In one of Ellen G White's comments in KJV Bible on Galatians 2 she concurred with the elders in Jerusalem that the Gentiles are free from the obligations of the ceremonial law

But the three leading apostles, against whom no such prejudice existed, having themselves been won to the true position, brought the matter before the council, and won from all a concurrence in the decision to leave the Gentiles free from the obligations of the ceremonial law.

(Sketches from the life of Paul, 192-193)-6BC 1108,4)

According to the book of Leviticus animals food mentioned in the text rendered one ceremonially unclean when consumed or touched. It stands to reason that food was classified under the ceremonial law which E G White concurred that Gentiles were not obliged to keep or observe

Leviticus 11:4 NIV

The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. 6 The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. 7 And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

The book of Hebrews further reiterate that food and drink were ceremonial laws until the time of reformation(new order)

Hebrews 9:8 NIV

The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order

Having said that why then do the SDA still maintain that this prohibition concerning these foods is still binding?

  • I’m a little confused about what you are asking - can you please clarify if you want to know if the SDA church used to teach that you can’t eat pork and now you can?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 13:49

4 Answers 4


The principal argument made by Seventh Day Adventists for their prohibition on eating pork and other "unclean" foods is that while the moral and ceremonial requirement to abstain from them has been removed, "unclean" foods would not have been prohibited by God unless they were in some way fundamentally bad for us. Therefore as a matter of health they abstain from all the foods listed in Leviticus.

Some also believe that some of the passages such as Mark 7 are not in fact removing the distinction between clean and unclean foods.

References: 1 2

  • 1
    Please don't use comments to argue with this. I'm only telling you what the Adventists believe. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 14:53
  • Mark 7:19 (Thus he declared all foods clean) is not universally attested in manuscript. What about Acts 10? Is this a passage "such as" Mark 7? Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 15:17
  • As an aside, are those in SDA who actually do abstain from those foods demonstrably healthier? Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 15:17
  • 1
    @MikeBorden. The traditional SDA diet matches well with today's concept of healthy food, and SDA's have been well involved with the production and promotion of "healthy" products, such as: — Corn Flakes was invented by Kellogg, a vegetarian and prominent member of the Church, who promoted whole grain cereals. — Nuteena (based on Kellogg's Nuttose (vegetarian meat substitute)) is produced by Loma Linda Foods (owned by the Church). — Weet-Bix (Weetabix) is produced by Sanitarium Health Food Company (owned by the Church). — Marmite is produced by Sanitarium Health Food Company. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 17:02
  • @RayButterworth That's fascinating. I had no idea any church owned international food manufacturing companies but it still leaves me wondering...are they demonstrably healthier than the population who eat "unclean" foods? Or as healthy as, say, Orthodox Jews? Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 19:26

The conclusion, "It stands to reason that food was classified under the ceremonial law", isn't reason, it's illogic.

A pile of rotting garbage is unfit for use in Hindu ceremonies. Christians are not obliged to observe Hindu ceremonies. Therefore it is okay for Christians to eat a pile of rotting garbage.

Just because something isn't fit for ceremonial use doesn't mean that it is fit for eating in other circumstances.

The statement "it is ceremonially unclean", is a blatant mistranslation of Leviticus 11:4. Almost every other translation says "it is unclean".

The original Hebrew itself simply says "it is unclean", with no mention of anything like "ceremonially".

(That addition must be the result of wishful thinking on the part of NIV translators that like their bacon.)

Hebrews 9:8 talks about the use of food in ceremonies, and how those ceremonies served as a prophetic symbol of Christ's sacrifice and so are no longer required.

But again that a ceremony is no longer required has nothing to do with the fact that some meat is intrinsically fit to eat and some isn't.

"why then do the SDA still maintain that this prohibition concerning these foods is still binding?"

Obviously because there is no reason to believe otherwise.

  • Do you have references to show that this is what SDA's actually believe? Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 1:50
  • @DJClayworth, I'm disputing the basis of the Question itself, the claim that being fit to eat is only a ceremonial definition. Compare with "Given Peter's use of the sword, it stands to reason that he used to be a Gladiator, so why do Catholics believe that he was worthy enough to lead the Church?". Yes, Catholics believe he was, and some denominations don't believe he was given that authority, but the question itself really isn't about Catholic beliefs. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 3:21
  • Sounds argumentative to me. The belief you are arguing against is the belief of most Christians, and the question is why the SDA believe differently. You showing why you believe most Christians are wrong does not explain the SDA reasons. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 4:16
  • @DJClayworth, I'm saying that the Question itself is wrong. It's based on "It stands to reason that …", which is an unsubstantiated claim. Had the Question begun with scriptural and doctrinal support for that claim, then it would instead be asking why SDAs deny this evidence, and would be a much better question. The claim though seems to be based almost entirely on the NIV's inappropriate addition of "ceremonially to their translation of the scripture, so it is equivalent to why do the SDA's disagree with my conjecture?. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 14:13
  • 1
    @Mike Borden...you do know Acts 10 is not about clean and unclean food right? This is not s passage of scripture that supports eating pork! It's talking about ministering the gospel to people other than Jews. Remember Peter was a Jew. Read Acts 10:28&34-35
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 21:18

