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While reading "Robertsoner Ruby", one of the Bengali detective stories from the Feluda Series, I found out that the investigator there finds out a character to be a Christian (which the character himself never disclosed till that point) when he observes that the character is consuming food using his left hand on three separate occasions. Now, this observation turns out to be correct too and eventually it also proves decisive in solving the case.

But I was surprised the way the detective has concluded and hence this question here.

  • Is it really true that in Christianity food is recommended to be consumed using the left hand?

Please cite some verses from scriptures in support of your answers, either to prove or disprove the claim.

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  • You're almost certainly misreading the story - the logic is not that Christianity recommends the left hand for eating, but that it doesn't recommend any hand, and so anyone using the left hand can't be part of the dominant culture.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 8:58
  • No in the story the detective clearly states that that is how he came to know that the character was a Christian and which is what surprised me. If there is some verse saying "You can use any one of the hands.." Or "You should only use the right hand .." then that does the job here. @curiousdannii
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 9:01
  • Can you link to the story or quote it some more? And there are no such verses because it's just not something that was relevant to Israelite, Jewish, Greek or Roman culture.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 9:04
  • Well I have read it in Bengali the language in which it was written. I don't know where to find it in English. @curiousdannii Ok let me then wait to see if someone else can come up with a convincing answer.
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 9:06
  • The detective is assuming he is a Christian because he can rule out a Hindu or Moslem because those cultures have an ingrained left hand taboo. Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 12:05

2 Answers 2

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There are no rules in Christianity about which hand you eat with. As NigelJ writes, Christianity does not consider how you eat to be important (see Matthew 15). Such rules as there were under Judaism were abolished in Christianity (and those Jewish rules did not prohibit eating with any hand).

So, given this, allow me to explain the story you read.

While there are no rules about which hand to eat with in Christianity, there is a prohibition on eating with the left hand in Islam, and I believe in Hinduism, which are the majority religions in India. So if the character had been Hindu or Muslim he would not have eaten with his left hand. Since he did, the detective deduced he is not Hindu or Muslim, in which case it's a fair bet that he is Christian, which is the third place religion. (Statistically speaking there are other alternatives, but that doesn't make for a good detective story).

So the deduction wasn't about rules in Christianity, but about Hindu and Islamic rules.

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  • Yes your observation regarding how the detective arrived at his conclusion seems accurate.Thanks for the answer.
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 14:53
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    A small quibble: rather than saying "such rules as there were under Judaism were abolished in Chrisitianity...", it would be more correct to say, that such rules were not enjoined upon Gentile Christians. NT teaching specifically leaves it open to believers that following such rules is now a matter of conscience rather than of any salvific necessity, but that is a far cry from them being "abolished". Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 16:09
  • @bruisedreed I understand your quibble, but the difference has no effect whatsoever on the answer to this question. Many would say that if the rule is no longer a rule, then it has been abolished, even if some choose to follow it. Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 19:25
  • When Jesus 'broke' the bread, He must have used both hands . Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 15:45
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And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

[Matthew 15: 16-18 KJV translation.]

Jesus himself made it very clear in the above passage that how men eat (the manner of how they eat it - see the whole context of the passage in Matthew 15) does not make them clean or unclean.

What comes out of men's mouths is that which defiles them, if the heart is not clean.

Nor is there any proscription in the New Testament writings about the manner of eating, as such.

There is the forbidding of meats offered to idols and there is the forbidding of consuming blood and the forbidding of eating anything that has been strangled.

That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. Acts 15:29 KJV.

These prohibitions are all to do with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who offered himself up to God on behalf of others. Those who spiritually (in faith) partake of that sacrifice do not compromise their faith by denying its veracity in the performance of practices which are contrary to that faith.

Eating is always a matter of sacrifice. We eat living things - both animals and vegetation. We do not eat rocks and sand and earth.

Something must die, that we may eat. And there is profound truth to be experienced every time we have a meal.

So we are instructed by the apostles that there are certain things not to be eaten. That we may understand how the sacrifice of Christ is communicated, spiritually, to humanity.

But nowhere in scripture is there any mention of what hand to eat with.

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    Thanks for your answer too but I can select only one.
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 14:53
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    Yes I know that and I have upvoted both the answers here. @disciple
    – Rickross
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 5:49
  • I have two Hindu friends who eat with left hand, since they are too left-handed to eat with the right (I mean, sidewise) one. On the other hand, all my Indian Christian relatives and friends eat with the right hand. Apparently, the taboo on eating with the left hand came about beacause of the tradition of one's cleaning onself after the toilt. A traditional Indian does not use the tissue paper, but instead uses water and his left hand to clean himself after the call of nature. Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 14:05
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    @KadalikattJosephSibichan I am aware of cultures which maintain a 'clean' hand and a 'dirty' hand. And I am also aware of people who try to offer me the 'dirty' hand to shake hands with. And I say to them 'Clean hand, please' :)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 28, 2018 at 14:27

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