Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Christianity and Animal Welfare
Enza Ferreri Blog ^ | 21 November 2013 | Enza Ferreri

Posted on 11/20/2013 7:19:50 PM PST by Enza Ferreri

Milan, Santa Maria delle Grazie: Leonardo, The Last Supper

After Support for Christianity Should Not Alienate People, How Christian Charity Developed Western Ethics, Hospitals, Schools and Slavery, Colonialism and Christianity, I've arrived at the fourth installment of my replies to common contemporary criticisms of Christianity.

The issue of how animals are considered is of particular ethical importance so, if I really believed that Christianity debases the moral status of animals, I would not support it.

About the issue of treatment of animals, my reader Tony says:

I cannot see how you, as a vegan, can support the Bible: the treatment of animals in the Bible is appalling, and I say this even though I am not vegan. Burnt offerings of animals is a fundamental aspect of worship in the Old Testament, God is pleased with the smell of burning animal flesh, cutting animals in half is considered 'good' in the eyes of Yahweh, e.g. Exodus 29:16-18 "16 Slaughter it and take the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides. 17 Cut the ram into pieces and wash the inner parts and the legs, putting them with the head and the other pieces. 18 Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire." It's wrong and primitive Enza.
Here Tony makes the same mistake I've already briefly discussed before: confusing and conflating the Old Testament into Christian doctrines.

This is especially true regarding the subject on which he dwells, offerings of animals, since these two religions, Judaism and Christianity, are on it entirely different, so much so that we cannot even talk of a Judaeo-Christian tradition. There are two distinct traditions, going in opposite directions. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, then it is highly significant that the Old Testament and the New on animal sacrifices have led to antithetical practices.

Judaism here presents, alas, similarities with Islam. Modern ritual slaughter to produce kosher meat in the former and halal meat in the latter is closely related to animal sacrifice.

That is why Rabbi David Wolpe felt the need to write an article In Defense of Animal Sacrifice, fortunately rebuked by the people who commented on it. His arguments are falsely against animal cruelty, in that he doesn't take into any consideration that the stunning of animals before slaughter, which Jewish ritual slaughter does not do, is a humane way to spare them at least some of the agony and anguish.

Christianity, on the other hand, is and has always been one of the very few religions and cultures not to standardly practice animal sacrifices.

Here again, Christianity has produced momentous cultural consequences. Christians claimed that, since Jesus had shed his own blood and offered a perfect sacrifice, there was no more need of animal sacrifice, because the door was now open to access God. In ancient times - and still today in many non-Western cultures -, people believed that the death of a sacrificial (in some cases human) animal was necessary in order to approach God or the gods. After Jesus' sacrifice, Christians rejected animal sacrifices, and this has created in the Christian West a culture averse to them.

As with slavery, the fact that the New Testament does not explicitly condemns the practice of animal sacrifice is much less important - in terms of the effects and the way of thinking that it has generated - than the entirety of its message.

It is so strange how Eastern religions are always praised for their consideration, even reverence, for animals, when Hinduism carries out animal sacrifices on a vast scale. What has been dubbed "the world's goriest mass killing of animals" is a Hindu festival involving the sacrifice of 250,000 animals in the village of Bariyapur, in Nepal.

If we - or some of us - don't associate the ending of animal sacrifices with Christianity, in the other parts of the globe they do:

The practice [of ritual slaughter of animals] is now far less universal than it was once, and in Christian countries it is generally looked upon as one of the basest expressions of primitive superstition. There is, for instance, hardly a book written to defend the “civilizing” role of the white man in India, which does not give publicity to that gruesome side of Hindu religion, through some bloodcurdling description of the sacrifices regularly performed in the temple of the goddess Kali, at Kalighat, Calcutta.
This, once more, gives away where these constant attacks on Christianity originate: from the politically correct, the multiculturalists of today, heirs to the communists of yesterday, who only blame whatever is connected with the Western world for the speck in its eye and never dream of noticing, let alone criticising, the log in the eye of the rest of the world.

I wish that our atheist friends realised that, every time they attack Christianity, they attack the West, our culture, our world, our countries.

Going back to Tony's Biblical quotations, the Old Testament (the several canonical editions of which are largely based on the Tanakh, the "Hebrew Bible") is a collection of Jewish texts, and Judaism is a different religion from Christianity.

The Old Testament pre-dates the birth of Jesus Christ. How can what's written in it be attributed to the teachings of a man who was not alive when it was composed?

In addition, what matters is not so much counting the references to not harming animals in the New Testament, even less in the Old Testament, but looking at the meaning of the whole message.

