Reflections on the Lectionary: Micah 6:1-8
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

Reflections on the Lectionary: Micah 6:1-8

In the near future, I’ll offer some thoughts about animals as victims of scapegoating. This passage from Micah is too important to pass over. The passage begins with God accusing the Israelites of abandoning God’s law, reminding them of all that God has done for them. They respond with a plea, asking that God receive a great sacrifice – even the cherished first-born son – as compensation for their transgression. God rejects these sacrifices and instead declares:
“He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Sacrifices are unsatisfactory for at least two reasons. When they involve killing, they unjustly victimize innocent individuals. Second, they might balance the scales of justice but they don’t demand a transformation of the individual. In other words, by performing sacrifices there is little incentive to refrain from sinning again. One can simply do more sacrifices in the future. Micah asserts that God doesn’t simply want to balance the scales of justice. God wants people to live righteously. God doesn’t want things; God wants us.
God wants a transformation that is analogous to what it means to be born again. Indeed, being a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) lacks meaning if it doesn’t include a commitment to serve God. Serving God is one way to understand what it means to “walk humbly with your God.” It is tempting to be arrogant about acts of justice and kindness, feeling superior to those we help, feeling good about ourselves, and enjoying the public acclaim of being regarding as a good person. However, humility calls us reject these self-serving motivations, which can undermine our activities. And, humility calls us to thank God for the opportunity to do justice, rather than to congratulate ourselves on our good works.
Eating animals and animal products is unnecessary for nearly all of us. Doing so requires a sense that one is so special that one is entitled to contribute to animal abuse, environmental degradation, and (frequently) world poverty and hunger in order to satisfy a food preference. This attitude is not a humble walk with God, but rather a rejection of God by virtue of choosing to harm God’s Creation.

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

Return to Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion