In my life, the most crucial element is my relationship with Jesus Christ, whom I have embraced as my God and Redeemer as a born-again believer. Despite my constant shortcomings as a follower of Christ and as a representative of Him, my faith influences all aspects of my existence. Those dearest to me, who also share my faith and understand the difficulties of living a life that mirrors Christ’s teachings in a world that often contradicts them, have played a significant role in shaping my spiritual journey from my earliest recollections.
My relationship with animals stands as a testament to the influence of my faith. In moments of utmost significance, I have cradled cherished animals as they reached their final breath. My affection for animals knows no bounds, particularly my beloved pets and faithful companions.
Being a follower of Christ, I hold deep love and reverence for all living beings, animals included. In fact, my devotion to animals intertwines intrinsically with my faith in the Lord Jesus. Regrettably, this profound and enduring connection between faith and animal companionship is not a shared belief amongst many of my fellow Christians.
I have encountered numerous devout Christians who, due to their belief that animals lack souls, adamantly refuse to offer prayers for sick, wounded, or lost animals. To them, beseeching for a soulless creature would be seen as a sign of disrespect, if not sacrilege. This presents a challenging predicament faced by numerous Christians—a stark contrast between compassion and indifference. As both a Christian and an advocate for animal rights, a devoted pet parent, and an activist, this incongruity deeply troubles me, sending shivers down my spine.
The soul encompasses three fundamental elements: a cognitive Mind, an emotional Heart, and a decisive Will. Animals, much like humans, possess these very attributes. Mistreatment can leave animals feeling despondent and desolate, just as it would affect any of us. Conversely, when we treat animals with the respect they deserve as creatures crafted by God’s hand and imbued with His omnipotence, they experience joy and contentment.
Genesis 1: 26 serves as the foundation for the belief system of numerous Christians regarding their interaction with animals. In this passage, God proclaims that humans are to possess authority over all creatures on Earth, including those that dwell in the depths of the sea, soar through the skies, roam the land, scuttle upon the ground, and crawl in its shadows.
Regrettably, the concept of “dominion” is often misused by Christians, leading to a range of harmful behaviors towards animals. In the mildest cases, negligence becomes prevalent, while in the most extreme instances, brutality takes hold. The online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary offers an alternative perspective, defining “dominion” as both “supreme authority” and “absolute ownership.”
However, Christians frequently twist and exploit the notion of “absolute ownership” for personal gain, straying from the path of abiding by God’s commandments. With the excuse of “dominion,” they may discard or terminate the life of an animal if its care becomes burdensome, asserting that as the owner, they possess the divine right to dispose of their possessions as they see fit. Moreover, they may inflict punishment or force submission upon creatures that fail to comply with human desires. This includes animals that struggle to adapt to being harnessed or tamed, those that fail to meet expectations in aquatic parks or circuses, or those that dare to display aggression towards humans, regardless of the mistreatment they may have endured.
Under the guise of human “dominion,” animals are often relegated to confined spaces in our backyards, forced to endure a lifetime of suffering while being shackled and torn by heavy chains. Left to endure the scorching heat of summer and shiver in the agonizing cold of winter, they subsist on contaminated water and food infested with insects. Throughout this torment, the sounds of laughter emanating from the family inside the house, along with the tantalizing aroma of plentiful food, serve as a constant reminder of their forsaken existence.
In the pursuit of power and profit, animals endure a life of confinement, trapped in tiny cages, continuously breeding generation after generation of “high-end” pedigree and coveted “designer” hybrid breeds. Their skeletal structures contort to fit the shape of their metallic prisons, their skin becomes infested with pests and plagued with relentless bites, their vision clouds from a lifetime obscured by darkness, and their spirits slowly decay, never experiencing kindness, the touch of a gentle hand, or the soothing words of compassionate souls akin to Christ.
Across the globe, animals are subjected to unspeakable cruelty on a daily basis. Some are flayed alive, others boiled alive, all for the sake of satisfying human vanity through fur harvesting. They endure cuts, poisonings, and unimaginable torture, only to ultimately lose their lives in the name of so-called “research,” which rarely yields any tangible benefits for humanity.
To sate the insatiable gluttony of mankind, sows are imprisoned in cramped nursing pens for their entire existence, deprived of the very basic comfort of lying down or turning around. Chickens, on the other hand, are crammed into overcrowded cages alongside thousands of their fellow birds, enduring broken bones and suffocation amid the suffocating mass. Cattle are subjected to electric prods, rendered immobile before their throats are mercilessly slit, then strung up by their hind legs to suffer a slow and agonizing death through prolonged bleeding. These appalling acts of cruelty are enacted repeatedly, countless times each day, on an immense global scale.
Throughout the course of my existence, I have borne witness to utter atrocities: creatures of the animal kingdom starved and subjected to brutal mistreatment. There have been feline beings so severely traumatized by abuse that they were marked for extermination due to their “unadoptable” status, a consequence of their profound fear towards humans. Canines have suffered from burns, gunshots, beatings, and stabbings. Astonishingly, all of this takes place in a nation that apparently adheres to Christian values, where the triumph of humanity is emphasized…
In the pursuit of a supposed divine order, the welfare of non-human animals is regarded as of secondary importance, non-essential, an afterthought, or even a luxury only afforded by the wealthy, the excessively compassionate, or the misguided. And, even more astonishingly, this is not only justified but presented as an inherent right and obligation, a commandment bestowed by God.
However, my knowledge of Jesus Christ is different. The Jesus I am acquainted with embodies love, mercy, tenderness, and benevolence. The Jesus I know is the one who keeps a vigilant eye on every single sparrow, observing the fall of each one. Referencing Luke 12:6, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (KJV), alongside Psalm 50:10-11, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine” (KJV italics original), further reinforces this notion.
As believers of the Christian faith, we do not possess ownership over these animals. Our authority does not reign supreme over them. They belong eternally to God, their Creator, and it is in Him that ultimate authority lies. We are merely stewards, entrusted with their care. We are not proprietors; we are caretakers, not creators. Therefore, when God’s attention is fixed upon the sparrow, be aware that it also encompasses the caretaker of the sparrow. When He lays claim to His cattle, His fowl, His beasts of the field, rest assured that the stewards entrusted with their well-being will be held accountable.
To truly embody the essence of Christianity, it is imperative that we strive to emulate the qualities of Christ. This core essence revolves around love, compassion, and a deep appreciation for the marvels of divine creation. Specifically, we must acknowledge and respect the sacred life that resides within every creature. It is through nurturing and cherishing all beings, even those that we do not deem deserving, that we will gain profound insight into the true meaning of worship. Only then will we possess the capacity to recognize and revere the magnificent works of the Almighty as we ought to. Moreover, it is through this transformation that we will effectively fulfill our role as representatives of Christ, the ones we are destined to become. The teachings of the Bible affirm the valuable lessons that animals can impart upon us: “Consult the animals, and they will enlighten you; let the birds of the sky inform you. Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you; let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12: 7-10, KJV). How many more innocent lives must endure suffering and perish before we finally grasp this fundamental truth?
Revelation 1:7, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”