Many Christians wonder if the Bible has anything to say about animals, aside from the odd verse about the righteous person taking care of their beast or God remembering the sparrows. But a thoroughly biblical faith does have quite a bit to say about animals, and actually gives us the strongest motivation we could have for caring about them. Please read on, and see our faq page for other common questions .
creation - stewardship - fall - redemption
We often take for granted that God created everything that exists, and that everything belongs to him and is sustained by him. But God also cares deeply about everything he’s made, including every creature which he lovingly brings into existence. He designed them painstakingly, as species and as individual beings, and he knows each of them and sees them as good.
This truth is behind not one sparrow's name: “Aren’t five sparrows sold for a couple of pennies? But not one of them is forgotten by God” (Luke 12:6). And if God places so much value in each of his creatures, how can we model ourselves after him by not making an effort to do the same? Every animal is a unique witness to us and the world of God's grace, and deserves our respect and admiration on behalf of their Creator.
creation resource pg ...
The first responsibility which God gave to humanity was to care for his creation and its creatures. This responsibility is often called stewardship, because we've been asked to watch over what belongs to God on his behalf. But we can only be good stewards of animals by first valuing them as God does, and understanding their individual natures and needs. We need to be committed to acting in their best interests, and not just our own.
The fact that humans have been created in God’s image doesn’t mean we have permission to be cruel overlords of animals, or careless beneficiaries of the goods and services they can offer us. Instead, it means we're meant to be caretakers, tending and nurturing each of the animals placed in our care, before we make any claim on them for ourselves. And this responsibility includes preventing their suffering whenever possible.
stewardship resource pg ...
Unfortunately, humans have rarely modeled God’s concern for animals, and the church has rarely set a different example. Instead of stewardship, we've most often been at the head of a selfish and even tyrannical dominion, and we’ve sunk to new lows of negligence and cruelty in our modern age. Because we're so familiar with the reality of the fall in our theology and experience, we may take for granted that creation’s innocence is lost and the world will exploit animals however it can.
The Bible even allows for many uses of animals, including killing them for food, so why should we be concerned if they are used for purposes which benefit humans? But the Bible repeatedly emphasizes God’s concern for animals, and expects that they should be treated humanely. Even when God allowed for meat to be eaten, though this was never his ideal, he stressed that his covenant still applies to all creatures. God’s permissions don't mean that our calling to be stewards has been dropped, or that boundaries haven't been drawn around the types of use which are honoring to animals, to God, and to us as his image bearers.
fall resource pg ...
Even though the fall has a tremendous effect on animals and our relationship to them, it's far from the final word. As Christians we're part of a new creation in Christ, and partners with a gospel which is working towards the redemption of all creatures. In fact, the apostle Paul tells us that our own response to the gospel is key to their redemption. We long for the peaceful kingdom which will someday embrace all of life, but we're asked to help make that kingdom as much of a reality as we can in the present.
We're called to follow Christ's example and confront suffering and evil wherever they show themselves, just as the Spirit continues to help us see how we may be contributing to these realities ourselves. We've been given the honor and responsibility of being defenders of the defenseless and advocates for those who can’t speak for themselves, including animals which are vulnerable and hurting. We can work faithfully to encourage animal welfare in every possible way as we look forward to the time when innocence will be the one perfect reality for all of God’s creation.
redemption resource pg ...