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Humane Religion Magazine


September - October 1996 Issue

DISTORTED MORAL PRIORITIES

Rev. James Thompson


The following essay appears in a book of autobiographical essays by The Rev. James Thompson, entitled REFLECTIONS OF A SPIRITUAL TRAMP.

If only people would read the Bible as it is, rather than through the eyes of the Latin Fathers or Puritan Reformers.

I sense that we are still “picking out gnats while we swallow camels.” We engineer a whole host of discussions, liturgies, and ministries while we swallow, hook, line, and sinker, man’s exploitation of God’s creation.

We fail to realize that what we sow as a race and species, we will undoubtedly reap. We have failed to learn that life is basically sacred and interdependent; that to harm a part is ultimately to harm the whole.

God gave us human life and expects us to use it as faithful stewards of the world for which He gave His Son. Yet we exploit and abuse the larger part of creation, misusing the power that we have.

We cram hens into cages where they are perverted into egg-producing robots. We might even feed them with pellets containing their own excreta, if not the remains of their fellow creatures. And then we wonder why salmonella breaks out, or why fresh-killed diseases are on the increase. We might even have the audacity to question the justice of God in allowing us to suffer such retribution.

We perpetuate the horrific practice of vivisection and, paradoxically, expect physical health to come from this moral sickness—for good to be the reward of evil.


All life is sacred and interdependent. To harm a part is, ultimately, to harm the whole.


 The prayers of most Christians are confined to human needs. And as for the animals which God cared for in His Ark, and with whom he made the same covenant as He did with man, the churches have been unanimous in ignoring this inclusion. Yet the prime analogy the Lord gave of Himself is of the Good Shepherd. It is an image given so others might recognize Him in terms of the ways in which a righteous man cares for the helpless of another species. A species that has been entrusted to his care.

Thankfully, a change is slowly coming. The hypocrisy that conceived of “immorality” only in sexual terms is being replaced by the understanding that moral behavior has to do with all the ways in which human beings interact with each other—and with all other species of beings. #

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