Christians are allowed to eat meat (Genesis 9:1-5), although some choose not to (Romans 14). And under the Old Covenant, animal sacrifice was the way to follow God (Leviticus 1, for example). Yet, animals having to suffer and die at all is humans' fault - stemming directly from the Fall (Genesis 3, namely verse 21).
As Christians, what should our approach to animal life be? Today, I'm not seeking to get into the topic of eating them, but more along the lines of our general mindset.
Proverbs 12:10 says:
A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, But the compassion of the wicked is cruel.
This isn't merely a matter of Proverbs giving wisdom for life that generally applies - it is making a moral statement. Why is this such a big deal?
Well, in Matthew 10:29-31 Jesus teaches:
"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows."
Humans are far more important than animals - that is indisputable. Yet, God still cares for every aspect of His creation deeply - including the animals. If we seek to follow God, we must value animal life directly because He values it! After all, the entire point of salvation is to become more like Him (1 John 2:6 and Galatians 2:20, for example)!
Furthermore, Genesis 1:26-28 states:
Then God said, "Let Us [the Trinity - 1 God existing in 3 persons] make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
This is a commission from God for all mankind to rule over the animals on His behalf - and I am fully convinced that with this power comes the responsibility to treat the animals as God would treat them.
All this is why I get very angry when someone kills a non-dangerous, non-destructive animal when another option is available to remove it. Or when someone hunts for sport without putting the meat to use. Or when someone abuses their pet or mistreats their farm animal.
I'm not saying we should all be vegetarians (I'm not one!), and I'm not advocating ridiculous practices like some Eastern religions have where their entire lives are crippled by the fear of accidentally inhaling or stepping on a bug. I'm simply saying, let us treat God's creation with respect.
Note: Life has been really crazy lately, and will continue to be so for about the next month, due to some major life changes. So for a while, I'll be posting about once a week, probably on weekends. It won't all be topical like this - I plan to get back into Matthew next weekend.