Chapter 21: CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR


Seventh-day Adventists Believe...

We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and

act in harmony with the principles of heaven. For the Spirit

to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve

ourselves only in those things which will produce Christlike

purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our

amusement and entertainment should meet the hightest

standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing

cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and

neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of

outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a

gentle and quiet spirit. It also means that because our

bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are to care

for them intelligently. Along with adequate exercise and

rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and

abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures.

Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible

use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are

to abstain from them as well. Instead, we are to engage in

whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline

of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness.

--Fundamental Beliefs, 21.

 

CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR

Christian behavior--the lifestyle of a follower of

God--arises as a grateful response to God's magnificent

salvation through Christ. Paul appeals to all Christians: "I

beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that

you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable

to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be

conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing

of your mind, that you may prove which is that good and

acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:1,2). So

Christians willingly protect and develop their mental,

physical and spiritual faculties in order that they may

honor their Creator and Redeemer.

Christ prayed, "`I do not pray that You should take them

out of the world, but that You should keep them from the

evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the

world'" (John 17:15,16). How can a Christian be both in the

world and separate from it? How should the Christian

lifestyle differ from that of the world?

Christians should adopt a different lifestyle, not for

the sake of being different but because God has called them

to live by principle. The lifestyle to which He has called

them enables them to reach their full potential as His

creation, making them efficient in His service. Being

different also advances their mission: to serve the

world--to be salt in it, light to it. Of what value would

salt be without taste, or light that didn't differ from

darkness?

Christ is our example. He lived so thoroughly in the

world that people accused Him of being "`a glutton and a

drunkard'" (Matt. 11:19, NIV), though He was not. He so

consistently lived out God's principles that no one could

prove Him guilty of sin (John 8:46, NIV).

Behavior and Salvation

In determining what is appropriate behavior, we should

avoid two extremes. The first is accepting the rules and

applications of principles to become as a means of

salvation. Paul sums up this extreme with the words, "You

who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated

from Christ; you have fallen away from grace"

(Gal. 5:4, NIV).

The opposite extreme is believing that since works do not

save, they are therefore unimportant--that what a person

does really doesn't matter. Paul spoke to this extreme too:

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use

your freedom to indulge the sinful nature" (Gal. 5:13, NIV).

When each member follows his or her own conscience, "there

is no mutual discipling of fellow Christians in keeping with

Matthew 18 and Galatians 6:1,2. The church becomes not the

body of Christ, within which there is mutual love and care,

but a collection of atomistic individuals, each of whom goes

his or her own way without taking any responsibility for

one's fellows or accepting any concern for them."(*1)

While our behavior and our spirituality are closely

related, we can never earn salvation by correct behavior.

Rather, Christian behavior is a natural fruit of salvation

and is grounded in what Christ has already accomplished for

us at Calvary.

Temples of the Holy Spirit

Not only the church but the individual Christian is a

temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit: "Do you not

know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is

in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?"

(1 Cor. 6:19).

Christians, then, practice good health habits to protect

the command center of their body temples, the mind, the

dwelling place of the Spirit of Christ. For this reason

Seventh-day Adventists--throughout the past 100 years--have

stressed the importance of proper health habits.(*2) And

this emphasis has been paying off: Recent research reveals

that Adventists are less likely than the general population

to develop almost any of the major diseases.(*3)

As Christians, we are concerned with both the spiritual

and the physical aspects of people's lives. Jesus, our

pattern, healed "every disease and sickness among the

people" (Matt. 4:23, NIV).

The Bible views human beings as a unit (chapter 7). "The

dichotomy between spiritual and material is foreign to the

Bible."(*4) So God's call to holiness involves a call to

physical as well as spiritual health. Susannah Wesley,

mother of the founder of Methodism, aptly summarized this

principle: "Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the

tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God,

decreases the strength and authority of your mind over your

body--that thing is wrong, however innocent it may be in

itself."(*5)

God's laws, which include the laws of health, are not

arbitrary but are designed by our Creator to enable us to

enjoy life at its best. Satan, the enemy, wants to steal our

health, our joy, our peace of mind, and ultimately to

destroy us (see John 10:10).

God's Blessings for Total Health

Attaining this health depends upon practicing a few

rather simple but effective God-given principles. Some of

these are obvious and quite agreeable to most people.

Others, such as proper diet, are more difficult to accept

since they involve orientations and habits so basic to our

lifestyles. For this reason, we will devote more space to

those principles that are either misunderstood, debated, or

rejected.(*6)

The Blessing of Exercise

Regular exercise is the simple formula for increased

energy, a firm body, stress relief, healthier skin, more

self-confidence, effective weight control, improved

digestion and regularity, and reduced depression and the

risk of heart disease and cancer. Exercise is not merely an

option, it is essential to maintaining optimal health--both

physical and mental.(*7)

Useful activity tends to prosperity; inactivity and

laziness tend to adversity (Prov. 6:6-13; 14:23). God

prescribed activity for the first man and woman--care for

their garden home in the open air (Gen. 2:5,15; 3:19).

