MODERN DAY ANIMAL WORSHIPPERS?
by Wayne S. Walker
The 2/2/96 edition of the Dayton Daily News reported that following Pentagon consideration of sending flocks of sheep to sweep the mine-littered fields of Bosnia and spare soldiers the danger, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikesvili assured animal rights activists that it would not happen. His decision came in response to two letters protesting the reported plan sent by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). David J. Cantor, PETA’s senior researcher had written that using sacrificial lambs to set off some of the estimated two million mines "would replace the nightmare for human beings with a nightmare for defenseless animals who have done nothing to deserve such mistreatment" (as though the human soldiers had done something to deserve it?).
Democrat Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont joined the PETA fight by declaring on the U.S. Senate floor, "Anyone who has seen the horrifying injuries landmines cause would be repulsed by the sacrifice of defenseless animals that way." My first reaction to reading this was anger in realizing that these people actually think that preserving the lives of animals is more important than preserving the lives of people! My next reaction was a touch of humor in thinking about the possibility that the army could round up all the members of PETA (and maybe Sen. Leahy too) and use them to sweep the minefields of Bosnia instead of those poor, defenseless sheep! I suppose that this thought would be looked upon as being somewhat cruel.
One can argue the political and social merits of all this, but what does the Bible have to say? First of all, the Bible does NOT sanction the abuse of or intentional cruelty to animals. "A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel" (Proverbs 12:10). However, the Bible also teaches that there is a distinct difference between human life and animal life (1 Corinthians 15:39). Only man was created in the image of God Himself (Genesis 1:26-27). This is not true of animals. Instead, animals were created for man to have dominion over, in the sense of using them as his servants and for meeting his needs (Genesis 1:29, 9:13). So, the Bible teaches that man is definitely superior to the animals.
Well, where do some folks get the idea that animals and humans are basically equal and that humans should not use animals for medical testing, shelter, clothing, and according to some even food? This concept draws from two sources. The first is the humanistic theory of evolution which says that man is just a highly developed ancestor of lower animals. So any animals that we might kill are just our cousins anyway! The second is the pantheistic new age doctrine, borrowed from pagan eastern religions, that everything is "God" and that all sentient life forms, man and animal alike, have the spark of divinity within them. Therefore, we must treat animals with the same respect for their rights that we give humans. That is why Hindus in India refuse to use their overpopulation of cows for food.
Both of these ideas are false. Evolution is widely accepted, but has never been proven to be true. And eastern pantheism is just as wrong according to the Bible. Perhaps this is not true of all of them, but many leading animal rights activists are part of the general environmental extremist crowd who look upon the physical earth and all within it as the "Mother Goddess" to be held sacred and revered as divine. Again, there is no Biblical justification for mistreating animals in a spirit of plain old meanness. But neither is there anything wrong with using animals to provide food, clothing, shelter, and medicine for the needs of mankind, even if it means the animals’ deaths. God put them here for our use. In essence there is no difference between the extreme animal rights position and those heathens, whether ancient or modern, who actually have worshipped animals as gods.
Paul describes this attitude in Romans 1:20-25: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and forfeited beasts and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."
What is interesting is that so many people who conscientiously oppose any killing of animals for food, clothing, shelter, medical research, or even the protection of human soldiers during war, wholeheartedly endorse and support "a woman’s right to choose" to kill her unborn baby in the womb by abortion. It is difficult to see any logic in these two contradictory views. One last note. This has not been written to criticize everyone who believes in and works for the humane treatment of animals. However, before those who wish to please God take a position and act upon it, they need to make sure that the underlying assumptions of that position are in harmony with the Bible and represent the priorities that are taught in God’s word, not that of false religious beliefs. (—taken and adapted from With All Boldness, February, 1997; Vol. 7, No. 2; p. 18)