Cannibalism, by and large, is a bad thing. It’s going to mess up somebody’s day, and is disturbing, to say the least. I’m going to take a stand: It’s wrong to eat people. I shuddered when I watched “Silence of the Lambs,” and it blows my mind today when I read or hear news stories about modern, real-life cannibals. Jeffrey Dahmer and “the Red Ripper” leave me speechless. You’ve got to be kidding me! What can a person say about such things?
Cannibalism in the Bible is always a sad and heart-wrenching event. It is a sign of despair and punishment from the Lord. He warned Israel in Deuteronomy 28:53 that if they did not follow Him, their enemy would overrun them, “And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you.” Several hundred years later, in Jeremiah 19, the Lord warned again, “Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will make this city a horror, a thing to be hissed at. Everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss because of all its wounds. And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his neighbor in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.” Can anything be worse than killing and eating your own children?
But aren’t we cannibals today? Even among Christians, even in our churches? We eat one another for lunch and we eat one another alive. We bite and devour and consume one another (Galatians 5:15) when we gossip and slander. Who doesn’t know the sting of “getting chewed out” at work, or by a church brother or sister? We are always quick with last words, snarky remarks, proving our points, assuming and expecting the worst of others. We trample on others and “eat our own,” in our families, workplaces, churches, and social media. Isn’t this “cannibalism?” People are made in God’s image, with inherent dignity, value, and worth. They are not to be eaten.
How should we live with one another? Rather than eat others, literally or metaphorically, “We who are God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, should put on compassionate hearts, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. We bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these qualities, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:12-17).” That would go a lot further. Love your neighbor, don’t eat him.