The animal welfare and rights movements were born out of the compassion that Christianity has inspired throughout its vast influence on Western thought.

Does Tony really think it’s a coincidence that the animal rights movement only started and developed in the part of the world which is historically Christian, the West?

In the moral philosopher Peter Singer's theory of the “expanding circle”, which I think is correct, the moral development of a society goes through stages: first people allow into the sphere of moral consideration only close relatives, then clans, then tribes, then populations, then nations, then the same ethnic group, then the whole human species, and then – and this is the phase which we are entering now in the West – all sentient beings.

Expanding the circle to include all humans was done in the deepest sense, in the most effective and lasting way by Jesus Christ, at a time when that was unthinkable for most people.

Still today, the moral equality of all men is not embraced in every part of the world.

Islam, for example, does not consider all the human species as equal. Islam condones racism, against blacks for instance, and slavery, which still exists in the Muslim world. For Mohammedanism non-Muslims do not have equal status with Muslims, the community of believers, called the “Ummah”. Non-Muslims are not treated with equal consideration and respect as Muslims, nor do they have equal political rights in Islamic countries.

Hinduism incorporates the caste system, a form of inequality which is part of the religion.

It's very difficult, if not impossible, for a culture that has not fully accepted human rights and the equality of all men to develop the idea of animals' moral equality and rights.

That's why only the West, thanks to Christianity, has been able to do so.

In short, there is no comparison.

Without our Christian roots animals would have been in much greater trouble, as well as humans.


TOPICS: History; Pets/Animals; Religion; Society
KEYWORDS: animalrights; animalsacrifices; animalwelfare; christianity

1 posted on 11/20/2013 7:19:50 PM PST by Enza Ferreri
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Enza Ferreri

If I misunderstand your comments, please let me know.

It’s very important to remember that the purpose in Christian doctrine does not include any principle having to do with assigning a new moral status to animals.

In fact, we are warned against the sin (and the lie) of worshiping the creature rather than the creator.

“...who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 1:25-24)


2 posted on 11/20/2013 7:36:07 PM PST by reasonisfaith ("...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Enza Ferreri

I disagree that the old and new testaments are all that different. In the old testament animals are in high regard - there blood is the blood of life and is sacred. But sin requires the shedding of blood, so this was used as a substitute until the appointed time for the “real” thing to appear. And the animal had to be “without blemish”. This prepared the way for The Messiah to come - without blemish - and to shed His blood as the price for our sins. The animals are really a preparation for the Messiah - pretty high status, I would say


3 posted on 11/20/2013 7:37:54 PM PST by impactplayer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: impactplayer

Good points. Also, Proverbs 12:10 says “The righteous man cares for the needs of his animal...” (NIV) or “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast...” (KJV)


4 posted on 11/20/2013 7:51:54 PM PST by VRWCmember
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Enza Ferreri

Also when God rebukes Jonah for not caring about the inhabitants of Ninevah He also mentions the many animals that would die if He destroyed the city.


5 posted on 11/20/2013 7:55:23 PM PST by Some Fat Guy in L.A. (Still bitterly clinging to rational thought despite it's unfashionability)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Enza Ferreri
The Old Testament pre-dates the birth of Jesus Christ. How can what's written in it be attributed to the teachings of a man who was not alive when it was composed?

Really? If you wrote this and believe it you have redefined Christianity and you are dead wrong. If it is sarcasm my mistake. This has to be the dumbest thing a 'Christian' has ever written.

6 posted on 11/20/2013 7:56:05 PM PST by xone
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: impactplayer

If it’s true that animals have high status according to Christian doctrine—I must say, such a thing seems to have gone unnoticed by scholars during all the two thousand years of Christian tradition.

If this is incorrect, please let me know.


7 posted on 11/20/2013 7:56:19 PM PST by reasonisfaith ("...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: reasonisfaith

The animals were created just below man, and man was given dominion over them. I agree, man has not always done this (or anything else, for that matter) all that well, but that is created order before sin. The sacrifice of Jesus offers us the opportunity - as followers of Jesus - to be restored to that created order and to be at one with Him. The animals are not offered (nor do they need) this gift of grace.


