Does God Want Us To Exploit Animals? A Religious Argument For Veganism

Although I am personally an agnostic atheist, I did not write this.

I got this post from Dawn Fenton on Facebook, but who originally wrote it up has been lost track of. If you know, please post here and I’ll give them credit. I’ve found that there are strong arguments by Christians and other people of faith for Veganism:

“First, it’s simply false to say that “animals were created in this world to act as a source of food.” Challenge your friend to re-read Genesis 1 and 2. In Genesis 1, God creates the cosmos, the sun and moon, all the plants, the animals and then creates man and woman in God’s “image and likeness” and gives them “dominion” over the other creatures, which incidentally, means something more like “responsible stewardship”, NOT “ruthless tyranny” (Ultimately the New Testament portrays Christ’s self-sacrificing love for the weak and marginalized as the true image of dominion).

Then, in Genesis 1:29, God says, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” Moreover, this vegetarian world is the arrangement that God calls “very good”. (Contrast this to the depiction of the world after the fall of man, in Genesis 6 where violence fills the earth and God is “sorry he made man”).

So, if the Bible does not say that animals were created to be used as food for humans, then what is the purpose of animals? Have your friend read Genesis 2: “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name” – Genesis 2:18-19

Here, the Bible seems to suggest that animals were created for companionship and communion with humans. So, the Bible is unequivocal about the original purpose of animals: animals are not created by God as food for humans, but to be companions, and friends of humans. Furthermore, while the Bible does give a reluctant concession to the human lust for flesh (Genesis 9:4), this is only after we are told sin and death enter the world, after the whole of creation itself becomes “fallen”.

Paul says, in Romans 8, that all of creation is “groaning in pain” awaiting it’s ultimate redemption. Ultimately, the Bible is clear, meat-eating has no place in the fully redeemed creation of God: prophetic visions of the eschatological kingdom of God, like those of Isaiah 11:6-9, 65:25; Hosea 2:18; and Revelation 5:13-14 are clear that animals have a place in the redeemed creation, and that there will be a return to the peace between species as depicted in Genesis 1:29.

Now, all of this may be religious symbolism, of course, but it illustrates the point that the Bible sees vegetarianism as the ideal, and sees meat-eating as part of a way of life that stands judged by God and is passing away. So, far from being a “sin”, as far as the Bible is concerned, vegetarianism is the ideal, while meat-eating is a reluctant concession (to need, or to sin) at best.

Finally there are a number of biblical passages relevant to the question of how Christians are to regard non-human animals: God has compassion on animals and is good to them (Psalm 145:49), preserves them (Psalm 36:6), provides for them (Psalm 104:10-14; Matthew 6:26), satisfies their desires (Psalm 145:16), Is concerned for their well-being (Jonah 4:11; Matthew 10:29). God warns that “your destruction of animals will terrify you” (Habakkuk 2:17), creates a covenantal promise to ensure the continuation of animal life (Genesis 9:8-17, and promises a future covenant in which animals are guaranteed safety (Hosea 2:18).

The torah (first five books of the Bible) encourages us to spare animals psychological and emotional grief (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21), bids us to alleviate animal suffering (Deuteronomy 22:4; Exodus 23:5; Matthew 12:11; Luke 14:5), advises us against causing animals unnecessary hardships (Deuteronomy 22:10), cautions us against inflicting unnecessary pain on animals (Numbers 22:32; Genesis 49:6-7), to feed and care for (even wild) animals (Exodus 23:11; Genesis 24:32, 33:13), encourages us (contrary to factory farming and battery cages) to respect the natural desires of animals (Deuteronomy 25:4). Proverbs states that the righteous care for the needs of their animals (Prov 12:10).

The Bible recognizes that animals suffer pain, fear, and anxiety (Romans 8:22; Joel 1:18; Genesis 9:2; Psalm 104:29; Joel 2:22), teaches that animals posses a soul (nephesh in Hebrew, psyche in Greek), that animals, like humans, give praise to God (Psalm 148:7-10, 150:6), and will be present in the eternal state (Isaiah 65:25; Revelation 5:13-14). And finally, the Bible is clear that the redemptive purposes of God include both human and nonhuman animals (Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:20; Psalm 36:6).

So while, theologian Andrew Linzey may be right when he states that many “Christians haven’t got much further than thinking that the whole world was made for us, with the result that animals are only seen in an instrumental way as objects, machines, tools, and commodities, rather than fellow creatures,” there are more than enough resources within the Christian theological tradition (including the Bible) to support his further claim that: “Animals are God’s creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God’s sight. … Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God’s absolute identification with the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering.”

In my opinion, there is one argument that perfectly sums up the question of why we should not harm nonhuman animals, regardless of what it may say in the bible. “If God wanted us to harm nonhuman animals, why did he create them to feel pain or fear? Why not just make them happy to be slaughtered?”

Here are some more religious arguments:

Sub-Section 1B8:
Religious Arguments For Veganism:

“Why Animals Matter: A Religious and Philosophical Perspective”
http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/Why_Animals_Matter_A%20Religious_Philosophical_Perspective_Philosophy_Quotations.htm

“Would Jesus Eat Meat Today?”:
http://www.all-creatures.org/cva/WJEMT-Jan10.pdf

“The Christian Basis for Veganism”:
http://freefromharm.org/veganism/christian-basis-veganism

Francis Of Paola on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_of_Paola

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

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4 thoughts on “Does God Want Us To Exploit Animals? A Religious Argument For Veganism

  1. Pingback: Master List Of Vegan Info | The Legacy Of Pythagoras

  2. Pingback: Jesus Is Not A Justification For Living Non-Vegan | The Legacy Of Pythagoras

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