#1 Can Presbyterians Eat Meat During Lent?

Lent is a season of sacrifice that recognizes the 40 days leading up to Easter as a period of remembrance for the life, death, and resurrection of the Christian prophet, Jesus Christ. Being that the purpose is to sacrifice in a form that replicates what Jesus gave up to withdrawal into the desert for 40 days, many people will give up a food-oriented item for their lent sacrifice, while others will not.

PresbyterianMission.org promotes ‘treading lightly for Lent:’

“Have a “Meatless Monday” today. Eating less meat can improve your health and the earth’s.”

Many churches will mark the festivities of lent with fasting from all food, while others may give up an individual item or food-group, such as meat.

Figure 1 – Learn Religions – Do Christians Observe Fasting for Lent?

Fasting is not a modern concept, with mention of it in the Bible on multiple occasions, including Mark 2:18:

“Now, John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?

Related Scripture(s):

  • “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. (3)The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” – Matthew 4:2-3.

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#2 Can Presbyterians Eat Meat on Ash Wednesday?

Although many Christian religions believing in fasting for Lent (with Catholics citing Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as obligatory fasting days), there is no official mention of Presbyterian governance regarding whether or not to consume or avoid meat on Ash Wednesday.

As a lent is a season of contrition that is held very highly within the Presbyterian denomination, a vegetarian or ‘clean’ diet on these holy days is not unheard of.

Fasting is an individual discipline left up to the individual or Church to dictate what is required of followers.

The Church may encourage a ‘meatless Ash Wednesday,’ but it is up to each person’s judgment to participate.

Some may consider it self-denial and a private matter, unrelated to Church.

Figure 2 – PresbyterianMission.org

Ash Wednesday will shift in date each year, due to its dependency on when Easter falls. Occurring six and a half weeks prior to Easter, the earliest it has fallen is February 4th, while the latest it can be is February 26th.

Related Scripture(s):

  • “By the sweat of your brow
        you will eat your food
    until you return to the ground,
        since from it you were taken;
    for dust you are
        and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:19

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#3 Can Presbyterians Eat Meat on Good Friday?

It is not required by law or regulation that any Presbyterian church member give up meat through lent, Ash Wednesday, nor Good Friday. This decision is left up to the individual’s preferences and jurisdiction. Good Friday is more commonly seen as a day for fasting than all of the Lenten season.

The season of Lent, ending three days before Easter Sunday, will lead into a holy week, which is followed by Good Friday. Christians may give up whatever item they find meaningful and convincing. The purpose of this sacrifice is to martyr oneself just as Christ did and also to immerse oneself in the human experience of Christ.

Catholics are known to avoid meat and fish on Fridays, but not most other Christian denominations.

One of the most common Lenten sacrifices is to fast from a particular food item, but this does not have to be meat or meat-products.  

PresbyterianMission.org writes of the simple sacrifice of giving up chocolate:

“The practice is not learning how to give up chocolate.

Instead, giving up chocolate can help us practice channeling our energy and actions toward and for God.

Figure 3 – Good Friday Traditions from Around the World *No mention of meat

Related Scripture(s):

  • “Even now,” declares the Lord,
        “return to me with all your heart,
        with fasting and weeping and mourning.” – Joel 2:12

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#4 Can Presbyterians Eat Meat?

While there is no public regulation against Presbyterians consuming meat, it is discouraged by the Church. A Presbyterian church leader would likely advise a church member to abstain from meat consumption altogether, or only consume minimally-processed cuts or breeds deemed as ‘clean,’ by the Bible.

Addressing the trend of obesity and identifying meat as part of the ‘epidemic,’ Presbyterian’s write on their Official United States Website:

What specific characteristics of the food supply are producing this? “The data, which is overwhelming, Dietz said, indicates overconsumption” of processed meats (such as fast food burgers and sandwiches), sugared drinks, solid/saturated fats (such as potato chips and French fries), sodium and added sugars (primarily sweetened cereals).”

Figure 4 – Myths About Myths About Vegetarianism

Related Scripture(s):

  • “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” – Genesis 9:3
  • “You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.” – Leviticus 11:3

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#5 Can Presbyterians Drink Alcohol?

Yes, most Presbyterians do not oppose drinking alcohol, only consuming it in a gluttonous state of over-indulgence, which would lead to drunkenness. Seen as a gateway to tempting behavior, alcohol is a substance which one should be wary of but not altogether fear.

Despite the fact that most Presbyterians drink, there have been publicly released statements from the Presbyterian Church encouraging abstention ‘in all situations,’ citing that abstention should be ‘supported.’

According to PewResearch.org pertaining to the drinking habits of various faiths:

  • Two-thirds, (66%) of white mainline Protestants say they’ve consumed alcohol in the last month
  • Roughly half, (48%) of black Protestants say they’ve consumed alcohol in the last month
  • The minority, (45%) of white evangelical Protestants say they’ve consumed alcohol in the last month

With even more drinking throughout the year rather than in the past month, it is likely that a much larger percentage have consumed alcohol on special occasions.

Related Scripture(s)/Resource(s):

The following general principles should guide…personal and corporate choices about the use of alcohol:

  • Abstention in all situations should be supported and encouraged.
  • Moderate drinking in low-risk situations should not be opposed.
  • Heavy drinking in any situation should be vigorously discouraged.
  • Any drinking in high-risk situations (e.g., during pregnancy or before driving an automobile) should be vigorously discouraged, as should all illegal drinking.
  • “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” – Ecclesiastes 9:7.
  • “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” – Proverbs 20:1

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#6 Can Presbyterians Take Catholic Communion?

Few Christian denominations find communion to be as spiritual and symbolic as that of the Catholic faith.

While some Presbyterians do not participate in communion, most do.

However, they would likely not believe in the miracle of transubstantiation (the belief that the bread and wine of communion turn into the actual body and blood of Christ), and they would also not conduct communion with non-Presbyterians, (despite both Presbyterians and Catholics being baptized in the house of ‘the one true God).’

Presbyterian allows a great deal of autonomy to churches and individuals, allowing those to practice communion as often or little as they see fit and incorporating personal interpretation of God’s word. While some resources cite that communion is only practiced by Presbyterians in life-or-death emergencies, other sources deem it a common ritual.

Proving that officially, Presbyterians DO participate in communion, PresbyterianMission.org writes:

“It is the Lord’s feast, hosted by the One who promises an ultimate continuous feast in the Kingdom of God. Under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit the divine host is made present so that a bond of unity can exist among those present and those unseen.”

“The bread may be broken from that on the Table and placed in the people’s hands; people may break off a portion from the broken loaf or other bread offered for distribution; or they may receive pieces of bread prepared for distribution. A common cup may be offered to all who wish to partake of it; several cups may be offered and shared; or individual cups may be prepared for distribution. Rather than drink from a common cup, communicants may dip the broken bread into the cup.”

John Calvin supported frequent (even weekly) communions, and it was practiced in the early days of the religion, dating back to the 1500s.

Those that say Presbyterians Do Not Participate:

“Protestants are currently allowed to receive Catholic communion only in extreme circumstances, such as when they are in danger of death.”

This could be referencing the ‘Catholic’ communion specifically, signifying that each denomination prefers to keep their communion ceremonies private to their religion’s members only, not inviting outsiders.

Why is There So Much Disagreement About Communion? Christianity.com

Related Scripture(s):

  • “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, (24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (25) In the same way, after supper, he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (26) or whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

Related Video(s):

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