Hi everyone. My question today has to do to animals and how much accountability we have towards them as moral beings and Christians. Every morning when I put on my shoes my dogs get very excited as they think they are going for a walk. I often feel guilty for not “loving” them enough. It really is quick to take them around the block after all. Can we sin against animals? My wife doesn’t eat any meat as it traumatises her to think of all the slaughtering and killing. She often looks at baby cows running to their mothers for affection. Me on the other hand think that if God didn’t want me to eat animals he should have made them from meat . Where does our accountability towards them stop? Sure I can be more caring about where my food comes from and how the animals were treated. In this question is a bigger question I suppose about how responsible I am for other peoples wrongs but I will ask that later. I know some leading atheists also use the animal cruelty issue use the problem of evil and a god that doesn’t care. Animals don’t have souls do they? Can I sin against them? Any views on this matter?
I don’t believe our accountability is ever one we could give to the animals. On the other hand, if I believed as your wife does I would not eat meat either. But I can’t move from the original purpose of the beast.
First there is the manner in which they were created. Genesis 1:24-25, Genesis 2:19 KJV. Versus the manner in which mankind was created. Genesis 2:7 KJV. Still in Genesis 3 we read how GOD traded the fig leaf clothing that Adam and Eve wore for skins. That establishes from the beginning, a clear difference in purpose, ability, and the question of a soul.
I believe our accountability comes as stewards of the earth. Often, how we are in life, with one another and all GOD has given us; can reflect how we honor GOD. But we are human. So, our stewardship remains subjected to our fragility and the cumulative effect of our sin.
I don’t believe it is possible to sin against an animal. We can and do sin in how we mishandle, mislabel, and mistreat ourselves and the earth. The sin is then against GOD. I am struck at how often someone who consider themselves an animal lover, can not transfer those feelings to people. I personally know of animal champions who have broken or nonexistent relationships with their immediate families. We are nothing if we are not duplicitous in our own righteousness.
Do I eat meat? Yes, and I eat plants as well. But when I do so to the honor of GOD I don’t do so with excess and in ways that harm me or the earth. In America we seem disconnected from the earth. Once in rural America there was a respect for the earth and its beast. I often wonder if mass exodus to the city and the profitability in commercial farming has not robbed us.
As a group we are no longer connected to honorable ways of tending the earth and proper husbandry. In our drive for more and better we live lives misshaped by desire and convenience. Perhaps moderation is the order in a fallen world, that will never see its original purpose fulfilled.
When performing a scriptural study on this subject, I was overwhelmed. After three- and one-half pages of scripture references, I found it necessary to pray for singularity and simplicity. You might want to listen to Hugh Ross’ consideration of animal life. It gives a great deal to consider.
But all that I did manage to study supports the understanding that the animal is not the same as the human. But certainly, as a creation of GOD’s, worthy of careful and thankful considerations.
@jacque The short answer is that animals are not made in God’s image and that it is okay to eat meat, but that we should treat animals kindly. Cruelty is never from God. Proverbs says that a righteous man looks out for the needs of their animals and God gave Adam and Eve the challenge to rule over the animals and the earth with kindness and compassion.
Proverbs 12:10 - The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
I thought this article offered a good perspective on animals - we should enjoy them and be thankful for them, but recognize that they are less than both God and mankind:
Will our animals be in heaven? It’s best to be honest and say we don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if God, in generous wisdom, allows us to enjoy the company of familiar animals in glory. But we can be certain of two things.
First, we can be certain that if it will bring God more glory and help us to enjoy him forever, then God will reunite us with our pets. God knows what good gifts to give us, both now and forever (Luke 11:13). As Paul reasons, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). God knows what’s best for us, so we can trust him.
Second, we must guard our hearts and not allow love for pets or animals to diminish our affection for God. No matter how good a gift is, only he—not the gift itself—is worthy of our devotion. Pets included.