Humane Religion Magazine
January - February 2008 Issue
Christianity and Fur
In the beginning, God gave us 'dominion over' the animals before sin entered the world. The correct translation is 'to be good stewards of', however it has been twisted to mean that animals are for us to do as we wish with them. God is the center of the universe, not man or woman, and we are to actually be God's creatures' servants.
God gave examples for us to follow using animals. He tried to teach us
kindness to His creatures. Unfortunately for various reasons, church leaders do
not teach what the obvious is: 'Don't support animal abuse.' Rev. Hyland,
Evangelical minister and author wrote:
Although greed and avarice are not popular subjects for sermons in a consumer
culture, when that greed becomes the impetus for the slaughter of millions of
animals it represents a serious, moral evil. The willingness to have animals
killed because people lust after the covering given to them [animals] by God,
should be challenged by every religious leader. But it is not. Rev. J. R.
Hyland, THE IMMORALITY OF WEARING FUR
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states "Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness." 2416.
Surely animals belong to God, which is stated in the Bible many times, and 'The Lord is good to all and compassionate to every creature' Psalm 145:9. However, animals are waiting for us to set them free. In Romans 8:19-22 Paul says that 'all of creation is groaning in labor pains waiting for the revelation of the children of God - hoping to be set free from slavery to corruption'. Caring Christians work towards educating and encouraging others to fulfill this mission. In the meantime, we still see full length fur coats and fur trim in our churches and many compassionate Christians are disheartened to see it. I've learned from a leader in the fur industry who happens to be Catholic that they are doing us a service to keep us warm. It is obvious that the message of compassion is not getting out. To further understand the immorality of buying fur products, Hyland continues:
"While churches denounce the violence of television and films, of computer games and websites, as detrimental to their children's moral development, the violence perpetrated by adults on helpless animals is ignored. It is gratuitous violence and those young people, who have not yet sold their souls to the status quo, know it for what it is.
Yet when it comes to trying to understand why some teenagers refuse to accept the family religion, both parents and Pastors ignore any suggestion that this refusal may arise from an unspoken judgment on the part of the young person: a judgment of the immorality of those who easily accept any cruelty that has not been defined as such by their church. Church members would rather believe that the rejection of religion can be traced to a teenage rebellion against restrictive rules and regulations, than consider that there are adolescents, as well as adults, who reject a religion because its followers do not maintain a high enough standard of morality.....
The contempt for God's creation that is manifested in the Christian support of recreational killing is further revealed in the wearing of furs. At a time when synthetic materials are easily available and are more durable and warmer than animal skins, there is no excuse to slaughter animals for their fur. And in these circumstances, it becomes obvious that people are willing to have animals trapped, clubbed to death, or raised as commodities, simply to satisfy their vanity and their greed.
They sit in churches, wearing the evidence of their covetousness and their theft, and no minister or priest challenges this sin of the affluent.
Although the clergy have no direct control over the actions of their congregants, they do have some control over church policy. Drinking and smoking are outlawed within the sanctuaries of churches and there is no reason why the wearing of fur cannot also be forbidden. There is certainly a precedent. Although ministers usually do not speak out against hunting, neither do they allow the trophies of recreational killing to be hung in their churches. The heads of deer and other slain creatures are not allowed to adorn the sanctuary walls. Neither should the fur of dead animals adorn the bodies of worshippers.
Instead of treating immorality as if it were primarily a sexual transgression, church leaders need to exercise the kind of leadership that goes beyond such circumscribed definitions....
In our own time, many who profess to be followers of Christ would be incensed if their Pastors told them that worshipping God, clothed in the bodies of His dead creatures, was sinful. Immoral. Church leaders will preach against sexual sins even if this brings a negative reaction from the congregation; they hope that such preaching will keep their listeners from the spiritual and physical dangers of promiscuity. However they do not speak out against nonsexual sins that enjoy a high degree of acceptance among their church members; they are afraid of offending them. But they ought to be concerned about the spiritual dangers of greed and covetousness that are inherent in the supplying and wearing of furs. They ought to be concerned about the sin of self-righteousness, which is always a temptation for the religiously observant.
Unless these ministers of the Gospel look beyond the narrow circle of traditionally defined sinfulness, they will be like the religious leaders of whom Jesus warned. He said that although these men refused to see the truth themselves, they insisted on trying to lead others in the paths of righteousness and this could only lead to disaster. [The Pharisees] are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a ditch." (Matt 15:14)
Animals belong to God according to Scripture and we are to "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."
Christians who speak up for animals who are suffering for profit and greed
are often thought of as being radical, and that is exactly what Jesus was. All
animals in captivity are waiting for us to set them free - which was what Jesus
came to do - to set the captive free.
The new DVD "Christian Concern For All God's Creatures" addresses trapping - and the banning of wearing fur in Churches. It can be viewed online by visiting www.Godscreaturesministry.org. "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matt 5:7
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:13
Jan Fredericks, L.P.C., M.A.