INTRODUCTION – I have two amazing brothers. My older brother Danny loves nature and wildlife – especially birds and deer, which he is constantly taking pictures of. My younger brother Billy loves nature and wilfdlife, especially deer and turkey and fish, which he regularly hunts with bows and guns and fishing rods.
While both of them see the value of nature and wildlife, thankfully both of them see that the value of humans is far greater as evidenced by their care and concern for many people in their spheres of influence.
Sadly in our society today, seemingly more and more people would say the value of animals equals or even exceeds that of humans. We saw that most graphically and perhaps most recently when the boy fell into the gorilla compound of the Cincinnatti Zoo, and the Zoo officials decided to kill the gorilla to protect the boy. The outrage over the killed gorilla far outweighed the relief that the young boy was not killed or gravely injured by the gorilla.
Well this last Sunday it was my turn to teach the World Changers class (elementary age boys and girls) in Children’s Church. My assigned topic was our value in God’s eyes.
So I started out by discussing with them the huge momentum/value shift in the Creation account in Genesis 1 when Moses began to describe the creation of man and woman. Only man (“man” in this discussion includes women) is made in the image and likeness of our triune God (Gen. 1:26). Only man is called by God to rule and reign over all the rest of creation (Gen. 1:26), and is given the gifts, talents and intelligence to do so. Only after the creation of man does God say of what He had just created, “…very good” instead of just “good” (vs. 31).
Then we talked about Our Value as seen in God’s care and Provision of animals and thus much more of us –birds of the air – Matt. 6: 25, 26 “…Are you not worth much more than they?”; lilies of the field Matt. 6:27, 28; many sparrows Matt. 10:29-31 “…you are more valuable than many sparrows.”; Luke 12:6,7 “…you are more valuable than many sparrows”
We affirmed that we are all very valuable to God – far more than any animal or collection of animals, though God cares about the welfare of animals as well.
Then I shared about how books about animal stories sometimes overly value animals as opposed to valuing humans. An abbreviated little book we have about Bambi is a good example of that. In the first paragraph the writer states, “Bambi’s mother taught him about life in the forest and how he always had to be careful of Man. Man was dangerous because he brought guns and harm to the forest.”
This statement in and of itself is not that bad. But in the mix of a culture and society that increasingly disses man and elevates animals, it can easily contribute to the confusion.
Then we looked at some of the extreme quotes out there in animal loving world. Such as:
“Life is life – whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human conception for man’s own advantage.” Sri Aurobindo Well no, actually it is God’s conception revealed to man.
Here’s another one: “People say: ‘We have rights over animals. They are given to us for use.’ We have no rights over them. You have duties towards them.” Annie Besant Actually it is probably best said, we have responsibilities over them, but the fact is we are meant to be “over them”.
I sat across from a young PETA employee on a plane trip last week. That got me curious about what some of their top people believe. Here are some quotes from PETA Executives: “Let us allow the dog to disappear from our brick and concrete jungles–from our firesides, from the leather nooses and chains by which we enslave it.” John Bryant, Fettered Kingdoms: An Examination of A Changing Ethic Washington, DC: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (PeTA), 1982, p. 15.
And again: “The cat, like the dog, must disappear… We should cut the domestic cat free from our dominance by neutering, neutering, and more neutering, until our pathetic version of the cat ceases to exist.” John Bryant, Fettered Kingdoms: An Examination of A Changing Ethic (Washington, DC: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), 1982, p. 15.
I didn’t have to comment on those quotes. The kids quickly got the extremism therein.
Then I asked them some questions to get them thinking biblically:
Who killed the first animal? God – Gen. 3:21
Who was the second to kills animals in biblical history? Abel – Gen. 4:4 How did God feel about it?
What did God say to Noah about eating meat after the flood was over? Genesis 9:3
What did Jesus say about eating meat? Mark 7:14-19
What did the apostle Paul teach about eating meat? Romans 14:3, 21
Then I planned to end with the most earth shaking demonstration of our value as seen in Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross (but we ran out of time) John 3:16; Romans 8:32
So here’s the bottom line: I think we all have a God given, innate love for animals. I think He created them for our pleasure and enjoyment and use. But let’s be careful that we don’t get sucked into the world’s perversion of this love for animals, that then causes us to de-value humans.
Jesus wasn’t thinking of animals when he was bleeding profusely on that cross. He was thinking of you and me and all the rest of humanity that He created, loved and pursued and died for.