Christ Himself set an example of physical activity. For most

of His life He was engaged in manual labor as a carpenter,

and during His ministry He walked the roads of Palestine.

(*8)

The Blessing of Sunlight

Light is essential to life (Gen. 1:3). It powers the

process that produces the nutrients that nourish and

energize our bodies and that releases the oxygen we must

have to live. Sunshine promotes health and healing.

The Blessing of Water

The human body is 75 percent water, but this vital fluid

is continuously being lost through exhaled air,

perspiration, and waste products. Drinking six to eight

glasses of pure water a day would aid in maintaining

efficient, happy well-being. Another important function of

water is its use for cleanliness and the relaxation it

affords.

The Blessing of Fresh Air

An environment of impure air, in or outside of the home,

causes the blood to carry less oxygen than is required for

the optimal function of every cell. This tends to make a

person less alert and responsive. It is therefore important

to do everything possible to secure a generous supply of

fresh air daily.

The Blessing of Temperate,

Drug-Free, Stimulant-Free Living

Drugs have saturated our society because they offer

stimulation and release from stress and pain. The Christian

is surrounded with seductive invitations to use drugs. Even

many innocent-appearing, popular beverages contain drugs:

Coffee, tea, and colas contain caffeine,(*9) and

fruit-flavored wine coolers contain alcohol. Research has

shown that the milder gateway drugs tend to lead

progressively to stronger mind-altering drugs. The wise

Christian will abstain from all that is harmful, using in

moderation only that which is good.

1. Tobacco.

In any form tobacco is a slow poison that has a harmful

effect on the physical, mental, and moral powers. At first

its effects are hardly noticeable. It excites and then

paralyzes the nerves, weakening and clouding the brain.

Those who use tobacco are slowly committing suicide,(*10)

transgressing the sixth commandment: "Thou shalt not kill"

(Ex. 20:13, KJV).

2. Alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs on Planet

Earth. It has devastated untold millions. Not only does it

hurt those who use it, but it exacts its toll from society

in general--through broken homes, accidental deaths, and

poverty.

Since God communicates with us only through our minds, it

is well to remember that alcohol adversely affects their

every function. As the level of alcohol in the system rises,

the drinker progresses through loss of coordination,

confusion, disorientation, stupor, anesthesia, coma, and

death. Drinking alcoholic beverages on a regular basis will

eventually produce loss of memory, judgment, and learning

ability.(*11)

Scriptural stories involving the use of alcoholic

beverages may give the impression that God approved their

use. However, Scripture also indicates that God's people

participated in such social practices as divorce, polygamy,

and slavery--practices that God certainly did not condone.

In interpreting such Scriptural passages, it is helpful to

keep in mind that God does not necessarily endorse all that

He permits.

Jesus' answer to the query as to why Moses permitted

divorce points to this principle of interpretation. He said,

"`Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted

you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not

so'" (Matt. 19:8).(*12) Eden is the divine model to which

the gospel would restore us. As is true of these other

practices, the use of alcohol was not a part of God's

original plan.(*13)

3. Other drugs and narcotics.

There are many other harmful drugs and narcotics through

which Satan destroys human lives.(*14) True Christians

beholding Christ will continually glorify God with their

bodies, realizing that they are His prized possessions,

bought with His precious blood.

The Blessing of Rest

Proper rest is essential for health of body and mind.

Christ extends to us the compassionate directive He gave His

weary disciples: "`Come with me by yourselves to a quiet

place and get some rest'" (Mark 6:31, NIV). Periods of rest

provide much needed quietness for communion with God: "Be

still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). God stressed our

need for rest by setting aside the seventh day of the week

as the day of rest (Ex. 20:10).

Rest is more than sleeping or ceasing our regular work.

It involves the way we spend our leisure time. Weariness is

not always caused by stress or by working too hard or too

long: Our minds can be wearied by overstimulation through

the media, sickness, or various personal problems.

Recreation is re-creation in the truest sense of the

word. It strengthens, builds up, and refreshes the mind and

body, thus preparing believers to go back to their vocations

with new vigor. To live life at its best, Christians should

pursue only those forms of recreation and entertainment that

strengthen their bond with Christ and improve health.

Scripture lays down the following principle, which will

help Christians select good recreation: "Do not love the

world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the

world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is

in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,

and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the

world" (1 John 2:15,16).

1. Movies, television, radio, and videos.

These media can be great educational agencies. They have

"changed the whole atmosphere of our modern world and have

brought us within easy contact with the life, thought, and

activities of the entire globe."(*15) The Christian will

remember that television and videos make a greater impact on

the life of an individual than does any other single

activity.

Unfortunately, video and television, with its almost

continuous theatrical performances, bring influences into

the home that are neither wholesome nor uplifting. If we are

not discriminating and decisive, "they will turn our homes

into theaters and minstrel shows of a cheap and sordid

kind."(*16) The committed Christian will turn away from

unwholesome, violent, sensual movies and television

programs.

