somewhere along the line I thought it was forbidden just like coffee.  I didn’t research it, except to read the one quote about salad, because “everyone” said we are not supposed to use it.  In fact I was absolutely sure there was a quote somewhere that it should never touch your lips.  Well I started to wonder about it after a while,  I slowly started using it myself because others in my circle of friends were, and then I realized I had to stop being led by the crowd.  You know good or bad, we need to make our own informed choices. 

So where do you start when trying to decide whether to eat a certain food, or use a certain food supplement.  First place, of course is the Bible.  Does the Bible forbid it?  (Remember we are just using vinegar as an example).  What does the Bible say about it?  Is there a principle that covers it.  And before you open the Good Book, you need to pray for a surrendered attitude.  No point in studying if you are just trying to prove a point.

Using the concordance I found 11 verses in the Bible with the word vinegar.  The first one is Numbers 6:3 - you can turn there in your own Bible.  (Remember this is a study, and you may see things differently, I just want to take you through the steps of researching health topics so you can decide for yourself.)   “He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.”  Well the first part of the verse is pretty clear.  He (whomever he is) should never drink vinegar.  Drink vinegar?  Yes, please remember people drank vinegar like a drink both in Bible times and in Sister White’s day.  So, who is “he” and was this a mosaic law?  What is the context of the verse?  The first clue this verse doesn’t apply to everyone is that last part.   “He” must not eat grapes or raisins either.  So on further investigation, we can see from verse 2 this is for Nazarites, go ahead and read verse 2.

The next verse is Ruth 2:14.  “And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.”  So Boaz and Ruth ate vinegar with their food, perhaps a bit different from drinking it.  The rest of the verses apply to Christ.  So, I don’t see anywhere in the Bible a command not to eat vinegar, but that doesn’t mean it is ok, because cigarettes and coffee aren’t in the Bible either.  Let’s move on to Spirit of Prophecy.  (By the way you can probably skip the Bible part for many of the “grey” health issues, they didn’t have medicine or vitamins back then either!)

There are 22 quotes on vinegar in the Ellen White data base and 18 of those refer to Jesus dying on the cross. So that leaves 4 - one on the salad, two in regard to Ellen White’s personal struggle with cravings, and the one where she quotes someone else who lumps sugar, vinegar, meat eating, tea and coffee in one sentence.

What about the quote about oil and vinegar in salad? Well, is it the oil or the vinegar or both that create the problem?  Or perhaps the lettuce or the person she was writing the letter to.  You see so often we assume things based on tradition and assumption.  There is no clear distinction that eating vinegar in food is itself a sin.  In fact, Sister White is very informative on that subject of what is sin.  We should be very careful in the food combinations we eat. 

Then there is Mrs. White’s personal struggle with vinegar.  Remember, it is likely she struggled with giving up drinking vinegar as a beverage.  Not, using a Tbsp of it in a dressing or recipe.  And people often struggle with intemperance in eating too much, sugar, salt, etc.  But this doesn’t make them always sinful to eat.  (Well actually, it is sinful to eat too much.)  Anyway let’s look at the last quote.

"You say again, "They are not educated in regard to the injurious effects of meat eating and of using sugar and vinegar, tea and coffee. That is, they depend for their herb drink on tea from China and coffee from Java. These things are injurious and deleterious to the human system. Tea and coffee are stimulants and poisons, and their effects have been presented before them." {20MR 2.4}  In this quote, Mrs. White is quoting another person. The person combines meat, sugar, vinegar, coffee and tea in a sentence, but Mrs. White separates tea and coffee as poisons. They are not given the same weight. With only 4 quotes on the subject, I cannot be as worried about it as other items such as eating too much!

There are lots of quotes on condiments and vinegar is used in condiments - mustard, ketchup, pickles, relish, etc. BUT there is lots of SALT and spices too! So, the choice is up to you. How little or how much you want to do for your own health is up to you. 

It is not a question of whether vinegar is good for you, it is not necessarily good for you!  I am merely trying to decide if it is acceptable by God for me to eat occasional foods with vinegar in them.  From the above study I do not believe vinegar to be a sin, or as harmful as other foods that could be put on my plate.  Such as loading my plate with 5 or 6 or 7 different foods at potluck - which Sister White condemns very clearly in more than one quote.  However, that does not mean vinegar is healthy and should be used everyday.  You can see why we need the Holy Spirit when studying. 

Well, this health nugget is not about vinegar, it is about making informed choices and not just blindly following tradition, or others we agree with because, because we don’t have the time to look at it for ourselves.  Keep in mind when areas are grey, God hasn’t written them in stone, we should be very accepting of other’s opinions on those matters, even those who live in our own homes.  We are not here to convince everyone of every little particular in regard to health principles.  Give them the basics, and teach them to think for themselves!

What about health topics not covered in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy, or maybe you want to learn about a certain item, like vitamin supplements? 

Check out our article: 7 Steps How to Research Health Information -- Click Here.