Essay: Can We Be Spared?
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

Essay: Can We Be Spared?

Last week, I reflected on Genesis 18, in which God tells Abraham that God will spare Sodom if there are 10 righteous men in the city. God departs from Abraham before we learn what would happen if there less than ten, or even one. This question is pressing, because there are good reasons to believe that human civilization is at great risk of collapse because our resource use is not sustainable and because there is a growing ecological crisis. Like Sodom, human greed and hard-heartedness threaten to destroy humanity.
Can less than ten, or even one, righteous person save us? While there is great diversity within Christendom regarding the relationship between Jesus and God and regarding the meaning of stories about Jesusí life, death, and resurrection, I think a common denominator among all Christians is that Jesus was righteous. Will Jesusí righteousness save humanity from self-destruction?
Though I am doubtful that humanity will show the compassion, respect, and justice needed to meet our global challenges, I think that the legacy of Jesusí ministry gives us a shred of hope. Jesus taught that we should focus on God and Godís realm, that we should treat our neighbors as ourselves, and that we should show love and compassion. These principles, if taken to heart, would encourage people to be mindful of how all their choices affect other individuals. At a bare minimum, humanity must cease torturing and murdering innocent creatures to satisfy taste preferences, for fashion, for entertainment, for unnecessary scientific experiments (which, arguably, describes the vast majority if not all experiments), and the countless other ways humans abuse animals. If this is too much for humanity, then it seems that humanity has no hope of meeting the greater challenges involved in treating each other with compassion and respect. We must learn to share with each other and to cease striving to dominate each other Ė difficult lessons to learn. If we (humanity in general) canít find it in our hearts stop tormenting animals for trivial reasons, then how can we find ways to leave peacefully with each other? Conversely, if we find ways to rationalize tormenting animals unnecessarily, it is easy to rationalize injustice for humans when doing so seems ďnecessaryĒ for national security or maintenance of our standards of living, for example.
In my view, being Christian involves much more than declaring oneself reborn in Christ. It involves striving to be Christ-like, to have the same mind as Christ (see Philippians 2:5). Even if we aim to follow Christ in all our ways, we will still err out of ignorance or personal weakness, but a world of people dedicated to live as Christ lived (whether or not they call themselves Christian) will be far more likely to see humanity and the rest of Godís creation thrive. I think that, in large part thanks to Jesus, we have access to the knowledge of the Lord (Isaiah 11:9), which can bring about the realm of God. Will we use that knowledge, or will we perish?

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