“For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats” (Romans 14:2-3).
I hear this passage cited a lot as justification for withholding mercy toward animals. It amazes me how few people read the chapter to the end. Paul concludes his discourse on meat consumption (which, by the way, is actually a discussion about idolatry and eating food that had been sacrificed to idols) by saying, “It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.” Those who try to use this passage to justify their animal abuse are ignoring the fact that Paul said by doing so “you are no longer acting in love” (Romans 14:15) and therefore you should not only stop justifying your actions but also stop eating meat altogether! So while people often point to this chapter of Romans, believing it is their license to hurt animals, it is actually yet another exhortation to STOP hurting animals. For a deeper explanation of why it’s important to follow Paul’s advice to stop eating meat for the sake of the gospel, read Permission and Going the Extra Mile.