Historically, the SDA denomination started as an end-of-days religious movement, predicting that Jesus would return on one date - which came and passed - and then another date - which came and passed. Searching for an explanation as to why Jesus hadn't returned as predicted, one explanation was that they weren't holy enough and they needed to abstain from things like alcohol and pork.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Disappointment https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millerism#Post-Great_Disappointment_Millerism

  • Sorry but this answer makes it appears that SDAs are millerites. We are most definately not millerites any more than Baptist's, Baha'i, Jehovah's witnesses, or Mormons are. There are significant doctrinal and practical differences between SDA and millerites.
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 21:07
  • Also, the return of Jesus has nothing to do with the holiness of the people of the earth. The book of revelation disagrees with that claim. It in fact states the complete opposite. Jesus will come when the gospel has been preached to all the earth...that is what SDAs , like all evangelicals as far as I am aware, believe.
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 21:24
  • @Adam Historically the Seventh Day Adventists sprung up out of the Millerites after the Great Disappointment. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventh-day_Adventist_Church. Their doctrines have to evolved to account for the failings of Millerism, but that is nevertheless their foundation Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 22:23
  • @ Ryan Pierce Williams as i said before, SDA's are no more millerite than JW's, Bahai, Mormons, or Baptists. All of these movements have roots in the millerite great dissapointment. You are trying to make a link that essentially may as well say, we are all Catholics! SDA's have significant doctrinal differences to millerites...i would urge you to actually study the fundamental beliefs of both movements and appreciate those essential differences. Really, the only common ground is the second advent (which is hardly unique to SDA or Millerite. It is also shared by JW's, Baptists etc)
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 7:35
  • @Adam We are talking about established historical fact here. You can disagree with Millerism and hate the fact that SDA derived from it, but you can't change it. Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 16:41

The distinction between clean and unclean existed from before the flood which is at least 1000 years prior to Moses. We find in Genesis:

Gen 7:2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

It should be noted that God does not define what is a clean beast and what is unclean here. He simply states it as a known fact. This clearly shows that Noah knew which animals were clean and which were unclean. Further:

Gen 8:20 And Noah built an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Only clean animals were offered as sacrifices. And God accepts only clean animals. Abel, the son of Adam offered sacrifice. So, if only clean animals can be offered, then the distinction between clean and unclean should have existed from the time of Abel, at the least, if not from Adam.

Thus, as Ray Butterworth has beautifully brought out, clean and unclean animals were not a part of the ceremonial laws. It preexisted the ceremonial laws just like the Sabbath (from Genesis 2) and the Tithe(first mentioned as offered by Abraham). The reason for the command to not consume these animals was given in Leviticus and because the Israelites had forgotten a lot of the values their fathers held due to the Egyptian slavery, God reiterated them here.

That said, the ceremonial laws contained certain foods and drinks:

  1. During the feast of unleavened bread - only unleavened bread can be consumed
  2. Feast of Passover involved eating the Passover lamb
  3. Feast of Pentecost involved waving the wheat harvested before the Lord (food again)
  4. The day of atonement involved fasting and afflicting the soul for the sins committed.

Thus, although the distinction between the clean and unclean was not a part of ceremonial law and preexisted it and is still in effect, there are some ceremonial laws concerning foods and drinks which passed away at the cross. This is because Christ has entered into the real tabernacle in Heaven to minister in the heavenly sanctuary.

Heb 8:1,2 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

The whole book of Hebrews is an exposition of the Heavenly Sanctuary. Thus the ceremonies of the earthly sanctuary which were to be repeated every year were abolished.

P.S.: It is interesting to note that although the council at Jerusalem decided that the Gentiles should not be forced to undergo circumcision or follow ceremonial laws, they were given 4 specific commands to follow:

Acts 15:29 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.

They were to abstain from:

  1. Meats offered to idols
  2. Eating blood
  3. Eating things strangled
  4. Fornication

You see, three out of the four dealt with food. This shows that the early Christians treated food as an important part of their religion.

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