The Bible, an ancient text, provides guidance on many aspects of life, but does it really address contemporary questions such as keeping pets in our homes? In Biblical terms, animals generally are regarded with respect, considered as God’s creation, alongside human beings. However, the subject of pets as we understand it today, particularly keeping them indoors, is not directly approached in the Bible. Nonetheless, by considering various Scriptures related to animals, we can form some insights into a Biblical perspective on pets in the home.
Humanity’s Responsibility to Animals
In Genesis 1:26, man is given dominion over “the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” This dominion isn’t a tyranny but a responsibility that suggests a relationship. The Bible encourages compassionate treatment of animals. Proverbs 12:10 states, “whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast.” A Christian perspective could interpret this as a Biblical endorsement of humanity’s responsibility for pets.
Pets as Companions
Animals appear frequently as companions or helpers in the Bible, but the concept of pet ownership, as we understand it, is largely absent. Take, for example, Balaam’s donkey, who speaks out to prevent him from making a grave mistake (Numbers 22:21-41). Also, consider the dogs that showed kindness towards the poor man Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). These suggest that animals have their roles in God’s creation, sometimes even directly impacting human narratives.
Pets In The New Testament
While the New Testament does not specifically address pets as household companions, Jesus often used animals in parables, appreciating their natural behavior to teach valuable moral lessons. He compared His love and concern for Jerusalem to a hen gathering her chicks under her wings (Matthew 23:37). Hence, suggesting the importance and dignity Christ put on animals.
Implications for Christians Today
So, what does this mean for Christians who have pets in their homes today? We can infer that as long as animals are treated with kindness and are not regarded as idols or reduce human dignity, keeping pets is in line with Christian principles. Deuteronomy 5:7-9 offers a warning about idol worship and, while pets are not explicitly mentioned, the warning could be extended to modern pet owners to ensure their pets do not become idols whose needs and desires are put before their devotion to God.
Christian pet owners should see their pets not merely as possessions, but as God’s creation, deserving affection, dignity, and appropriate care. This aligns with the broader Christian calling to love and respect all of God’s creation. It’s also crucial to acknowledge that while pets can bring great joy, they should not replace genuine human relationships or obligations.
While the Bible does not explicitly address the matter of keeping pets in the house, it does provide principles that guide how Christians should relate to animals. By recognizing our pets as God’s creatures, stewarding them with compassion, and ensuring they do not become idols or distractions from our duty to God and fellow humans, Christian pet owners can navigate this aspect of modern life in a manner that honours Biblical wisdom and love for all creation.