Pets or People
Updated: Jan 2, 2020
People can be jerks, and most of us have had moments when we wished some people were more like our faithful pets. Yet despite the fact that we sometimes prefer our four-footed friends to our two-footed ones, studies still show that most of us would save the life of a human over that of an animal.[i]
This is certainly proper, for from a Biblical viewpoint, the life of a human being is definitely more valuable than that of an animal. After all:
“[God] made [man] a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psalms 8:5; Hebrews 2:7)
God Himself placed man in an elevated position, and then when He later gave civil law to man, He reaffirmed that human life was to be placed above that of animals.
For example, Exodus 21 requires that if someone knows their ox is dangerous, and it kills another person, then the owner of the ox is sentenced to death because he was responsible for the death of another person. But if a dangerous ox kills another ox, then the owner only needs to pay for the dead animal. Thus, God made clear that humans are of more value and worth than animals.
However, this hierarchy of humans above pets does not preclude us from loving our pets and being compassionate toward animals. After all, the Scripture affirms that the “righteous has regard for the life of his beast” (Proverbs 12:20). The New York state legislature recently demonstrated this compassion towards animals when it passed a bill banning the declawing of cats[ii] because of the needless pain it causes by removing bones in their toe.[iii]
But then in a blatant perversion of the established hierarchy of human value, the New York legislature also passed a bill allowing unborn babies to be aborted in the third trimester of pregnancy,[iv] when the child is the same age as a "preemie” (a shortened term for “premature baby”).[v] These babies can not only survive outside the mother’s womb but also have a fully developed ability to feel the pain of dying.[vi]
The laws passed by the New York legislature protect the physical comfort of cats more than the actual lives of the youngest members of our own kind. If we have more compassion for non-lethal pain inflicted on animals than lethal pain inflicted on helpless humans, what kind of future do we as a people have?
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[i] Dr. Hal Herzog, "Would You Save a Puppy or a Child From a Burning Building?," Psychology Today, (June 17 2013), https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animals-and-us/201306/would-you-save-puppy-or-child-burning-building
[ii] "A01303," New York State Assembly, (June 04, 2019), https://nyassembly.gov/leg/?default_fld=&leg_video=&bn=A01303&term=0&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y
[iii] AJ Willingham, "New York will become the first state to ban cat declawing," CNN, (June 4, 2019), https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/04/us/cat-declawing-bill-new-york-state-trnd/index.html
[iv] Angelo Fichera, "Addressing New York’s New Abortion Law," FactCheck.org, (February 4, 2019), https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/A1748
[v] Dr. William C. Shiel, "Medical Definition of Premature baby," MedicineNet, (December 11, 2018), https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11894