8 posted on 11/20/2013 8:08:38 PM PST by impactplayer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: reasonisfaith

It would depend on what you mean by “high status”. Many Christian thinkers and apologists have preached on the issue of animals having an after-life. There is much Biblical evidence to support this, and it’s only been in recent times that mankind has treated this as some type of “threat” to his own “special relationship” to the Lord. More indicative of the mentality of humanity than of God having changed His mind about animals being eternal (remember the Garden?) God loves all of His creation far more than humanity is capable of understanding — and not just His two-legged creation, either. He cared enough for animals to insist that they be given a rest on the 7th day - as their owners were to do for themselves, and He made a covenant with them after the Flood — as He did with Noah. Animals are only at the bottom of the totem pole for some who haven’t bothered to read their Scriptures. (And the concept of worshiping the creation applies just as well to the worship of children and idolatry that some parents exhibit on their behalf.... Just sayin’.)


9 posted on 11/20/2013 8:09:36 PM PST by JLLH
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: VRWCmember

Indeed.


10 posted on 11/20/2013 8:10:11 PM PST by JLLH
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: impactplayer

I agree with this. Who else but animals could mimic and foretell with their innocence the shed blood of Christ?


11 posted on 11/20/2013 8:11:01 PM PST by JLLH
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: JLLH

I have always understood Jesus was a vegetarian. Furthermore man can easily happily and more healthily live on vegetable legumes and fish ( and eggs and dairy etc if you so desire)

The GUT rots when it eats flesh of beasts. There is no question about it

Now I ain’t gonna argue that ribs steak chops and the rest don’t TASTE good.

Not do I think eating animals or not affects the environs (in the 1st world only ).

So in short. Didn’t Christ teach compassion for ALL beings, great and small? Speaking and dumb?

Methinks so


12 posted on 11/20/2013 9:32:09 PM PST by Truthoverpower (The guvmint you get is the guvmint you deserve)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: impactplayer; JLLH

In all sincerity, I should point out that their lack of capacity to choose between right and wrong excludes animals from having any moral status in and of themselves. They are amoral entities.

We should treat animals kindly for one reason—to glorify God the Creator.

Except for a single exception, it seems to me animals in the Bible have no intrinsic value and are nothing more than props and symbols—unlike people who are given value by their Creator as sovereign individuals.

That one exception is when the father of all lies became an animal in a failed attempt to destroy God’s creation.

Humans have the potential to exist on a higher plane (infinitely so) than animals because humans, as John Lennox has explained, are the one creature God can become. As in the case of Jesus Christ, who glorifies God when he fulfills Biblical prophesy in crushing the head of the serpent.


13 posted on 11/20/2013 9:38:19 PM PST by reasonisfaith ("...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Truthoverpower

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

(1 Timothy 4:1-5)


14 posted on 11/20/2013 9:42:42 PM PST by reasonisfaith ("...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Enza Ferreri

LOL there are so many people screwed up on the subject {any subject } regarding religion specifically christian religion when you start talking about Animals they are going to go radically overboard trying to convert dogs and cats to one denomination or another .....

this is going to get way out of hand people will start fights over weather their cows are catholic or baptist !


15 posted on 11/20/2013 9:44:01 PM PST by ATOMIC_PUNK (I'm not afraid to say what i mean nor should you be afraid of what you know to be true !)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Truthoverpower

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

(1 Timothy 4:1-5)


16 posted on 11/20/2013 9:52:24 PM PST by reasonisfaith ("...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Enza Ferreri

I don’t have a doctorate in philosophy but I’m comfortable dealing with it at any level.

Many philosophers, including Singer, trip and fall over the subjective in their attempts to get at the objective. This is part of the process of transitioning from philosopher (lover of wisdom) to philosophist (lover of bad or false arguments).

Postmodernism tried to tell us we could change any text—as is attempted here with the Bible—into whatever we please. But postmodernism begins with a desire to end all truth. And in denying truth, postmodernism makes a truth claim and thus refutes itself—destroying all of postmodernism in one fell swoop.

Four years of lectures from postmodernist philosophers seems like a lot to unlearn, especially since it’s a task faced by millions of current and future graduates. But I’m convinced it can be done with as little effort as it takes to remember that truth is not subjective.


17 posted on 11/20/2013 10:16:41 PM PST by reasonisfaith ("...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: reasonisfaith

“Four years of lectures from postmodernist philosophers” should have been “Four years of lectures from postmodernist professors”


18 posted on 11/20/2013 10:31:49 PM PST by reasonisfaith ("...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: JLLH

Does that mean I will still have those annoying mosquitoes buzzing me in Heaven?


19 posted on 11/21/2013 6:35:45 AM PST by Resolute Conservative
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Enza Ferreri
"The Old Testament pre-dates the birth of Jesus Christ. How can what's written in it be attributed to the teachings of a man who was not alive when it was composed?"

That one comment shows that you clearly don't have the first clue about Christianity. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ was God made flesh. Exactly the same God who wrote/inspired the Old Testament.