Visual and audio media are not evil in themselves. The

same channels that portray the depths of human wickedness

convey the preaching of the gospel of salvation. And many

other worthwhile programs are broadcast. But people can use

even the good programs to avoid the responsibilities of

life. Christians will not only desire to establish

principles for determining what to watch but will also set

time limits on their watching, so that social relationships

and the responsibilities of life will not suffer. If we

cannot discriminate or if we lack the power to control our

media, it is much better to dispense with them altogether

than to have them rule our lives either by polluting the

mind or consuming excessive amounts of time

(see Matt. 5:29,30).

Regarding our contemplation of Christ, an important

Biblical principle states that "by beholding we are becoming

transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory"

(2 Cor. 3:18, NIV). Beholding brings change. But Christians

must continually remember that this principle works on the

negative side, too. Films graphically portraying the sins

and crimes of humanity--murder, adultery, robbery, and other

degrading acts--are contributing to the present breakdown of

morality.

Paul's advice in Philippians 4:8 lays out a principle

that helps to identify the forms of recreation that have

value: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true,

whatever things are noble, whatever things are just,

whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely,

whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue

and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these

things."

2. Reading and music.

These same high standards apply to the Christian's

reading and music. Music is a gift of God to inspire pure,

noble, and elevated thoughts. Good music, then, enhances the

finest qualities of character.

Debased music, on the other hand, "destroys the rhythm of

the soul and breaks down morality." So Christ's followers

will shun "any melody partaking of the nature of jazz, rock,

or related hybrid forms, or any language expressing foolish

or trivial sentiments."(*17) The Christian does not listen

to music with suggestive lyrics or melodies (Rom. 13:11-14;

1 Peter 2:11).(*18)

Reading offers much that is valuable too. There is a

wealth of good literature that cultivates and expands the

mind. Yet there is also a "flood of evil literature, often

in most attractive guise but damaging to mind and morals.

The tales of wild adventure and of moral laxness, whether

fact or fiction," are unfit for believers because they

create a distaste for a noble, honest, and pure lifestyle

and hinder the development of a union with Christ.(*19)

3. Unacceptable activities.

Adventists also teach that gambling, card playing,

theater going, and dancing are to be avoided (1 John

2:15-17). They question spending time watching violent

sporting events (Phil. 4:8). Any activity that weakens our

relationship with our Lord and causes us to lose sight of

eternal interests helps to bind Satan's chains about our

souls. Christians will rather participate in those wholesome

forms of leisure activities that will truly refresh their

physical, mental, and spiritual natures.

The Blessing of Nutritious Food

To the first couple, the Creator gave the ideal diet: "`I

give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole

earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They

will be yours for food'" (Gen. 1:29, NIV). After the Fall,

God added to their diet "`the plants of the fields'"

(Gen. 3:18, NIV).

Today's health problems tend to center on the

degenerative type of diseases that are directly traceable to

diet and lifestyle. The diet God planned, consisting of

grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, offers the right

nutritional ingredients to support optimum health.

1. The original diet.

The Bible does not condemn the eating of clean animals.

But God's original diet for man did not include flesh foods

because He did not envision the taking of any animal's life

and because a balanced vegetarian diet is the best for

health--a fact for which science offers mounting

evidence.(*20) People consuming animal products that contain

bacteria or viruses that cause disease may have their health

impaired.(21) It is estimated that every year, in the United

States alone, millions suffer from poultry food poisoning

because inspection fails to detect contamination by

salmonella and other microorganisms.(*22) Several experts

feel that "bacterial contamination poses a far greater risk

than chemical additives and preservatives in food" and

expect the incidence of the diseases caused by these

bacteria to rise.(*23)

Furthermore, studies conducted in recent years indicate

that increased meat consumption can cause an increase of

atherosclerosis, cancer, kidney disorders, osteoporosis, and

trichinosis, and can decrease the life expectancy.(*24)

The diet God ordained in the Garden of Eden--the

vegetarian diet--is the ideal, but sometimes we cannot have

the ideal. In those circumstances, in any given situation or

locale, those who wish to stay in optimum health will eat

the best food that they can obtain.

2. Clean and unclean flesh foods.

Only after the Flood did God introduce flesh as food.

With all vegetation destroyed, God gave Noah and his family

permission to eat flesh foods, stipulating that they were

not to eat the blood in the meat (Gen. 9:3-5).

Another stipulation Scripture implies that God gave Noah

was that he and his family were to eat only what God

identified as clean animals. It was because Noah and his

family needed the clean animals for food as well as for

sacrifices (Gen. 8:20) that God instructed Noah to take

seven pairs of each kind of clean animal, in contrast to

only one pair of each kind of unclean, with him into the ark

(Gen. 7:2,3). Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 provide

extensive expositions on clean and unclean foods.(*25)

By nature, unclean animals do not constitute the best

food. Many are either scavengers or predators--from the lion

and swine to the vulture and the bottom-dwelling,

sucker-type fish. Because of their habits they are more apt

to be carriers of disease.

