What Might a Distinction Christian Faith Look Like? part 3: Love and Animal Protectionism
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from All-Creatures.org


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

What Might a Distinction Christian Faith Look Like? part 3: Love and Animal Protectionism

Last essay, I discussed how scapegoating can bind communities, but there is much in the Christian tradition that rejects the scapegoating process. Indeed, Jesus recognized that, initially, his ministry would break communal bonds, and he said, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three” (Luke 12:51-53). In the scapegoating process, it would be four against one, but when there is three against two there is no unification of the larger community at the expense of one or a few individuals. Without scapegoating, will communities break apart?
In my book Guided by the Faith of Christ, I discuss how the need for self-esteem underlies the scapegoating process. I think Jesus showed us another path toward self-esteem, which is to regard ourselves as beloved creations of God, the source of life. If God loves us, we don’t need to be better than anyone else. We are only called to do what we can to honor and serve God. Loving God means showing love for God’s creation, and this has several implications.
First, it encourages forgiveness, which was a central theme of Jesus’ ministry. While we must be wary of those who have been harmful in the past, harboring resentment absolves us of the degree to which we are responsible for conflicts, facilitates scapegoating, and undermines community-building. Second, love and the unjust, violent* scapegoating process are incompatible. Third, love does not have arbitrary boundaries. Though we don’t have the same emotional love for everyone and we don’t express love the same way with everyone, our call to love should manifest as assistance and care as well as avoidance of harm whenever possible. Therefore, harming nonhumans unnecessarily is the antithesis of love and is a fundamental rejection of Jesus’ ministry.
Next essay, I will consider a common question: Is animal abuse a manifestation of scapegoating, or does it simply reflect humans exerting the ethic “might makes right”? 

Go on to: Are Animals Scapegoat Victims?
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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