People, Pups, and Priorities

From Issue: Discovery 6/1/2010

I have always loved dogs. I am thankful that God chose to create dogs. In my lifetime, I have owned several different dogs. I remember getting my first dog (a mixed-breed named Frosty) when I was four. I have fond memories of all the fun I had in middle school with my German Shepherd named Lady. I frequently recall the weird ways of Mitzy, the peculiar (but friendly) poodle I had when I was in high school and college.

I have fond memories of all of the dogs I’ve ever owned. My dogs kept me company when I was alone. They calmed me when I was stressed. They lifted my spirit when I was sad. Dogs can be wonderful animals to have around. They can be trained to do amazing things (check out the article on the back of this issue of Discovery). Aren’t you glad that God created animals that can be so helpful and enjoyable?

We need to be careful, however, not to think more of dogs than we should. Though dogs may be “man’s best friend,” we must keep in mind that dogs are just animals. They are not created in the “image of God” as humans are (Genesis 1:26-28), and they do not have an immortal soul as humans have (Matthew 10:28; Luke 16:19-31). Although we may become very attached to our dogs, we must keep in mind that the value of a dog in no way compares to that of a human.

Whereas many people seem to put their love and admiration for dogs on nearly the same level as their affection for people, God does not give these animals such value. One Bible encyclopedia called International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia summed up the Bible’s references to dogs in the following way: “References to the dog, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, are usually of a contemptuous character. A dog, and especially a dead dog, is used as a figure of insignificance.” Simply put, God does not attach great importance to dogs (or any animal for that matter).

As early as Genesis chapter one, God revealed that humans are on a higher level than the rest of God’s creation.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth….” Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:26,28).

Since the time of Adam and Eve, God gave His image-bearers (humans) the right to rule over all of the creation. Until Jesus returns and this world is burned up (2 Peter 3:10), God has given man permission to use His creation in order to survive and flourish. In addition to the rocks, minerals, and vegetation that God made for man’s benefit, God told Noah that all animals “are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (Genesis 9:2-3).

Man not only has been given permission from God to train and work animals, and to kill animals for clothing or sacrifices (Genesis 3:21; 4:4), but also to eat animals—including dogs. As hard as this is for some Americans to admit, dogs are every bit as much an animal as cows, chickens, and pigs. I once asked a friend of mine from Southeast Asia what his favorite food back home was. I’ll never forget his response. Without hesitating, he said: “black dog.”

In America, it is common to eat cows. In other countries (especially India), it can be offensive to eat cows. At the same time, the eating of dog meat is very common in certain cultures. In fact, some people raise dogs, like many Americans raise cows, for the sole purpose of selling them as meat. Though eating dogs might gross you out, in actuality there is nothing wrong with it.

Personally, I don’t plan on eating dog anytime soon. But, sometimes dog lovers like myself need to be reminded that even though dogs can make great pets, they are still just animals. They are a part of God’s creation that He gave for man to responsibly subdue, rule over, and, if need be (and as gross as this may sound to you), even eat.


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