I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.Ecclesiastes 3:18-21
Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath ; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless.
All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
This blog post will make more sense if first you read the following short article. Go to the link below the photo.
Of course most of us tuning in to this blog think of animals separately from ‘the environment’. We may know that many evangelicals tend to lump them in with ‘the environment’. I found that the points made by the author in the above short article can be quite helpful in our own advocacy for non-human animals. We have opportunity to expound on these four ideas by, for example, using especially two of these 4 suggestions to help teach our evangelical brothers and sisters the difference between non-human animals and the environment.
Reject all suggestions that caring for God’s creation, in particular his non-human animal creation, is a liberal issue; dispel the idea that animals are part of the environment.
Animals are more like us than trees and water and earth! This can be clearly seen! All animals including fish see, feel, touch, sense, have a nervous system much like ours, are flesh and blood. One tool is to teach people to learn from the thousands of video about animal sentience and animal relationships with their own species, that of other species, and with humans. People need to reacquaint themselves with who animals are, we have become so separated from them by the way we live on the earth. We need an “in the Garden of Eden experience” renaming the animals! Humans need to get intimate with them as the creatures that God created them to be – our companions!
Companions get to know one another, seek to share a space, and to thrive together in their environment. The job of the Christian according to Genesis from the beginning, when all of creation was yet ‘very good’, was to tend, to keep, to till the garden itself (earth, water, plants, air), and to guard (to know intimately and specifically, to protect and care for) all of it and its inhabitants (non-human animals). Genesis 1:27-31
We must learn to gladly embrace a healthy dose of rejection, keep on smiling and talking about it anyway!
I think of what the author says at the beginning of his article. Charles Spurgeon was a conservative Christian and a revivalist who was avidly passionate about speaking strongly during his time about the institution of slavery in America. The article says that
American publishers of his sermons began omitting his remarks on the subject in his [Spurgeon’s] publications.A.J. SWOBODA
We know today that what we do to non-human animals has much in common with slavery that at one time was embraced by even Christians. We can chip away at this ideology of non-human animal slavery by continuing to find bold ways to speak out for them despite the audience’s criticism. We can use language like “keep swimming upstream, pushing against the cultural norms, against consumerism” – use language to change the culture. Change the language, and we can change the culture.
This shift is a well thought out and a very deliberate plan. The plan is simple and only needs a little patience, planning and the use of new words. In layman’s terms, if you change the words and their meaning, then give the people new words favoring your position you will have successfully shifted the entire culture towards your ideology.Changing the Language to Change the Culture
A small list of ways to change our language and thus the perception of reality. You can easily add to the list for your own advocacy:
- Associate non-human animals (use the word ‘non-human’; use he/she not it, for examples) with their likeness to humans and our mutual dependence upon a clean, well maintained, protected natural environment, that also shares space with non-human animals. Stress the importance of Christian Creation Care/Stewardship as part of showing the world YHWH’s indivisible love for ALL He has created.
- Push against ‘joining field to field and adding house to house until we live alone in the land’ (Isaiah 5:8). Speak out, for example, about how we share this land with all life forms and the need to stop urban sprawl; to learn to live smaller and live with less for the sake of all creatures who share the earth with us.
- Associate relationship with non-human animals as paramount to changing perception of who they are in relationship to humans – our companions and God’s pets for which we have charge and are to care for in the Image of our mutual Creator.
- Use the Genesis story before the fall to help people see the varying stages of creation and show how God Himself separates his creation. In the Genesis narrative we clearly see that animals are separate from the environment – the land, air, vegetation, trees, water were created on a separate day before the non-human and human creation, a ready environment perfectly suited for all of us to thrive in!
- Humans are part of YHWH’s creation, too. The church has so associated ourselves as ‘those made in God’s Image’ that we see ourselves over the creation but, so it often seems, we forget we are part of it. This language needs to change. In order for our first mandate – stewardship of the rest of creation – to be carried out in the fashion it was given us to be carried out in (see our Feature Video), it is vital we see how connected all aspects of creation are to all each other, humans too. The relationships between God and humans, human animals and non-human animals, humans and the earth itself cannot be understood properly unless we are connecting all things together. One aspect of creation will not thrive unless all aspects are thriving together. The first mandate task that YHWH has given us in Eden before corruption entered His good creation, is to maintain these relationships (see Genesis chapters one and two), to till, keep and guard all things created – human, non-human, environment with trees, plants, water, earth, air. Of course now, since corruption has distorted all of these relationships and the creation is subject to death, we cannot maintain them like we are supposed to. Yet it is absolutely imperative the church awaken to the paradigm God lays out for us in Genesis before corruption entered in. The church needs to understand it has a major role of reflecting as best as is possible in our fallen state YHWH’s intention for harmony within all aspects of creation.
Jesus’ work on earth restored the created order; He reconcilled all things to Himself and gave his human creation the ministry of reconciliation (Colossians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 5:18) . The Holy Spirit is in process of redeeming and restoring all creation toward the day Jesus returns, when every aspect of creation will be completely restored to YHWH’s original intention. Anything not consistent with the Shalom that will be creation’s final eternal state of being and functioning will be vanquished – the enemy will be completely swallowed up (Isaiah 25:8)! It is the church’s responsibility now to work with the Holy Spirit toward reconciliation of the relationships between all created things (2 Corinthians 5:18). We can do a lot toward encouraging our churches to see this responsibility by changing our language to reflect the connectedness of all creation, reminding the church that humans are also a part of creation, and stressing the importance the human creation has in the reconciliation of all things on earth.
For more about the Bible and non-human animals, see this post.
Thank you for reading our work, for following our blog, and for sharing the post; we appreciate all of you! Many blessings ~ Kathy
My calling as a Child of the Creator is to take the Gospel, as it relates to the WHOLE creation, to the world; and to remind the Church of its Biblical responsibilities to animals.
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