I volunteer with a local organization called Animal Rescue League of Iowa. They are a non-profit with the goal of saving the lives of stray, unwanted and needy animals. The organization has many different branches: stray pickup, community education, the actual housing of homeless animals, community outreach and more. They value the lives of animals, and will only put one down if the animal is a risk to society without any hope of being trained out of it or if they are so sick or injured that it would be inhumane to keep them alive.
Although it is a joy and a privilege to be able to help take care of these sweet animals, it comes with a heavy burden of sadness as well. Many of these animals have been abused and neglected. Dogs come in that are horribly sick, have matted fur and are scared to have someone pet them because they fear they are going to be hit. These past few weeks, we have had fifty chickens in our ranch program because someone was hoarding them all in a single house.
I could go on and on with more stories. Each time I hear one or I see an animal that has suffered purposeful or neglectful abuse, it makes me extremely sad, but also furious. This has led me to start thinking about what a Christian’s response to animal abuse should be. We dwell so long on other social injustices, why not this? Therefore, after thinking about it, I have composed a short list that I feel creates the Christian case against animal abuse.
#1. We have been given dominion.
Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” God has given us dominion over the animals; the definition of dominion means sovereignty or control. Since God has given us rule over the animals (and the rest of the earth for that matter), we should rule well. Refusing to pay attention or do anything about the cruelty inflicted on animals, or being the ones inflicting this cruelty ourselves is not carrying out correct and just dominion.
I am sure I do not need to list the countless verses that warn us to not be angry in the Bible. What is cruelty and abuse if it isn’t carrying out anger against an animal that cannot properly fight back? Abuse is a form of anger, and our goal should be to help eliminate this.
#3. They have one life.
If someone can show me a brand new verse that talks about our puppies and kittens being in Heaven, I’ll be willing to get into this debate with you. However, since I have never seen a verse of that sort, I stand by my belief that animals only have this life. Since they only have this life, and they do not have a soul that is going to live after their physical bodies die, shouldn’t our goal be to make this life as great as possible for them?
So there you have it-my not extremely eloquent reasoning as to why Christians should be some of the biggest voices against animal abuse. As for me, I am going to continue to fight against this horrible injustice, and help make life better for the ones that have had to suffer it already. Oh, and I’m going to hug my own two adopted furry babies just a little bit tighter and provide as great a life for them as I possibly can.