That Dirty Pig!

ALTHOUGH much has been written about the pig and the reasons why it is classed as an unclean animal particularly abhorred by the Lord, I verily believe that the last word has not yet been scribed on the subject. Although I have lived for thirty years among the primitive people of New Guinea, I still find it a source of wonder as to why these people cling so tenaciously to this degrading quadruped. . .

-Lagaip District Director, New Guinea, at the time this article was written

ALTHOUGH much has been written about the pig and the reasons why it is classed as an unclean animal particularly abhorred by the Lord, I verily believe that the last word has not yet been scribed on the subject. Although I have lived for thirty years among the primitive people of New Guinea, I still find it a source of wonder as to why these people cling so tenaciously to this degrading quadruped.

Would you believe that many hundreds of thousands of Papuans and New Guineans still sleep in the same hut as their pigs? Within a hundred yards or so of my home on this mission station I can show you several huts where this in credible degradation is still unashamedly in vogue. To feed them and protect the native gardens from their ravages requires a lot of energy, not to mention the many serious tribal fights over this animal that result in the loss of many human lives. Why is it that this despicable animal plays such a prominent part in the lives of these people?

To this enigma I have endeavored to find an adequate answer. After giving it much thought I am convinced that the enemy of souls has dragged these people to the lowest degree of depravity both physically and spiritually. It is a well-known fact that man is degraded to the level of the object of his worship. To support this proposition I offer the following reasons.

Unclean Indeed!

Let us first consider the physical implications. "God did not prohibit the Hebrews from eating swine's flesh merely to show His authority, but because it was not a proper article of food for man." --Counsels on Health, p. 116. Ellen G. White further says:

The tissues of the swine swarm with parasites. Of the swine God said, "It is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass." This command was given because swine's flesh is unfit for food. Swine are scavengers, and this is the only use they were intended to serve. --The Ministry of Healing, pp. 313, 314.

Dr. Bruce W. Halstead, a renowned biotoxicologist, aptly says, "The hog . . . is almost universally recognized as a walking garbage can. In many primitive areas of the world it is utilized as the professional scavenger of the community, as well as for food."

A Breeder of Disease

Pork eating is the cause of many diseases. It is interesting to note that the bacilli of tuberculosis and leprosy are morphologically akin. Thus, it was with increased interest that I read in Selected Messages, book 2, page 417: "The eating of pork has produced scrofula [a form of tuberculosis], leprosy, and cancerous humors. Pork-eating is still causing the most intense suffering to the human race." Who gave Mrs. White wisdom to connect these two diseases as in this statement?

A further menace to life in this primitive country is a dangerous condition that has come to be known as "pig bel." Half-cooked putrefying pig's flesh often lies for several days in the tropical sun during heathen pig feasts, when hundreds and sometimes several thousand pigs are slaughtered and eaten under incredibly unhygienic conditions. I have seen infants little more than a year old grab the revolting flesh and stuff it into their mouths, while adults gorge them selves on it and struggle home holding their overburdened abdomens. Each year many agonizing deaths occur from this condition.

"Pig Bel"

The medical superintendent of our Sopas Adventist Hospital, Dr. Charles T. Hammond, who has operated and saved many victims of this disease, has given me the following information:

"Pig bel," or Enteritis Necroticans, to call it by its medical name, seems to be peculiar to Papua- New Guinea. This condition is caused by eating rotten pig meat infected with a pathogenic bacteria named Clostridia Welchii that is thought to cause the disease. Mainly the upper portion of the small intestine becomes diseased and can include even a section of the duodenum. The affected section be comes blocked and gangrenous and may rupture if not surgically treated immediately. The patient usually presents himself to the hospital with signs and symptoms of peritonitis and obstruction of the small intestine. This critical condition necessitates urgent and drastic surgery which cannot even promise recovery in all cases. (I have removed as much as fourteen feet of small intestine from one man.) Despite the fact that the people know the cause of this dangerous disease they are not deterred from eating the pig that causes it.

Now let us take a look at the spiritual connotation this creature signifies to these heathen people. Our Seventh-day Adventist mission is the only known one in this land that prohibits the propagation and use of the pig. Although we are often criticized for this stand, the following observations will vindicate our action from a spiritual standpoint.

The Pig and Heathen Rites

A converted native once told me at great length how the pig was associated with every aspect of their heathenism. When they saw, ate, or handled a pig their thoughts inevitably turned to their heathen practices. Therefore, he said, we are justified in forbidding our converts from having any connection with this animal. Because of this ban it is noteworthy that when examining candidates for baptism the date of final renunciation of heathenism is synonymous with the time they remove their pigs from their huts and discontinue eating swine's flesh.

The heathen religious life of this heterogeneous race of people is a fascinating and complex study. It takes a wide variety of forms, but if there is any one common denominator it is the centrality of the blood and fat of the pig in all ceremonies. Be it the veneration of the holy stones, the appeasement of the many gods of fertility, or an oblation made to an offended god, the crucial act is the offering of the fat of a pig or the pouring of its blood.

A Sacrilegious Blood Offering

This offering brings us to the conclusion that the devil has beguiled these primitive people to the point that they unwittingly perpetrate the most heinous act of sacrilege substituting the blood of the most abhorred animal for the blood of our precious Saviour. What greater contempt could the deceiver heap upon our Redeemer?

Therefore, it is not without reason that God detests the abominable swine, and when He returns to this earth He is going to be filled with wrathful indignation against eaters of swine's flesh. "They that sanctify themselves, and purify them selves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord" (Isa. 66:17). This interesting verse sounds like a description of a sing-sing ceremony in New Guinea, where the mouse is also considered a delicacy.

Why must mortal man defy the wisdom of his Creator and continue this needless flirtation with death?

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-Lagaip District Director, New Guinea, at the time this article was written

October 1972

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