I don't normally argue with evangelists any more, but there's a group that works the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica for whom I will occasionally make an exception. These people are really a piece of work. They cart in an entire audio-visual setup: big-screen projection TV, laptop PC running Power Point, video cameras, microphones, and a PA system. They set up one microphone for the audience to ask questions. The result is usually a pretty good show, and they always gather a crowd. They are so obnoxious that even Christians will stop to argue with them, which doesn't seem to faze them at all.
A few weeks ago one of them was preaching about moral relativism: if we don't have an authoritative source of revealed morality, how do we decide what is right and wrong? (Never mind that there's actually a Biblical answer to this: we know Right from Wrong because Eve ate from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But I digress.) Imagine you meet up with a cannibal who wants to eat you. Is that OK? He thinks it is. Who are you to dispute him?
That was an opening I couldnt' resist. I stepped up to the microphone and asked, "Is it OK to eat someone who has died of natural causes? And if not, where in the Bible does it say that?"
The guy didn't miss a beat. (He never does. He's very, very good.) "No, it's not OK. There's a story in Isaiah about some women who are in a besieged city who conspire to murder and eat their sons, and God clearly condemns this action."
"But wait," I responded, "that's not on point at all. Obviously if they have to kill their sons before they can eat them that's wrong because murder is wrong. But that wasn't my question. I asked about eating someone who has died of natural causes."
He sputtered for a moment, said something along the lines of, "It's in there somewhere -- go look for it," and shut the microphone off. (I always count that as a victory.)
Not being the sort to shirk a homework assignment I decided to try to find the story the guy was referring to. So I finally got myself an on-line copy of the Bible (can you believe it's taken me this long?) and started grepping (that's searching for you non-computer-geeks out there) for the word "flesh." I wasn't able to find the story the guy was referring to (I suspect he was blowing smoke, though he does know his Bible pretty well). But I did find this:
Jer19:9 And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.
That's God speaking. Is it possible that God did not actually follow through on this threat? No. If he did not follow through then God will have spoken falsely. One can quibble over whether or not an omnipotent God is theoretically capable of lying, but it doesn't matter. If he actually did lie then that undermines the entire foundation of fundamentalist Christianity, which is that the Bible is True irrespective of the abstract theoretical issue. So because God said that he would "cause [people] to eat the flesh of their sons" we have no choice but to conclude that He actually did it. So it is not possible that Cannibalism is a sin, because God, being perfectly good, would never force anyone to sin. Such a thing would clearly be abhorrent to His nature.
So the Bible is clear: cannibalism is unambiguously not a sin.
It's actually much worse than that. Not only is cannibalism not a sin, it is in fact endorsed (and inflicted!) by God Himself as a punishment for sin! (The people who are being forced by God to chow down on their children are sinners, of course.) According to the Bible, cannibalism is a Good Thing! It's unpleasant to be sure, but it's for your own good (kind of like stoning).
Can't wait to hear what the Third Street gang has to say about this.