I’m a vegetarian because I don’t believe in killing and eating animals. How come your God endorses the murder of living things?
Your sensitivity to the animal kingdom is shared by many people, including myself. Supporting individuals and organizations that work to rescue abused and neglected animals is a big part of my life (I would never own any pet other than a rescue or shelter animal.) But that deep love for all God’s creatures isn’t meant to eclipse God’s provision for us as outlined in the Bible. Animals are a gift from God for our companionship yes, but also for our food, clothing and shelter. Adam and Eve, for example, were given animal skins for clothing by God himself. He authorized those first deaths, which incidentally occurred in the animal kingdom for our benefit. Now, in accordance with Scripture, we are permitted by God to eat beasts and creatures for our health and wellness; to utilize their bones and skins. That said, compassionate, humane farming practices, including harvesting and butchering goes without saying. God is merciful and we must imitate his ways as we honor his creation.
“His creation” is the operative phrase here. Your decision not to participate in what God allows us to kill and eat is your prerogative, of course. He gave you the free will to decide. Yet when we rule out or discount Christianity as a result of our personal convictions or practices—when we declare that God’s decisions regarding his world or his statutes are somehow in error, we mistakenly believe that our vote counts. It’s his creation so he does what he wants with it! Rest assured he has just-reasons for everything he does.
No, God doesn’t sanction murder. He forbids it flatly in the sixth commandment: “You shall not murder”(Deuteronomy 5:17, NASB.) His ten commandments govern all of humanity and they are the blueprint for society, personal responsibility and self-control. Your attachment to animals and their rights is commendable. Yet applying God’s human rules to animals was never intended. Full disclosure: the human race was born into a vegetarian world where they feasted accordingly (Genesis 2.) However, that vegetarian system went haywire when sin and darkness fell upon the earth through disobedience (Genesis 3.) Death then entered the world and man began eating meat for food, wearing their skins, etc. That’s how we happened to eat meat and we continue to this day.
Did you know that the holiest object ever created on earth, the Ark of the Covenant, was protected by a covering of porpoise skin whenever it was moved? “When the camp sets out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and they shall take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it; and they shall lay a covering of porpoise skin on it, and shall spread over it a cloth of pure blue, and shall insert its poles” (Numbers 4:5, 6, NASB.) Clearly, the skin of this precious animal was highly prized and rare. Its value set it apart as a suitable covering for the Mercy Seat; a gilded box where God would sit and have meetings with Moses inside the tabernacle. This tabernacle, a tent-like worship structure, was mobile. God instructed his people to relocate it in various geographies over a period of time. Protecting the holy artifacts inside that sanctuary presented a problem during the moves, so God employed the use of dolphin skins. The dolphin was honored by God via its sacred function.
It is no different when we eat a steak. Our bodies need iron and protein in order to stay strong, healthy and energetic. God applies the sacrifice of that animal to our well-being. We are the only creatures made in God’s image, so he declared the earth under our kind management (Genesis 1:29.) The cow is a gift to us.
Your passion for God’s beautiful beasts is admirable. I pray your personal belief system makes room for God to speak to you. He has much to say. After all, he’s the one who made all the creatures in the first place.
Adrienne Greene pastors two Christian churches in southeastern Indiana. Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Please send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030.