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--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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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).
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.
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
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,"
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,
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
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.
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,
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,
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
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
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
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'"
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
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,
34.White, The Desire of Ages, p. 668.