I read your article about the Bible and animal rights, and I see that it is right on. Anyone with biblical knowledge knows it is. My problem is not with the use of animals for food or leather, etc, but with the unbiblical practices of big agriculture, which unduly confines, often beats, and misuses animals. "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast." The Bible requires that we be good stewards over animals. I think of the Law with its strictures against muzzling an ox as it plows or of putting two different animals together and plowing, or cooking a kid in the milk of its mother. Also, the ancient world used animals more for work than food, although they did eat meat. An over consumption of meat was the definition of gluttony, such as we do with our daily consumption of meat our eating of large quantities of ribs, wings and so on. The effects of such gluttony are seen in the obituaries every day -- cancer, heart disease, etc. Also I would say that some of the experimentation with animals is simply cruel and for no purpose. Take for example testing for the cosmetics industry, or the collision tests done on monkeys.
So, I agree that animal rights is ridiculous and that we have the right to eat animals and use them for work and for their hides, but I worry that we, Christians, aren't shouting the loudest against animal cruelty and misuse of animals. We used to. The anti-vivisectionists in England were Bible believing Christians as were the founders of the humane societies and ASPCAs. We were given dominion over all the beasts of the field, the fish of the seas, so we ought to exercise that dominion in a Godly way. By the way, I think most hunters do just that. They are concerned with wildlife, treat their dogs well and so on. I have a problem with big agriculture, so much so, that I won't buy their meat products, even though I gladly eat my brother's venison and all the fish I have ever caught and kept.
The complaints against big business have always struck me as false. They are always presented as vague generalities, never as specific incidences. Christianity does teach respect for animals and the world that God has given us. In the United States we have laws against animal cruelty, and they are being enforced. There are articles frequently in the paper about individuals who mistreated animals and who are heavily fined and sent to jail. You don't find the same frequency of problems being found with large food processing plants. They have very tight standards to follow. There are government inspectors who make sure they follow the laws. And any disgruntled employee would be quick to turn in their old boss if they weren't following the law. So, it all has the makings of a typical conspiracy theory and not actual fact.
Experiments with animals and humans are also a realm tightly regulated by the government. If there are people abusing animals, take them to court with the evidence and get it stopped. To grumble that it might be happening is not productive.
And, no, the biblical definition of gluttony is not eating large quantities of meat. See "Gluttony." A better simple definition of gluttony is unrestrained or uninhibited. It can be applied to many things, including food.
The articles I read about rampant animal cruelty were not about the processing houses, but the farms where the animals were kept. Perhaps it is just slander, but I know it is a powerful image to a lot of people, who think Christians are not concerned with such things.
As for gluttony I was think of Eli, who was very fat, presumably from eating the temple sacrifices to excess. I guess that is stretching it.
I am not an animal rights person, but I do love animals. I am also not against business. I am in favor of free enterprise and voted for Ron Paul in last year's primaries. I threw out my concerns about animals to you because I believe that we believers are to be God's stewards. I think that issues like treatment of animals and the like shouldn't be thought of as non-Christian.
The American Conservative magazine has an interesting article last year about how the left had usurped what had traditionally been Christian issue, the humane treatment of animals, and because of that, we have a generation coming up that believes in things like animals having rights. I remember trying to explain the impossibility of legal rights for animals, since what we traditionally think of as rights depend on an ability to sign contracts, hold property and so on. The concept of right is peculiar to common law and to constitutional government, two things that obviously exclude animals.
Anyway, thank you for responding to my email. I wasn't writing it to disagree with you. In fact I found you on a search for animals and Bible. I will probably read the other articles on your site also. I love finding new Christian sites. I praise God for the way He uses the Internet to get His word out.
I do appreciate your comments.
I do agree that concern for animal rights has been taken too far. Concern for the welfare of animals is something that God has always taught and that Christians should be watchful of. Yes, every once in a while I'll read about some farmer mistreating an animal. More often, though, I read about some city person caught mistreating her animals, usually by trying to keep too many of them. The fact that the mistreatment is caught isn't a statement that we aren't concerned for animals as a country or as people living after God's way -- just the opposite. The reason these people can be prosecuted is because we have enacted laws demanding respectful treatment of animals.
The problem I often deal with on this site are people who elevate animal rights above human life. Or who insist on rules never found in the Scriptures and then claim that those rules are the way God wanted the world run. I spend a lot of time trying to get people to stick to the facts, both in the Bible and in the secular world.
Keep up the good work. You are right to educate people who elevate concern for animals above concern for humans. I can't imagine someone being real concerned about animals and believing that it is ok to murder unborn babies, but in this crazy culture that is just the kind of mixed up worldviews we find. I suppose I could have been taking in by a little propaganda, but there were, for a while, quite a few reports in the news about horrible treatment of calves and other animals on very large farms. Animals that are kept in stalls in unsanitary conditions and fed a diet of second rate grain seasoned with antibiotics and hormones. Now as a consumer I don't want to eat that, and if it is true, I think it ought to be stopped. Since hearing and reading about these things, I have been buying free range beef and chicken. I believe it is more biblical. I, in no way champion the idea that animals are on a even plane with God, but I believe some of these wacky people with their unregenerate worldviews, might think we are hypocritical when we don't notice things like cruelty to animals. I hope you are right and it is rare. I know the other stuff isn't rare--abortion, divorce, homosexuality running rampant and Satan's attacks on the family, the church and God's law. The world is what the Word says it is, Psalm 2 is everywhere I look, and yet our God has wonderful mercy on an undeserving race in sending Jesus.
Thank you and I will stop bothering you with my comments. I will return to your site until I read all the articles.
Last count I had said there is over 6,800 pages on the site. Good luck :).