I’ve heard people in and around the Church say some disturbing things from time to time. I remember one Facebook exchange a couple of years back that took me by surprise. I realize that there are animal lovers everywhere. I grew up on a farm, so I sometimes think I must have a different attitude towards them, but I’m not so sure that that really is the difference. Regardless, this particular thread was way outside of the normal bounds of simply loving your pets, IMO.
Some of the comments were along the lines of: “I hope that God will resurrect our pets too. Why would He give them to us and have us love them if we will never see them again?”
Seriously? Has the person who wrote such a thing actually read the Bible? Have they forgotten God’s entire purpose for human beings in the larger scheme of things?
Life Hope & Truth Article on Resurrection of Animals
That’s why I’m glad COGWA recently posted “Will God Resurrect Animals?” on their Life Hope & Truth website. It really does illuminate what the Bible says and does not say on the subject.
But God inspired a more complete answer that shows the dramatic difference between the life of an animal and the life of a human being. Solomon used the Hebrew word ruach three times. This word has two distinctly different meanings: “breath” and “spirit.” The King James translators rendered it “breath” in the first place it appears: “Yea, they have all one breath” (verse 19 [of Ecclesiastes 3]).
The Hebrew word is also used twice in verse 21, where the translators chose to use the English word “spirit.” But notice the contrast that God inspired between the end of an animal’s life and that of a human being. The spirit of man goes upward upon death, while the spirit of an animal goes down to the ground. The implication is that at death the “spirit of man” returns to God; the breath (in the case of animals) simply expires.
The distinctiveness of human beings should be clear from the Genesis account. As the article points out, a human being’s spirit returns to God, Who placed it within the person, and is stored, much like an electronic recording of the person’s life, and “perhaps for God to use in resurrecting that person” at the appropriate time. Animal spirit, as Ecclesiastes tells us, does not return to God upon death.
Not only that, but it just doesn’t make sense, if you really think about it for more than a couple of minutes:
Take this one step further: If God were to resurrect a beloved cat or dog, would it not seem logical for Him to resurrect all animal life? Where would He draw the line? Would He include insects, sea creatures and dinosaurs? What if your beloved pet was a snake, spider, mouse or giraffe? At what point in His plan would God resurrect all animal life? What purpose would it serve, according to His revelation to us in His Word? Perhaps an equally puzzling question would be, “Where would He put them all?”
The truth of the Bible is that God created human beings in His own image, according to His likeness. Genesis 1:26-27 shows that He viewed His creation of humans this way from the very beginning.
Mankind alone is created in the image of God, and that should tell us something. Mankind was given dominion over the entire earth, and that includes the animals as well. The earth was put here for our use, although mankind’s record has been more about abuse rather than use.
All of this squishy stuff towards animals basically comes from two very interesting sources. Neither of those sources is the Bible, however. Still, these events tended to occur along parallel lines until they predictably merged into one inevitable train of thought.
The first was the influence of Walt Disney. Drawings of animals and such have been around a long time, but he perfected animation of characters, and especially animals. By giving animal characters human qualities, they were more endearing to the public at large. However, most of it was slapstick style humor, particularly in the character of Mickey Mouse and his companions. Other animators of course followed suit and have created such classics as Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and so on.
That all changed, however, in 1942 with the debut of Bambi. For the first time, movie viewers were known to weep over the death of an animated character when Bambi’s mother was killed.
Even then, its initial viewing wasn’t as great as anticipated, many hunters and critics actually panned it, and WWII blocked its release in Europe. However, it was re-released a few more times, and it still went on to become a classic that many people have watched and become familiar with in subsequent releases.
The second was the onslaught of the teaching of evolution. Animals weren’t considered to have rights until mankind was turned into just another animal. However, as many have stated before me, you don’t raise animals by making them on the same plane as humans, but rather you lower the God-given stature of human beings down to the animal level.
There is an even more sinister side to this, however. As The Week article “No, animals don’t have rights” points out, “Once the dividing line between humans and animals has been erased, it’s hard to uphold any fundamental distinction between them”. This can detrimentally change the way we view human beings actually!
The animal rights movement, by contrast, invariably takes the opposite tack — either reducing us to the level of animals or attempting to raise them up to ours. Both should be resisted.
The founding father of the animal rights movement, Princeton University ethicist Peter Singer, takes the first approach. In a series of writings going back to his seminal book Animal Liberation (1975), Singer has developed a version of utilitarianism that denies any special status to human beings, and claims that the only significant moral consideration is the degree of pleasure or pain experienced by a sentient being. Since both humans and (other) animals are sufficiently sentient to endure pain, we have as much of an ethical obligation to avoid inflicting it on animals as we do on humans.
Provided that specific humans and animals are equally sentient, that is. In cases where that equality is unclear, Singer is notoriously willing, for consistency’s sake, to endorse infanticide for (ostensibly pre-sentient) human newborns — and to say that we have fewer moral obligations toward severely disabled human beings than we do toward certain highly evolved animals.
I should point out, Singer has endorsed “post-birth abortion” as an option for up to two years after an infant is born!
And yet, the opposite extreme also seems ludicrous, does it not? Can we really elevate animals to the level of humans? Will chimpanzees be given the right to drive? Why not? Right now, there is a lawsuit pending that could one day lead to just that. As CNN reports, “Chimps should be recognized as ‘legal persons,’ lawsuits claim“. If the plaintiffs win, then giving a chimpanzee a drivers license might not seem so far-fetched after all!
Don’t Be Cruel
Don’t get me wrong. A living thing is a living thing, and life is a gift that should not be taken lightly. That’s something else you learn on a farm. The taking of life needs to have a valid reason. Killing an animal for no purpose is wasteful, which makes it sinful on two counts. It is not taking proper care of the earth that God gave us.
10 Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast,
but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
To me, this verse says it all. Jesus said to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt 6:33). The above verse says the righteous man or woman recognizes the value of his or her animal. Can it seriously be made any clearer?
However, the Bible also says animals were put here for food (Ge 9:2-4). Humans were to have dominion over, i.e., make use of, the earth. It was to be done in a decent and responsible manner, not in the manner which it has been carried out in the past and thereby destroying the very home we live in (Rev 11:18).
Even the laws of sacrifices did more than merely protect the health of the humans involved, but they also minimized the amount of suffering that the animal goes through. A sharp knife was needed to allow the blood to flow freely and drain out as quickly as possible, else it would coagulate. This ensured that death wasn’t long and lingering. Judaism 101 “Treatment of Animals” confirms that this is still an element of kosher law today.
In fact, that article is an interesting read in and of itself, for it points out things I’ve not noticed before. For example, how many of the Bible’s heroes and heroines were people who cared for animals? In particular, what was the sign that Rebekah was to be Isaac’s wife? Were animals or only humans to rest on the Sabbath?
However, this extension of care to animals should not be mistaken for equality with humans or vice-versa. Human beings will have a place in God’s family, and that is why we will be resurrected. Animals do not have this place reserved for them.
We must be careful to not be too attached to the things of this world, even when they are right and proper to engage in in this lifetime. We must remember that we cannot imagine the joy and pleasures of the spirit realm (Ro 8:18)!