Eating food that has been offered to idols

So I was surprised to read on these forums that Catholic do profess that eating food offered to idols is wrong.

I used to read this one Evangelical Protestant (like crazy, crazy, crazy Protestant) blog and he said the same thing quoting the one Bible verse and everything. He also said that eating any food in a restaurant that has idols in it is automatically eating polluted food. Is the Catholic view on this the same?

For example an Indian restaurant that has a painting or statue of a Hindu god for decoration. Is it true we may not eat there, or would that just be that particular Protestant’s opinion?

Honestly that answer seemed odd to me (and I didn’t see the apologist quote any official teaching). It seems the concern about meat sacrificed to idols is that one ought to refrain from being seen as participating in idolatrous religious ceremonies. As Paul says we ascribe no power to these idols so it’s not as if we’re taking in any spiritual danger simply by consumption. Realistically, no one in their right mind would believe that eating in a restaurant with pagan decorations was worshiping or even endorsing those idols. So yes, it’s just your guy’ personal opinion, and a bit of a superstitious one at that.

And many Chinese restaurants have a statue of Buddha with a small altar around him nearby with candles or other offerings. Suppose the cook does offer up prayers and blesses his cuisine in the name of a Hindhu god? Then what?

In the Bible, Paul talks about this in : 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 10:19-33 . And the commentary or explanation of the Catholic Church regarding these chapters is the following:

[1 Corinthians 10:25–30] A summary of specific situations in which the eating of meat sacrificed to idols could present problems of conscience. Three cases are considered. In the first (the marketplace, 1 Cor 10:25–26) and the second (at table, 1 Cor 10:27), there is no need to be concerned with whether food has passed through a pagan sacrifice or not, for the principle of 1 Cor 8:4–6 still stands, and the whole creation belongs to the one God. But in the third case (1 Cor 10:28), the situation changes if someone present explicitly raises the question of the sacrificial origin of the food; eating in such circumstances may be subject to various interpretations, some of which could be harmful to individuals. Paul is at pains to insist that the enlightened Christian conscience need not change its judgment about the neutrality, even the goodness, of the food in itself (1 Cor 10:29–30); yet the total situation is altered to the extent that others are potentially endangered, and this calls for a different response, for the sake of others.


If you ask me, I’d rather slap some sense into people who refuse to eat in places just because they see some religious icon that’s not of their own. That’s a greater service to them than starving myself.

Only few things get between me and a pork tonkatsu and live.

In other words, it is not wrong to eat food offered to idols as long as you have no idea about it. Who knows if that chicken you buy at Walmart was offered to an idol? :shrug: If you do know it has been offered to idols, you should not eat it, it is wrong as you are eating it consciously (knowing) that it has been offered to an idol.

Apart from that, you can eat Kosher and Halal food, because the food has been offered to God (and not an idol, Jews and Muslims believe in the same God as we).

Paul covers this and other “disputable matters” in detail in Romans 14.

There was a dispute in the Roman church. Meat that had been used in offerings to Venus or Zeus or whatever was cheap, having already served its purpose, and still fresh. Some in the church saw no harm in eating it, others thought it wrong and unclean, and they were arguing about who is the better Christian.

Paul knocks their heads together. He says personally he sees no harm in eating but each must act according to their own conscience and lets others do the same. He ends with:

*Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.*

And in more detail in 1 Corinthians 8-9

Thank you. I need to read a sensible post now and then… :thumbsup:

An idol in the restaurant is never a good way to deduce that food has been sacrificed.

"[The holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes and teaches that every creature of God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because according to the word of the Lord not what goes into the mouth defiles a person, and because the difference in the Mosaic law between clean and unclean foods belongs to ceremonial practices, which have passed away and lost their efficacy with the coming of the gospel.

"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.”

(Ecumenical Council of Florence, Session 11, 4 February 1442, Paragraph spacing added)

Any Catholic who professes that eating food which has been sacrificed is wrong, is in error.


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