Abstinence from things strangled?


I found that I was considering the first church council mentioned in Acts 15. They describe that the gentiles needn't observe the 613 mitzvot, but that they abstain from idolatry, fornication and things strangled. I think that idolatry and fornication are self-explanatory, but what about things strangled? I found myself puzzled as to what this means, it isn't really discussed at all in other parts of the New Testament, yet it's important enough to be considered one of the only 3 carry-overs from the Old Testament.

I guess how I found myself recently considering this imperative... does this mean I shouldn't eat chickens? I remember that my Granny was once a professional chicken neck-wringer.


IIRC, strangled flesh is meat that had been sacrificed to an idol. If that is correct, the prohibition would have been from the appearance of idol worship (eating meat from a pagan temple was considered by the pagans to be worship of that particular deity.

Possibly, the prohibition could have been connected to the one against blood, since a strangled animal would still have blood in its veins.

Both food-related prohibitions were disciplinary/cultural only and have since been lifted.


A neck-wrung chicken dies of neck fracture, not strangulation, so this would be OK.

In any case, AIUI, chickens are now dispatched by electric shock.



Some directives the Church gives us are conditioned by the era or time. For example, what precise rules govern marriage have changed with time. The meat from a strangled animal was to help keep things smooth in the early Church since it was a mixed crowd of Jewish and Gentile. It was worth it to help others not stumble over the point. This restriction is no longer needed, since we are nearly all Gentile now.

(In the USA) You can buy poultry that has been slain in a Kosher manner, if you desire, but that is not needed. Empire brand is decent. Remember though, Kosher poultry will already have salt on it, so don’t salt it.


I was in a discussion about this a few years ago with a protestant…more in regards to eating blood (ie. blood pudding etc.) I don’t have the ability to look it up right now, but I seem to remember something about the Council of Florence stating definitively that these restrictions had been lifted by the Church.


Found it,

It also declares that the apostolic prohibition, to abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled, was suited to that time when a single church was rising from Jews and gentiles, who previously lived with different ceremonies and customs. This was so that the gentiles should have some observances in common with Jews, and occasion would be offered of coming together in one worship and faith of God and a cause of dissension might be removed, since by ancient custom blood and strangled things seemed abominable to Jews, and gentiles could be thought to be returning to idolatry if they ate sacrificial food. In places, however, where the Christian religion has been promulgated to such an extent that no Jew is to be met with and all have joined the church, uniformly practising the same rites and ceremonies of the gospel and believing that to the clean all things are clean, since the cause of that apostolic prohibition has ceased, so its effect has ceased. It condemns, then, no kind of food that human society accepts and nobody at all neither man nor woman, should make a distinction between animals, no matter how they died; although for the health of the body, for the practice of virtue or for the sake of regular and ecclesiastical discipline many things that are not proscribed can and should be omitted, as the apostle says all things are lawful, but not all are helpful.”

ewtn.com/library/councils/florence.htm Session 11


St.Paul advised to use prudence:

See 1cor 8:

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.


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