Christ Loves Creatures,
A thesis by: Norma Carol
- Edited Internet Edition -
16. All Creatures, Ch. 2, p. 5. Return to test
ANIMALS ARE SENTIENT,
TO BE RESPECTED AND CARED FOR OPINION.
Just as the Bible has passages that have lead to the "Use" opinion, there are many passages countering that viewpoint. There will be a look at several outside sources supporting this "Care" opinion. The "Care" opinion follows the belief in animals having souls, either go to heaven as redeemed with the children of God or being in a "safe place" with God until the New Heaven and New Earth. Additionally, they do feel pain and emotion, have limited reason (i.e., they know something good/bad is happening but do not know why), and are sentient, deserving of our service as being weak, the way Christ demonstrated servant lordship to people. Most importantly, animals have their own relationship with Godóone God has not found necessary to reveal to us! Suffice it to say, the Bible gives us at least a clue to that relationship and it is glossed over and ignored by the majority of Christians, both clergy and lay. Again, letís start "in the beginning".
The Old Testament
Genesis 1:24-28, declaring Godís creation of both animals as well as male and female on the same day, clearly shows animals and mankind have much in common. First, however, I must stress what we do not have in common: People are made in Godís image and have been given divine instruction to act accordingly! Those of us who are born again are Christís ambassadors on earth and should be attempting to live in manner emulating His attitude (I say "attempting" because no human could ever be God). This includes the wide array of caring for all human needs and afflictions as well as serving as stewards of all creation. It is important to note in 1:31, Scripture reads: "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good." This passage does not say male and female were very good and animals were only good, or partially good, or not important.
Frank Hoffman of Compassion Internet Christian Church Ministry explains this succinctly as follows:
"Governmentally" only were the animals "inferior", as man was to rule over them. I do not personally consider any of Godís creations "inferior" to another, only that they were created differently, or that one was more exalted than the other.16
In understanding dominion, people must look beyond what they see, or think they see, to what is unseen. And once we have done this, we must ask ourselves a question, "Are we of the dominion of God, or of the dominion of Satan?17
Reexamining Genesis 2:18,19 where God originally made animals as potential helpers to Adam, let us keep in mind that none were suitable so God created woman (2:20c, 21). Since none were suitable, how can animal experiments, research, and exploitation for entertainment be justified? Even if some research benefits humans, are the gains not ill gotten? This is a thought to keep in mind when this is further discussed in later section.
Now the question is, if Eve is suitable as a helpmate to Adam, does this mean Adam has a right to use or abuse Eve? The answer is NO! We must understand that Adam and Eve, and all people since, are made in Godís image and, although we share the same DNA and creation day, as Hoffman states, creation was done differently. Eve was Adamís helpmate in life, and vice versa: they shared the tending of the garden as well as the physical intimacy not appropriate between men/women and animals.
Although animals were created differently than humans, their importance is tantamount in Godís desire to preserve all animals from the Great Flood. He set up postdiluvian stewardship quite clearly (6:18-21). Noah and his family must have had to work day and night to keep up with the feeding of and shoveling for an innumerable number of species. It is amusing to consider what their shift pattern was.
Next on the trail of biblical animal rights, God made a commitment to the preservation of "every living creature" (9:12-15). Of course, this is the famous Rainbow Covenant extended once the floodwaters subsided. Keep in mind this eternal covenant is the same for people as it is for animals.
There are somewhat different opinions on what type of relationship is described between God and animals in Job 12:7-10. A Green Cross Scripture lesson relates the following under "Implications":
- Spiritual lessons are hidden in animals.
- Learning the lessons of nature tests our spiritual penetration.
- The Creatorís life is in animals.18
Study notes in The NIV interpret 12:7: "But ask the animals, and they will teach you" actually refers to expressing the knowledge that "the righteous suffer and the evil are secure".19 The NRSV states: "Even the beasts know that Godís unrestrained and irresistible omnipotence is behind everything;Ö"20 We must keep in mind Job is being sarcastic, yet acknowledgment of some type of a relationship exists in order for the created order (as the verses go on) to be able to teach humans a lesson on Godís power. Either way, however, the relationship between God and animals unfolds in that animals are able to teach humans something of value.
Briefly moving along, Solomon informs us in Proverbs 12:10: "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal." Ezekiel 34:19 focuses on animal care with, "Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?" In Hosea 2:18 another covenant is to be made concerning destruction caused by wild animals in verse 12: "In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground" that creatures will "no longer threaten life. Nature and history combine in a picture of peace" per The NIV notes on page 1720.
17. Ibid., Ch, 1, 10. Return to test
18. Author not cited. "Scripture: The Word on Animals and Endangered Species" in Green Cross: A Christian Environmental Quarterly, Vol. 2 No. 1. (Wynnewood: EEN, Winter 1990), 15. Note this seems to be a conservative publication. I take 3) to mean God has breathed into all creation, not that he is literally in it, as in pantheism. Return to test
19. Barker, K. (ed.). The NIV Study Bible 10th Anniversary Edition. (Michigan: Zondervan, 1995), 961. (Hereinafter referred to as "The NIV".) Return to test
20. Metzger, Bruce M., Murphy, Roland E. (eds.) New Revised Standard Version. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. (New York: Oxford University, 1994), 637, 638. (Hereinafter referred to as "The NRSV".) Return to test
Go on to Part 2 New Testament
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