Studies have revealed that "in addition to the moderate

amounts of cholesterol found in both pork and shellfish,

both foods contain a number of toxins and contaminants which

are associated with human poisoning."(*26)

By abstaining from unclean foods, God's people

demonstrated their gratefulness for their redemption from

the corrupt, unclean world around them (Lev. 20:24-26; Deut.

14:2). To introduce anything unclean into the body temple

where God's Spirit dwells is less than God's ideal.

The New Testament did not abolish the distinction between

the clean and unclean flesh foods. Some believe that because

these dietary laws are mentioned in Leviticus, they are

merely ceremonial or ritualistic, and so are no longer valid

for Christians. Yet the distinction between clean and

unclean animals dates back to Noah's day--long before Israel

existed. As principles of health, these dietary laws carry

with them an ongoing obligation.(*27)

3. Regularity, simplicity, and balance.

Successful dietary reforms are progressive and must be

approached intelligently. Eventually we should learn to

eliminate, or use only sparingly, foods with high fat and/or

sugar content.

Furthermore, we should prepare the foods we eat in as

simple and natural a way as possible, and for optimum

benefit, should eat at regular intervals. Complex,

stimulating diets are not the most healthful. Many

condiments and spices irritate the digestive tract,(*28) and

their habitual use is associated with a number of health

problems.(*29)

The Blessing of Christian Dress

God provided the first clothing for Adam and Eve and

knows that we have need of suitable clothing today (Matt.

6:25-33). We should base our choice of clothing on the

principles of simplicity, modesty, practicality, health, and

attractiveness.

1. Simple.

As it does in all other areas of our lives, the Christian

call to simplicity impinges upon how we dress. "Christian

witness calls for simplicity.

"The way we dress demonstrates to the world who we are

and what we are--not as a legal requirement handed down from

the Victorian era, but as an expression of our love for

Jesus."(*30)

2. Of high moral virture.

Christians will not mar the beauty of their characters

with styles that arouse the "lust of the flesh" (1 John

2:16). Because they want to witness to others, they will

dress and act modestly, not accentuating the parts of the

body that stimulate sexual desires. Modesty promotes moral

health. The Christian's aim is to glorify God, not self.

3. Practical and economical.

Because they are stewards of the money God has entrusted

to them, Christians will practice economy, avoiding "gold or

pearls or costly clothing" (1 Tim. 2:9). Practicing economy,

however, does not necessarily mean purchasing the cheapest

clothing available. Often higher quality items are more

economical in the long run.

4. Healthful.

It is not only diet that affects a person's health.

Christians will avoid clothing styles that do not adequately

protect the body or that constrict it or otherwise affect it

in such ways as to cause the health to deteriorate.

5. Characterized by grace and natural beauty.

Christians understand the warning against "the pride of

life" (1 John 2:16). Referring to the lilies, Christ said,

"`even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of

these'" (Matt. 6:29). Thus He illustrated that Heaven's

perception of beauty is characterized by grace, simplicity,

purity, and natural beauty. Worldly display, as seen in

transient fashions, has no value in God's eyes (1 Tim. 2:9).

Christians win unbelievers not by looking and behaving

like the world but by revealing an attractive and refreshing

difference. Peter said unbelieving spouses "may be won by

the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste

conduct accompanied by fear." Instead of adorning the

exterior, he counseled, let believers concentrate on

developing "the hidden person of the heart, with the

incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which

is very precious in the sight of God" (1 Peter 3:1-4).

Scripture teaches that:

a. The character shows forth one's true beauty.

Both Peter and Paul set forth the basic principle for

guiding Christian men and women in the area of adornment:

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such

as...the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes" (1 Peter

3:3, NIV). "I also want women to dress modestly with decency

and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or

expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for

women who profess to worship God" (1 Tim. 2:9,10, NIV).

b. Simplicity harmonizes with reformation and revival.

When Jacob called his family to dedicate themselves to

God they gave up "all the foreign gods which were in their

hands, and all their earrings which were in their ears," and

Jacob buried them (Gen. 35:2,4).(*31)

After Israel's apostasy with the golden calf, God

commanded them, "Take off your ornaments, that I may know

what to do to you." In penitence they "stripped themselves

of their ornaments" (Ex. 33:5,6). Paul clearly states that

Scripture records this apostasy "as warnings for us, on whom

the fulfillment of the ages has come" (1 Cor. 10:11, NIV).

c. Good stewardship requires sacrificial living.

While much of the world is undernourished, materialism

lays before Christians temptations ranging from expensive

clothes, cars, and jewelry to luxurious homes. Simplicity of

lifestyle and appearance sets Christians in stark contrast

to the greed, materialism, and gaudiness of pagan,

twentieth-century society, where values focus on material

things rather than on people.

