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By Joanne - 13 Apr 2017

In Reference to: Why Are So Few Christians Vegan?

Though the authors raise some important objections, their overall case–that the Bible and veganism are incompatible–is unconvincing. The passages they cite are capable of being interpreted differently. And it’s not clear why they demand that a work written so long ago should espouse exactly the same opinions as theirs.

Their remarks about Jesus fail to take into account the horrific persecution under which he lived, which almost certainly prevented him from articulating many sentiments and convictions. And there’s always the possibility that Jesus learned something from the experience of dying and being dead. Though while speaking to his disciples he does indeed seem to affirm the superiority of humans over nonhuman animals, when he returns from death, at least in one Gospel (Mark 16:15), he exhorts his followers to preach the good news to every creature–something Francis of Assisi (who gave sermons to birds, ransomed various animals, intervened in a town on behalf of a wolf, regarded all living beings including crickets and even lice as his brothers and sisters, etc.) clearly did not take lightly! And what if Jesus’ answer regarding the swine at Gadarene was a matter of a Scylla or Charybdis? The passage about the wearing of skins after the Fall, similarly, is a strange one. Apparently ancient authors did not believe those to be the skins of animals. That cows and other beasts are called “cursed” in the divine tirade would seem merely a statement of fact. They are cursed. They’ve been cursed a long time. That does not necessarily mean that they were living a cursed life in Eden. And the book of Isaiah, centuries later, clearly gives a different picture. Mercy is preferred to sacrifice.

The future of human beings is painted as one in which no animal is eaten or harmed in any way either by humans or other animals, and war is not studied any more. Even given a God whom many Gnostics, among others, including Jesus and Paul, regard/regarded as evil, that’s not a bad end toward which to aspire. C. S. Lewis remarked that the world is a temptation. Given, among other things, the near ubiquity of Satanic cruelty on the Earth, particularly with respect to nonhuman animals, that would seem almost self-evident. So maybe what is regarded by many as the book of the world may itself turn out to be a temptation. Even so, there is much that is worthwhile in it. And the demand that the Bible or religion as a whole be excluded from vegan or animal liberation discourse or strategies would seem hyperbolic. (What about the Jain religion?)

There are many rich, inspiring Biblical passages that could ENHANCE animal liberation–the same way many passages at the hands of Harriet Beecher Stowe in her famous novel helped to catalyze the emancipation of humans.

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