Monday, May 20, 2013


The Importance of the Bible to me #6

The Dignity of Animals

Stories of animal cruelty occur often. Insensitive slaughter at abattoirs, neglect of farm animals and stupid acts of cruelty fill the various media. People rise up with concern on behalf of the voiceless animal world. Don’t you find that rather strange? Why? Well if humans are an evolutionary mistake and are expendable why not dumb (presumably) animals. Once again the bible rises up to defend the weak, vulnerable and the voiceless.

It is the Judeo–Christian Bible and Faith which upholds an animal’s dignity and right. In Genesis 1 they are included in the creative act of the Lord God. They are there at the pleasure of the Lord. Humankind was given responsibility for the animal world’s well being. Sadly greed, fear and superstition have brought many species near to or into extinction.

Consider the following statements of Scripture and ask yourself is there any other religion or Faith with such safeguards? Deuteronomy 22:4: ‘You shall not see your neighbour’s donkey or ox fallen on the road and ignore it; you shall help to lift it up.’

Deuteronomy 22:10: ‘You shall not plough with an ox and a donkey together.’ Why? They are incompatible. One carries more of the load as it is unevenly shared. It is also undignified for two distinct creatures. The Lord Jesus also used it to teach us a spiritual lesson. Be not unequally yoked as a Christian and a non Christian.

Deuteronomy 19:19: ‘You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind.’ Breeding within the species is permitted, not outside it. I imagine this is to preserve the uniqueness of the species and prohibit grotesque caricatures of God’s creatures.

Within the framework of the Ten Commandments and its law of the Sabbath is an interesting comment, at least from an animal’s view. ‘The seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work – you, your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any other of your livestock …(so that they) may rest as well as you.’ Deuteronomy 5:14.

What is the basis for our view of an animal’s dignity? God the Creator’s creative act and His Law for their welfare. Perhaps the most significant act to confront a godless world’s view of animals centres on a donkey. It is how Jesus used it to take Him into Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace. Other passages also reveal the donkey in favourable lights. Surely there is a message about animals and their welfare inherent in this. Maybe this is a significant reason behind many animal liberationists attempt to protect these creatures. Would I be correct in saying that all of these, consciously or unconsciously, have picked up the biblical ethos?

Those who say the Bible is out of date, irrelevant, know not what they say. It is important for a wholesome, vibrant and God pleasing outlook on life and the treatment of others. In Psalm 148 in a poem of praise to God guess who are also given their voice to do this? Of course! ‘Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds.’ Will your voice be heard with theirs?

Ray (an animal lover) Hawkins

Next week. The bible is important to me as it points to a choice of destinies. See you then.

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