In view of these Scriptural teachings and the principles

laid out above, we believe that Christians ought not to

adorn themselves with jewelry. We understand this to mean

that the wearing of rings, earrings, necklaces, and

bracelets, and showy tie tacks, cuff links, and pins--and

any other type of jewelry that has as its main function

display--is unnecessary and not in harmony with the

simplicity of adornment urged by Scripture.(*32)

The Bible associates gaudy cosmetics with paganism and

apostasy (2 Kings 9:30; Jer. 4:30). As to cosmetics,

therefore, we believe that Christians should maintain a

natural, healthy appearance. If we lift up the Saviour in

the way we speak, act, and dress, we become like magnets,

drawing people to Him.(*33)

Principles of Christian Standards

In all its manifestations, the Christian lifestyle is a

response to salvation through Christ. The Christian desires

to honor God and to live as Jesus would live. Although some

view the Christian lifestyle as a list of don'ts, we should

rather see it as a series of positive principles active in

the framework of salvation. Jesus emphasized that He came

that we might have life and have it more abundantly. What

are the principles that guide us to the full life? When the

Holy Spirit comes into the life of an individual, a decided

change take place that is evident to those around that

person (John 3:8). The Spirit not only makes an initial

change in the life; His effects are ongoing. The fruit of

the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22,23). The most powerful

argument for the validity of Christianity is a loving and

lovable Christian.

Living With the Mind of Christ

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"

(Phil. 2:5). Under all circumstances, favorable or adverse,

we should seek to understand and live in harmony with the

will and mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16).

Ellen White has noted the beautiful results of a life

that is lived in this kind of a relationship with Christ:

"All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work

with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself

with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds

into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall

be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and

sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His

service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know

Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through

an appreciation of the character of Christ, through

communion with God, sin will become hateful to us."(*34)

Living to Praise and Glorify God

God has done so much for us. One way in which we can show

our gratitude is through the praise that we give Him.

The Psalms strongly emphasize this side of the spiritual

life: "I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your

power and your glory. Because your love is better than life,

my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I

live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will

be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips

my mouth will praise you" (Ps. 63:2-5, NIV).

For the Christian, such an attitude of praise will keep

life's other affairs in an appropriate perspective. In

looking upon our crucified Saviour who redeemed us from the

penalty and delivers us from the power of sin, we are

motivated to do only "those things that are pleasing in His

sight" (1 John 3:22; cf. Eph. 5:10, NIV). Christians "live

no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and

rose again" (2 Cor. 5:15). Every true Christian puts God

first in all he does, in all he thinks, in all he speaks,

and in all that he desires. He has no other gods before His

Redeemer (1 Cor. 10:31).

Living to Be an Example

Paul said "give no offense" to anyone (1 Cor. 10:32). "I

myself always strive to have a conscience without offense

toward God and men" (Acts 24:16). If our example leads

others to sin, we become stumbling blocks to those for whom

Christ died. "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as

Jesus did" (1 John 2:6, NIV).

Living to Minister

A major reason Christians live as they do is to save lost

men and women. Said Paul, "I try to please everybody in

every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of

many, so that they may be saved" (1 Cor. 10:33, NIV; cf.

Matt. 20:28).

Requirements and Guidelines

Because of the impact a person's lifestyle makes upon his

spiritual experience and his witness, as a church

organization we have set certain lifestyle standards as

minimal requirements for becoming members. These standards

include the abstention from tobacco, alcoholic beverages,

mind-altering chemicals, and unclean foods and the evidence

of a growing Christian experience in matters of dress and

the use of leisure time. These minimal standards do not

comprehend all of God's ideal for the believer. They simply

signify essential first steps in developing a growing,

radiant Christian experience. Such standards also provide

the foundation essential to unity within the community of

believers.

The development of Christian behavior--"God-likeness"--is

progressive, involving a lifelong union with Christ. Holy

living is nothing less than a daily yielding of the will to

Christ's control and a daily conformity to His teachings as

He reveals them to us in our Bible study and prayer. Because

we mature at different rates, it is important that we

refrain from judging weaker brothers or sisters

(Rom. 14:1; 15:1).

Christians in union with the Saviour have but one ideal:

that they shall do their best to honor the heavenly Father,

who has provided such a rich plan for their salvation.

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do

all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

References

1. L.A. King, "Legalism or Permissiveness: An Inescapable

Dilemma?" The Christian Century, April 16, 1980, p. 436.

2. For the development of the Biblical basis of healthful

living in the SDA Church, see Damsteegt, Foundations of the

Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission, pp. 221-240;

Damsteegt, "Health Reforms and the Bible in Early

Sabbatarian Adventism," Adventist Heritage, Winter l978, pp.

13-21.

3. See Lewis R. Walton, Jo Ellen Walton, John A.

Scharffenberg, How You Can Live Six Extra Years (Santa

Barbara, CA: Woodbridge Press, 1981), p. 4; D.C. Nieman and

H.J. Stanton, "The Adventist Lifestyle--A Better Way to

Live," Vibrant Life, March/April 1988, pp. 14-18.

4. Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand

Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishers, 1975), vol, 1, p. 884.

5. C.B. Haynes, "Church Standards--No. 5," Review and

Herald, Oct. 30, 1941, p. 7.

6. For a fuller treatment of these simple health rules, see

V.W. Foster, New Start! (Santa Barbara, CA: Woodbridge

Press, 1988).

7. See, e.g., Kenneth H. Cooper, Aerobics Program for Total

Well Being (New York: M. Evans, 1982); Physical Fitness

Education Syllabus (Loma Linda, CA: Department of Health

Science, School of Health, Loma Linda University,

1976-1977); John Dignam, "Walking Into Shape," Signs of the

Times, July 1987, p. 16; B.E. Baldwin, "Exercise," Journal

of Health and Healing 11, No. 4 (1987): 20-23: Jeanne

Wiesseman, Physical Fitness, Abundant Living Health Service,

vol. 5 (Loma Linda, CA: School of Health, Loma Linda

University, n.d.), pp. 21,37,38,45. See also Dianne-Jo

Moore, "Walk Your Tensions Away," Your Life and Health, No.

4 (1984): 12,13.

8. Among the various forms of exercise, walking ranks as

one of the best. See J. A. Scharffenberg, "Adventist

Responsibility in Exercise" (unpublished manuscript); White,

Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 78; White, "Temperance," Health

Reformer, April 1872, p. 122; Dignam, "Walking Into Shape,"

pp. 16,17.

9. Caffeine has also been found to contribute to increased

blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, increased gastric

secretions, and peptic ulcers. It has been implicated in

heart disease, diabetes, and cancers of the colon, bladder,

and pancreas. Its heavy use during pregnancy increases the

risk of birth defects and low-birth-weight infants. See

Robert O' Brien and Sidney Cohen, "Caffeine," Encyclopedia

of Drug Abuse (New York: Facts on File, 1984), pp. 50,51;

Marjorie V. Baldwin, "Caffeine on Trial," Life and Health,

October 1973, pp. 10-13; E.D. Gorham, L.F. Garland, F.C.

Garland, et al, "Coffee and Pancreatic Cancer in a Rural

California Country," Western Journal of Medicine, January

1988, pp. 48-53; B.K. Jacobsen, and D.S. Thelle, "The

Tromso" Heart Study: Is Coffee Drinking an Indicator of a

Lifestyle With High Risk for Ischemic Heart Disease?" Acta

Medica Scandinavica 222, No. 3 (1987), 215-221; J.D. Curb,

D.M. Reed, J.A. Kautz, and K. Yano, "Coffee, Caffeine and

Serum Cholesterol in Japanese Living in Hawaii," American

Journal of Epidemiology, April 1986, pp. 648-655. High

consumers of coffee are also "less active in religion" (B.S.

Victor, M. Lubetsky, and J.F. Greden, "Somatic

Manifestations of Caffeinism," Journal of Clinical

Psychiatry, May 1981, p. 186). For the caffeine content of

the various beverages, see "The Latest Caffeine Scoreboard,"

FDA Consumer, March 1984, pp. 14-16; Bosley, "Caffeine: Is

It So Harmless?" Ministry, August 1986, p. 28; Winston J.

Craig and Thuy T. Nguyen, "Caffeine and Theobromine Levels

in Cocoa and Carob Products," Journal of Food Science,

January-February, 1984, pp. 302-303, 305.

10.Regarding the circulatory system, tobacco increases the

risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, and peripheral

vascular disease such as Buerger's disease, which

necessitates the amputation of fingers and toes. As to the

respiratory system, tobacco brings an increase of deaths as

a result of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.

It paralyzes the bronchial cilia that cleanse the lung and

bronchi of impurities and is associated with cancer of the

larynx, mouth, esophagus, urinary bladder, kidney, and

pancreas. It is also associated with an increase of duodenal

ulcers and deaths from complications resulting from ulcers.

See e.g., Smoking and Health: A Report of the Surgeon

General (Washington, D.C.; U.S. Department of Health,

Education, and Welfare, 1979).

11.See, e.g., Galen C. Bosley, "The Effects of Small

Quantities of Alcohol," Ministry, May 1986, pp. 24-27. Among

social drinkers alcohol causes shrinkage of the frontal

lobes, the center of moral discernment (L.A. Cala, B. Jones,

P. Burns, et al, "Results of Computerized Tomography,

Psychometric Testing and Dietary Studies in Social Drinkers,

With Emphasis on Reversibility After Abstinence," Medical

Journal of Australia, Sept. 17, 1983, pp. 264-269). Cf.

Bosley, "Why a Health Message," Adventist Review, July 30,

1987, p. 15. Psychological testing of social drinkers showed

that their mental abilities and intellectual performance

were significantly impaired (D.A. Parker, E.S. Parker, J.A.

Brody, and R. Schoenberg, "Alcohol Use and Cognitive Loss

Among Employed Men and Women," American Journal of Public

Health, May 1983, pp. 521-526). As alcohol intake increases,

church attendance decreases (A.M. Eward, R. Wolfe, P. Moll,

and E. Harburg, "Psychosocial and Behavioral Factors

Differentiating Past Drinkers and Lifelong Abstainers,"

American Journal of Public Health, January 1986, p. 69.

12.See Chapter 15, footnote 8 for a discussion of wine at

the Lord's Supper.

13.In the Old Testament, the general term for wine is

yayin. This term designates the juice of the grape in all

its stages from unfermented to fermented, though it is

frequently used for fully aged wine that contains alcohol.

The usual word for unfermented wine is tirosh. It is

frequently translated an "new wine," which is freshly

pressed grape juice. Both terms are rendered oinos in the

Septuagintal Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX).

Oinos is the term generally used for wine in the New

Testament and refers to both fermented and unfermented wine,

depending on the context. (For the Old Testament see Robert

P. Teachout, "The Use of `Wine' in the Old Testament" (Th.

D. dissertation, 1979, available through University

Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI); Lael O. Caesar,

"The Meaning of Yayin" (unpublished M.A. thesis, Andrews

University, Berrien Springs, MI, 1986; William Patton, Bible

Wines (Oklahoma City, OK: Sane Press, n.d.), pp. 54-64.

The expression "strong drink" (shekar in Hebrew)

signifies a sweet drink, usually fermented, and generally

made from sources other than grapes. It includes products

like beer (from barley, millet, or wheat), and date or palm

wine. The expression does not refer to distilled liquors

because distillation was unknown to the Israelites (Patton,

pp. 57,58,62).

Fermented wine. Scripture condemns alcoholic wine because

it brings violence, misery, and destruction (Prov. 4:17;

23:29,35). It causes religious leaders to be oppressive

(Isa. 56:10-12) and was associated with the perversion of

judgment of Israel's leaders (Isa. 28:7) and of King

Belshazzar (Dan 5:1-30).

Unfermented wine. The Bible speaks favorably of

unfermented wine or juice and recommends it as a great

blessing. It is to be presented as an offering to God (Num.

18:12,13; Neh. 10:37-39; 13:12,13). It is one of God's

blessings (Gen. 27:28, NIV "`new wine'"; Deut. 7:13; 11:14;

Prov. 3:10; Isa. 65:8; Joel 3:18), "`cheers both God and

men'" (Judges 9:13), and symbolizes spiritual blessings

(Isa. 55:1,2; Prov. 9:2,3). It also is a healthful drink (1

Tim. 5:23).

14.See e.g., Drug Enforcement Administration, Drugs of

Abuse, 3rd ed. (Washington, D.C.: United States Department

of Justice, n.d.); Dan Sperling, "Drug Roundup," Adventist

Review, Apr. 9, 1987, pp. 12,13.

15.SDA Church Manual, p. 147.

16.Ibid.

17.Ibid., p. 148. For examples of the degradation in much

modern music and entertainment, see Tipper Gore, Raising PG

Kids in an X-rated Society, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press,

1987).

18."Another form of amusement that has an evil influence is

social dancing. `The amusement of dancing, as conducted at

the present day, is a school of depravity, a fearful curse

to society.'--Messages to Young People, p. 399 (See also p.

192). (See 2 Cor. 6:15-18; 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4; 2 Tim.

2:19-22; Eph. 5:8-11; Col. 3:5-10.)" In view of these

influences to sin, Christians would do well not to

"patronize the commercialized amusements, joining with the

worldly, careless, pleasure-loving multitudes who are

`lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God [2 Tim. 3:4]'"

(SDA Church Manual, p. 148).

19.Ibid., pp. 146,147.

20.On the adequacy of a vegetarian diet, see S. Havala, J.

Dwyer, "Position of the American Dietetic Association:

Vegetarian Diets--Technical Support Paper," Journal of the

American Dietetic Association, March 1988, pp. 352-355;

Terry D. Shultz, Winston J. Craig, et al, "Vegetarianism and

Health" in Nutrition Update, vol. 2, 1985, pp. 131-141; U.D.

Register and L.M. Sonnenberg, "The Vegetarian Diet," Journal

of the American Dietetic Association, March 1973,

pp. 253-261.

21.See Committee on the Scientific Basis of the Nation's

Meat and Poultry Inspection Program, Meat and Poultry

Inspection (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, l985),

pp. 21-42; John A. Scharffenberg, Problems With Meat (Santa

Barbara, CA: Woodbridge Press, 1979), pp. 32-35.

22.See, e.g., Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection,

Meat and Poultry Inspection, pp. 68-123; Robert M. Andrews,

"Meat Inspector: `Eat at Own Risk,'" Washington Post, May

16, 1987.

23.Frank Young, Commissioner of the Food and Drug

Administration and Sanford Miller, director of the FDA's

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, as quoted by

Carole Sugarman, "Rising Fears Over Food Safety," Washington

Post, July 23, l986. Cf. White, Counsels on Diet and Foods

(Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1946), pp. 384,385.

24.Scharffenberg, Problems With Meat, pp. 12-58.

25.See Shea, "Clean and Unclean Meats." (unpublished

manuscript, Biblical Research Institute, General Conference

of SDA).

26.Winston J. Craig, "Pork and Shellfish--How Safe Are

They?" Health and Healing 12, No. 1 (1988): 10-12.

27.The New Testament concern for holiness is consistent

with that of the Old Testament. There is a spiritual as well

as a physical interest in people's well-being (Matt. 4:23; 1

Thess. 5:23; 1 Peter 1:15,16).

Mark's statement that Jesus "declared all foods clean"

(Mark 7:19, RSV) does not mean that He abolished the

distinction between clean and unclean foods. The discussion

between Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes had nothing to

do with the kind of food, but with the manner in which the

disciples ate. The issue was whether or not the ritual

washing of hands before meals was necessary (Mark 7:2-5). In

effect, Jesus said what defiles a person is not the food

eaten with unwashed hands but the wicked things from the

heart (Mark 7:20-23), because the food "`does not enter his

heart but his stomach, and is eliminated.'" Thus Jesus

declared that all foods eaten with unwashed hands are

"clean" (Mark 7:19). The Greek word for food (bromata) used

here is the general term for food that refers to all kinds

of foods for human consumption; it does not designate just

flesh foods.

Peter's vision of the animals, recorded in Acts 10, did

not teach that unclean animals had become fit for food;

instead, it taught that Gentiles were not unclean and that

he could associate with them without being contaminated.

Peter himself understood the vision in this way, explaining.

"`You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep

company with or go to one of another nation. But God has

shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean'"

(Acts 10:28).

In his letters to the Romans and Corinthians (Rom. 14; 1

Cor. 8:4-13; 10:25-28) Paul addressed the implications for

Christians of the widespread practice in the Gentile world

of offering flesh foods to idols. The issue among the early

Christians was whether the eating of food offered to idols

was an act of worship. Those strong in their faith did not

believe it was, and thus they would eat all edible things

offered to idols. Those who did not have such strong faith

used only vegetables, which were not offered to idols. Paul

urged that no one should despise those who eat vegetables,

or judge those who "eat all things" suitable for food

(Rom. 14:2).

Paul warned against future heresies that would forbid

believers to partake of the two things God gave humanity at

Creation--marriage and food. The foods involved are all

foods God had created for human consumption. Paul's words

here should not be taken to mean that unclean foods were

"created to be received with thanksgiving by those who

believe and know the truth" (1 Tim. 4:3).

28.Pepper, spices, mustard, pickles, and similar substances

hurt the stomach. At first they irritate the lining of the

stomach. Then they break down its mucous barrier, destroying

its resistance to injury. Irritation of the stomach affects

the brain, which in turn influences the temperament, often

producing irritability. Cf. M.A. Schneider et al., "The

Effect of Spice Ingestion on the Stomach," American Journal

of Gastroenterology 26 (1956): 722, as quoted in

"Physiological Effects of Spices and Condiments," (Loma

Linda, CA: Department of Nutrition, School of Health, Loma

Linda University [mimeographed]). White, Counsels on Diet

and Foods, pp. 339-345.

29.Condiments and spices can also produce inflammation of

the esophagus and destroy the mucous barrier of the small

intestine and colon. They irritate the kidneys and may

contribute to hypertension. Some contain carcinogens. See

Kenneth I. Burke and Ann Burke, "How Nice Is Spice?"

Adventist Review, Jan. 8, 1987, pp. 14,15; Department of

Nutrition, "Spices and Condiments"; Marjorie V. Baldwin and

Bernell E. Baldwin, "Spices--Recipe for Trouble," Wildwood

Echoes, Winter 1978-79, pp. 8-11.

30.William G. Johnsson, "On Behalf of Simplicity,"

Adventist Review, March 20, 1986, p. 4.

31.The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 417.

32.See Year-End Meeting Actions of the North American

Division of Seventh-day Adventists (1986), pp. 23-25.

33.The use of cosmetics is not totally harmless. Some of

the chemicals used in their preparation can enter the blood

circulation through absorption by the skin and, depending on

the chemical and the sensitivity of the person, may injure

the health. See N. Shafer, R.W. Shafer, "Potential

Carcinogenic Effect of Hair Dyes," New York State Journal of

Medicine, March 1976, pp. 394-396; Sammuel J. Taub,

"Cosmetic Allergies: What Goes on Under Your Makeup," Eye,

Ears, Nose, and Throat, April 1976, pp. 131,132; S.J. Taub,

"Contaminated Cosmetics and Cause of Eye Infections," Eye,

Ear, Nose, and Throat, Feb. 1975. pp. 81,82; Cf. White,

"Words to Christian Mothers," Review and Herald, Oct. 17,

1871.

34.White, The Desire of Ages, p. 668.