Defilement & Harm

Bruce Michael

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Hi All,

"Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man;
but that which cometh out of the mouth." (Matt 15)
Is there a difference between harm and defilement? Ronald L. Dart has a go at answering this one-

"Jesus' disciples were being criticized for eating without first washing their hands (Mark 7:5). Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their arbitrary administration of the law. Drawing a sharp distinction between the tradition of the elders on the one hand, and the commandment of God on the other, Jesus accused them of invalidating the word of God by their tradition.

"Notice that Jesus firmly supports the law. Having made that point, He offers an answer to the question of eating with unwashed hands: "There is nothing without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man" (Mark 7:15).

"That is a mighty comprehensive statement. Plainly, dirt on your hands that gets on your food will not defile you. But what about those foods prohibited by the law? What about a ham sandwich? Jesus said nothing will defile you. What about cockroaches and snakes? Jesus said nothing will defile you. Well, what about a dish of poisonous mushrooms or tainted shellfish! Jesus said nothing from without a man entering into him can defile him. So even though you might be dead in a few hours, at least you would not be defiled. Jesus is not saying that you will not be harmed, only that you will not be defiled.

"There are several important things to notice about this verse. First, Jesus is speaking in the present tense and is talking about the way things are. He is not offering new legislation or abrogating the old. The statement was true when Leviticus was written and it is true today. The dietary laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are laws of health and cleanliness, not laws of spiritual holiness. Eating unclean meats will not defile you spiritually, but it can harm you physically. These laws were given to protect health and are not annulled."​

In this particular Bible verse (Matthew 15) Jesus is emphasizing that it is our willed actions that defile us, not what we stuff in our mouth.

I guess gluttony is a willed action that defiles us- causes karmic repercussions. So in that sense if you put a lot in your mouth it defiles you. Which only goes to prove that for every truth there is an equally valid opposing truth.

In the case of intoxicants, we are no longer responsible for our willed actions- the ego is no longer in charge. I think we would have to be some kind of special individual not to be affected by intoxicants. It is so much easier to fall into sin whilst intoxicated, so again these must be aids to "defilement".

So there is an obvious distinction between what will "defile" you and what will harm you.

Br. Bruce