A recent headline on the BBC news site (from 29.August.2018) read, “Scallop war: French and British boats clash in Channel.” Two things may come to mind when reading this. First, what are scallops? And second, why does this matter?
Scallops are a type of clam, and many claim they are delicious and healthy. (Personally, I don’t see how the delicious and healthy claim can be true.)
Does this matter? Well, yes, on a couple different levels.
The French basically chased the Brits out of a prime scallop fishing ground, claiming that the Brits were decimating the scallop fields. Such economic crises have started wars. But that is not my point.
Legally, the Brits weren’t doing anything wrong. Not according to agreements between France and Britain that pertained to scallop harvesting. Yet the French were upset, likely due to their decreasing harvests. So, does the Bible give us, as followers of Yeshua (Jesus), any guidance about how to deal with this situation?
Actually, yes, God does have some instruction.
In the later chapters of the book of Deuteronomy we find this injunction:
“You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark” Deuteronomy 19:14 (ESV).
This may not be a case of moving a physical boundary, but the issue was over when in time that the Brits would be allowed to harvest. A time boundary.
Yes, God wants us to respect our neighbor’s possessions. The 10 statements (10 commandments) also covers this: ‘Do not covet’. And the well known injunction, ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ also covers this.
Another response from followers of Yeshua (Jesus) should be one of, “Yuch! Who wants to eat scallops!”. Okay, so that is a bit exaggerated, but God does tell us to only eat things from the seas that have fins and scales. Scallops have neither, so should be left alone to do the job in the sea that God created them to do.
Inevitably, when the topic of restricting what one eats comes up, people will point to Peter’s vision (in the book of Acts, chapter 10) and say, “see, we can eat whatever we want.”
Two quick comments about that. First, note that this vision occurred years after Yeshua (Jesus) was raised from the dead. If Yeshua had called all things clean during his ministry, and this vision was restating that point, then I find it interesting that those words of Yeshua had been completely missed by Peter (and the rest of the apostles) for years. If this is something new that God is telling us through Peter, I’m a bit skeptical for I don’t see God giving commands through one person’s visions anywhere else in the Bible. (One person’s visions dictating doctrine reminds me of how both Mormonism and Islam started). If I’m wrong, let me know. Doesn’t mean He can’t; just that I’m skeptical about it. And besides, neither Peter nor the Jerusalem church’s elders thought the vision pertained to food (read further in the book of Acts).
So, though God gave ‘all things for food’, we are called to walk in a holy manner (set apart manner). Let them eat their scallops. We won’t. And if it comes to a labor dispute, before joining in, remember that God does not want us to “move our neighbor’s boundary” or covet anything of our neighbors. This doesn’t apply just to physical things.
Be holy as He is holy.