20 posted on 11/21/2013 11:50:04 AM PST by Natufian (t)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Truthoverpower
I have always understood Jesus was a vegetarian.

There is NOTHING in Scripture to support that notion. For one thing He clearly encouraged eating fish. Fish is an animal and not a vegetable. As for other meats, He appeared to Peter in a vision after His ascenscion and commande Peter to arise and eat after presenting to him a blanket covered with meats (including pork) that were ceremonially "unclean" according to the Hebrew law.

21 posted on 11/21/2013 2:22:59 PM PST by VRWCmember
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: VRWCmember

The guy gave out bread (carbs), fish (anti-PETA) and wine (OMG!).

He couldn’t survive modern criteria, LOL.


22 posted on 11/21/2013 2:25:10 PM PST by nascarnation (Wish everyone you see a "Gay Kwanzaa")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: reasonisfaith

There is no Biblical basis for seeing creatures as “props”. The Bible does not support such a view and the story of Creation clearly places animals in the garden before man. At that time there was no killing, no eating the animals — and God reiterated that. The animals are innocent victims of what mankind did to God’s world. That is reflected every day. As for what God “can become” — He “can” become anything He so chooses. Revelation points out the animals are clearly worshiping before the throne of their Creator. They are not left out, nor were they an “afterthought” of any kind. They are not here for ornamentation or for man’s pleasure. They are here for God’s - as we are.


23 posted on 11/21/2013 2:31:30 PM PST by JLLH
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Resolute Conservative

Annoyances, stinging and biting insects, etc... have their nature as a result of the Fall. According to Scripture, all of creation groans for the redemption of the world as it was — and none will be disappointed (among the animals, at least. Humanity is another ball game altogether...)


24 posted on 11/21/2013 2:33:30 PM PST by JLLH
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Truthoverpower
If you have ever read the Bible, how on earth do you "understand" that Jesus was a vegetarian? As a Jew He participated in Passover meals, which called for the ritual slaughter and consumption of a lamb. Also, Scripture more than once records Him eating fish with the apostles.

Beyond that, after the flood God specifically gave us meat to eat. Jesus IS God in flesh, so why would He have adopted some silly food fetish which contradicted His own directive?

To my knowledge, only PETA makes the claim Jesus was a vegetarian.

I have been an animal lover all my life, and I have never believed stuff like your claim---"the gut rots when it eats the flesh of beasts." God would never have given us meat to poison us. And I most certainly do not buy into the fiction that vegetarians are more healthy. Every one I've seen has pasty, parched skin and dry hair.

Do yourself a favor. Have yourself a big old steak or pork chop for dinner tonight...while you're at it, wrap 'em in bacon. All that nice animal protein and those lovely oils are just what your body wants.

25 posted on 11/21/2013 4:12:11 PM PST by CatherineofAragon ((Support Christian white males----the architects of the jewel known as Western Civilization.))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: JLLH

Well, I’m glad the Lord defeated the serpent.

On a lighter note, something comes to mind—if I’m going to have no choice but to become a vegetarian, there’s a problem. My mouth waters every time I see a deer in its natural habitat. Clearly the deer is my natural prey (from a biological perspective). Remember the deer scene from Red Dawn?


26 posted on 11/21/2013 6:20:59 PM PST by reasonisfaith ("...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: reasonisfaith

I never saw it, sorry. I’m also glad that the end has been written and we know who is victorious!


27 posted on 11/21/2013 6:45:55 PM PST by JLLH
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Natufian

You don’t understand the main point of this essay. Many people - and that includes me - don’t believe in God, but believe in the validity of Christian ethics and culture. Like all religions, Christianity has two aspects, the spiritual (personal) and the cultural (societal): I am not discussing the former, but it is the latter that needs to make a comeback. It is the heritage behind which the West can rally, to give it a core, a sense of collective identity, a moral foundation.

One of the first people to alert the West to the dangers of Islam was Oriana Fallaci, who was an atheist but called herself a “Christian atheist”, because she understood very well that the West - and indeed civilization in its proper sense - cannot exist without Christianity.


28 posted on 11/21/2013 7:34:20 PM PST by Enza Ferreri
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Enza Ferreri
Many people - and that includes me - don’t believe in God, but believe in the validity of Christian ethics and culture.

That helps explain your lack of knowledge on the subject. It doesn't fix your supposition about Jesus re: animals. You try and apply a biblical outlook when the Bible is about Jesus not animals.

a moral foundation

Why pass over the OT then? The Law was given there.

29 posted on 11/22/2013 1:35:02 PM PST by xone
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson