Report: Animal Rights

Animal Liberation Movement



Part 1. The Distinction between Men and Animals

Part 2: Human Use of Animals

Part 3. May People Kill and Eat Animals and Animal Products?

Part 4: Religious and Moral Views of Animal Rights





The Animal Liberation Movement: Should Animals Have Rights Like Humans?

(A Christian Response)


What does the Animal Liberation Movement believe about the rights of animals, and how do their beliefs compare to the Bible? Should animals have rights, or should people own and use animals as property? Are people superior to animals? Are we in the image of God, so we have dominion over them? May we wear clothing made from leather and fur? What about hunting, trapping, and farming? Should we eat meat, fish, or poultry? How do groups like PETA view the Bible and Christianity? Should a Christian believe in Animal Rights?




The animal rights or animal liberation movement is frequently mentioned in the news. It influences many people and organizations, especially government, schools, and businesses. The purpose of this study is to examine the real, fundamental beliefs and goals of the animal rights movement, comparing them to the Bible.


Organizations and leaders of the movement


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with more than seven hundred thousand members, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. Founded in 1980, PETA is dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals - PETA web site.


PETA has acted as spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), an international underground organization that was founded in England. ALF has claimed responsibility for numerous raids and break-ins in the United States beginning in 1979. It reportedly liberates animals being used for entertainment, food, clothing, or experimental research. ALF has also allegedly issued personal threats to animal researchers and has allegedly set fires, defaced property, destroyed equipment, planted fake bombs, and stolen research videotapes - Clifford Sherry, Animal Rights: A Reference Handbook, pp xi, xii.


[The] books, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals, by Peter Singer, and The Case for Animal Rights, by Thomas Regan, provide the philosophical basis for the modern animal rights movement -  Sherry, p3.


Basic views of the movement and its leaders


Like most liberation movements (women’s liberation, children’s liberation, etc.), the animal rights movement keeps private its most fundamental beliefs. Publicly it emphasizes views likely to arouse sympathy and acceptance, focusing on extreme abuses. To learn its fundamental beliefs one must dig into communications of sympathizers.


Basic views


* The basic belief of animal rights activists is “that all human use of animals should stop immediately” - Sherry, p xi.


* “PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment” - PETA web site.


* “Other PETA sites” specify that they oppose wearing anything from animals, including fur or leather. They oppose all experimentation on animals for medical or any other purposes. They oppose all eating of animal products including, not just meat, fish, and chicken, but also eggs, milk, and dairy products. They advocate complete vegetarianism. They oppose all use of animals in entertainment, including zoos, circuses, rodeos, and movies. (See list of web sites on PETA site.) But there is much more.


* Many people think PETA is an animal welfare agency, like a humane shelter, seeking simply to protect animals from mistreatment. Animal rights advocates completely reject such views, referring to them as merely “animal welfare.” “Animal welfare” would sacrifice animal interests to achieve justifiable “human benefits.” But animal liberation views animals as having rights, which cannot be sacrificed regardless of the benefit to humans - FAQ from PETA web site.


* Ingrid Newkirk, a founder of PETA, said: “Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals” - Vogue, 9/89 (via Sherry, p xiii).


* Alex Pacheco, also a PETA founder, said: “We feel that animals have the same rights as a retarded human child” - New York Times, 1/14/89 (via Sherry, p. xiii).


* Extremists in the movement go still further. ALF member Tim Daley says the animal rights struggle is like a war, so “you have to take up arms and people will get killed” - Sherry, p xiv.




So you cannot “own” an animal any more than you would “own” a person - that would be slavery. You cannot use an animal against its will for any purpose any more than you would a person. You cannot keep an animal captive for any reason, not even as a “pet,” any more than you would keep a person captive as a pet.


So the old question, “Am I a man or a mouse?” is appropriate to ask animal liberators! They see a man as essentially no different from a mouse: “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” A mouse should be treated by the same rules as a man, so Animal Liberators do not know the difference between a man and a mouse!


Animal liberation was unheard of before the 1970’s. It could thrive only in an urban society, where children grow up thinking meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and milk just come from the store.


For example, a man told me his wife objected to his hunting for meat; she wanted to just buy their meat at the store. Either way the meat comes from an animal that had to be killed!


In our rural society, prior to the 1950’s, most people hunted or grew up on farms or personally knew people who did. They witnessed animals being raised for food and clothing as a necessary and important part of life. Only a change to an urban society could lead people to think otherwise.


An issue of morality and ethics - right and wrong


As a matter of personal opinion or preference, many of us might agree with some animal rights views. We may oppose some extreme forms of animal abuse. We may prefer a vegetarian diet for health or other reasons. We may promote animal welfare, as secondary to human welfare. But none of that is the issue here.


The essential point is that animal rights groups say all these are issues of morality and ethics - right or wrong. Note some quotations from PETA web sites (emphasis added):


* PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. (“Ethical” by definition refers to “principles of morality; pertaining to right or wrong conduct.”)


* “From a moral standpoint, actions that harm others are not matters of personal choice. Murder, child abuse, and cruelty to animals are all immoral.”


* “The point is not whether animal experimentation can be useful to animals or humans; the point is that we do not have the moral right to inflict unnecessary suffering on those who are at our mercy.”


* “Most of us would agree that harming a dog or cat is unethical -- unChristian even ... harming any living being, including cows, chickens, pigs, and fishes, is equally immoral.”


* “Humans are playing God with animals, and ethical people should have no part in it.”


* “... eating animals, war, slavery, polygamy, animal sacrifice, and other practices that most people find immoral...”


* “...actions that are inherently unchristian...”


So real animal liberators see opposing viewpoints, not as personal choice, but as unethical, immoral, playing God, unChristian, and morally wrong. They liken such views to murder, child abuse, war, and polygamy. That is the position we examine here.


The standard of authority


The real leaders of the animal rights movement acknowledge that their views are not based on the Bible.


Some adherents claim Bible authority for their views, but the philosophical leaders make no such claim.


Singer and Regan, who wrote the main books defending animal rights, both “base their positions on modern secular reasons and eschew arguments based on religious suppositions” - Sherry, p4.


Singer subtitled his book “A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals.” If it is “new,” then it is not the Biblical ethic, which has been here for thousands of years.


So animal liberation is a view of morality based on human wisdom, not on religion or the Bible.


Bible believers reject human wisdom and recognize the Bible as the only standard of right and wrong.


2 Timothy 3:16,17 - The Scriptures inspired by God instruct in righteousness and provide to all good works.

Jeremiah 10:23 - The way of man is not in himself.

Proverbs 14:12 - Ways that seem right to man end up in death.

Galatians 1:8,9 - Any doctrine different from the gospel is accursed.

2 John 9-11 - If we don’t abide in Christ’s doctrine, we have not God.


Bible inspiration is validated by fulfilled prophecy, eyewitness testimony of miracles and the resurrection, etc. But examining that evidence is beyond the scope of this study.


Human wisdom contradicts the Bible, but animal liberation is based on human wisdom. So we should expect animal liberation to contradict Biblical teaching on many basic points.


[Colossians 3:17; 1 Cor. 1:18-25; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13 Matthew 15:9,13; Prov. 3:5,6]


Part 1. The Distinction between Men and Animals


Do animals have rights like people do, or are humans superior to animals? Are we created in the image of God, so we have dominion over animals?


Part 2: Human Use of Animals


May people own, control, and confine animals? May we use them as property? May we make clothing from leather and fur? What about hunting, fishing, trapping, and farming?


Part 3: May People Kill and Eat Animals and Animal Products?


Is it moral and ethical for people to eat meat, fish, and poultry? What about eggs and dairy products? Was Jesus a vegetarian? Does the Bible permit meat eating or does it require vegetarianism?


Part 4: Religious and Moral Views of Animal Rights


How do PETA and Animal Liberation leaders view religion and the Bible? Is the Bible an infallible, absolute standard of morals and ethics, or should we follow man-made morality and ethical views?




Part 1. The Distinction between Men and Animals


If men and animals are fundamentally the same in nature, then we would expect animals to have the same rights as men. But if men are fundamentally different from animals, then we should expect different rules to apply.


I. The View of Animal Rights


Animal Liberation sees little essential difference between men and animals. This, of course, is a consequence of believing that men evolved from animals.


Note some quotations


* Animal rights leader Peter Singer argued that differences between species are as irrelevant morally as differences between races or sexes (Sherry, p4). So the fact an animal is a different species should not affect how we treat them, any more than the fact a person may be a different race or a different gender. So to parallel racism and sexism, human dominance of animals is called “specism”!


* Singer objects to the term “animal,” because it implies animals are somehow different from humans (Sherry, p4). Just as the feminists revised our language to remove distinctions between the sexes, Animal Liberators want to revise our language to remove all distinctions between us and animals,.


* “Helping animals is not any more or less important than helping human beings...” - PETA FAQ.


* Remember, Ingrid Newkirk, a founder of PETA, said:


“Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals” - Vogue, 9/89 (via Sherry, p xiii).


* Alex Pacheco, also a PETA founder, said: “We feel that animals have the same rights as a retarded human child” - New York Times, 1/14/89 (via Sherry, p. xiii).


Note how they “answer” nearly every opposing argument by assuming animals should be treated like humans.


* “Would you allow an experiment that would sacrifice 10 animals to save 10,000 people?” Suppose the only way to save those 10,000 people was to experiment on one mentally-challenged orphan... Most people will agree that it is wrong to sacrifice one human for the “greater good” of others ... Yet there is no logical reason to deny animals the same rights that protect individual humans from being sacrificed for the common good - PETA FAQ.


* “If you were starving on a boat at sea, and there were an animal on the boat, would you eat the animal?” I don’t know. Humans will go to extremes to save their own lives, even if it means hurting someone innocent. (People have even killed and eaten other people in such situations.) - PETA FAQ


* “‘If you were in a fire and could save only your child or your dog, whom would you choose?’ I would save my child, but that’s just instinct. A dog would save her pup” - PETA FAQ.


Note how they repeatedly make humans and animals equivalent.


How far does this go?


* They criticize the Animal Welfare Act because it “does not include rats and mice... [or] cold-blooded animals...” - PETA FAQ. So rats and mice, snakes and frogs (cold-blooded animals) should all have rights.


* “When asked whether his concept of animal rights included the protection of insects or rodents, [Peter Singer] replied: ‘I wouldn’t kill a spider if I can avoid killing a spider...’” - CultureFacts, 7/19/2002.


This thinking appears over and over again and is fundamental to their whole philosophy. This error is fundamentally the same as Oriental religions like Hinduism, which honors cows, rats, and insects because of reincarnation. Like animal liberation, they fail to see the distinction between people and animals.


II. The Bible Teaching


A. Humans Have a Stewardship over Animals.


The Bible does not justify unnecessary cruelty to animals, not because animals have rights, but because humans have responsibilities.


Both men and animals were created by God and belong to God.


Genesis 1:20,21,24-27 - God created the fish, birds, land animals, creeping things, and people.


Psalms 50:10,11 - The beasts, the cattle, and the birds all belong to God, as do the people.


Jeremiah 27:5 - God said He made the earth and the men and beasts upon it.


So men and animals share some things in common. One is that we were all made by and belong to God.


God cares and provides for the animals and the people.


Psalms 36:6 - God preserves man and beast.


Psalms 104:14 - He causes food to grow for men and cattle.


Matthew 6:26-30 - God feeds the birds and clothes the plants. Likewise, He will clothe and feed people.


Matthew 10:29 - God knows if even a sparrow falls to the ground.


So God cares and provides for both man and animals. Why? Because they belong to Him! He cares for them for the same reasons that a man cares for and protects things that he made and that belong to him. The owner has rights over that which he owns.


Does God’s care and provision for animals prove they have rights like men do? He also cares and provides for the plants (see Matt. 6). Do plants have rights? Instead of comparing animals to men, why not compare them to plants, since God also cares for plants?


Neither men nor animals nor plants have rights except as given them by God, who created and owns them. We will see that the Bible clearly teaches that God has given men certain rights. Where does the Bible say He has given rights to animals?


[Genesis 1:30; Psalms 147:9]


God commands people to properly care for animals


Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15 - Having created all things, God put man in charge over the animals and the earth. Specifically, man was to take care of the plants in the garden. [Psalms 8:4-8]


Deuteronomy 25:4 - An ox that treads grain should be allowed to eat. The New Testament explains that this was his pay for his work (1 Tim. 5:17,18). [Isaiah 30:24]


Deuteronomy 5:14 - Working animals should rest on the Sabbath as surely as the people do.


Proverbs 12:10 - A righteous man regards the life of his beast.


Luke 14:5 - When an animal is endangered, its owner should help and protect it.


Psalms 23:1-4; John 10:1-15; Luke 15:3-7 - Probably the best example of men caring for animals would be shepherds. They knew each sheep individually, led them to food and water, protected them from enemies, and sought for them if they went astray. [Psalms 78:52; Isaiah 40:11; Ezek. 34:11,12]


Does the fact we are responsible to care for animals prove they have rights like we do? Again, we are responsible to care for plants and for the whole earth. Do plants have rights? Do the rocks and the dirt have rights? We are stewards over them too!


We should care for animals and plants, not because they have rights but because we have responsibilities. It is a stewardship. Both they and we belong to God, and He commands us to take care of them.


We should care for animals, not because of the nature of the animals, but because of the will of God who created and rules over all! If the animals belong to God and we are stewards over them, then we are responsible to use and care for them however God says we should.


Question: Why doesn’t God command the animals to take care of the people? If animals are as important as we are and have the same rights we have, then why shouldn’t they take care of us as much as the other way around? Questions like this one demonstrate that animal liberation involves a fundamentally wrong view of the nature of animals, which leads them to false conclusions about how animals should be treated.


B. Humans Are Distinct from and Superior to Animals.


Men are created in the image of God; animals are not.


Genesis 1:26-28


After He created all the animals (vv 21-25), God then created man. Man was made in God’s image and likeness. This is never said of the animals. This teaching is based entirely on the concept of God as Creator and Ruler. It completely contradicts all evolutionary thinking, including animal liberation. [5:1; James 3:9]


This is the most basic issue in this study! If people were created fundamentally different from animals - if we partake of the character of God in ways that animals do not - then all the animal liberation arguments paralleling treatment of animals to treatment of men are false!


Genesis 9:2-6


God distinguishes between killing a man and killing an animal. Killing a man is basically wrong and should be punished, but this is not true of killing an animal. And the reason for this is that men are in the image of God. Killing or harming a man is different from killing or harming an animal, because the nature of man is fundamentally different from the nature of animals.


This demonstrates the error in comparing man’s treatment of animals to treatment of other human races or genders. People of other races or the opposite sex are still people in the image of God. They deserve full treatment as humans. But that is not true of animals. The basic error of animal rights is that it fails to recognize that man is fundamentally different in nature from animals: men are in the image of God, but animals are not! All other arguments relate back to this one.


Men have intelligence incomparably beyond that of animals.


Job 35:10,11 - We know more than the beasts and are wiser than the birds, because God so created us.


Psalms 32:9 - Horses and mules have no understanding. So foolish are they that, in order to be useful, they must be controlled by bit and bridle.


Psalms 73:22 - The Bible uses the conduct of brute beasts to illustrate foolishness and ignorance.


Hosea 7:11 - To express the ultimate of senseless ignorance, God compares Ephraim to a silly dove.


God uses animals as the ultimate examples of foolishness. This is not to say animals have no intelligence at all. We are sometimes amazed by what they understand, but only in comparison to other animals. When men use the good sense God gave them, animals cannot compare.


This is part of what it means to be in the image of God. While we can never be as intelligent as God, yet we share with God a kind of intelligence that animals can simply never achieve.


[Daniel 4:16; 5:21; Proverbs 26:11; 2 Peter 2:22; Num. 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; Matt. 9:36]


Men have the power to choose right from wrong and so are morally accountable to be judged for their choices.


Men are morally accountable and will be judged.


Genesis 2:16,17; 1 Corinthians 15:21 - God gave instructions to man (not animals) about eating of the trees in the garden. Man’s disobedience brought death into the world. What animal could understand such a choice, or bring such a consequence on itself or on the world by a wrong choice? [3:1-7]


Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 - The whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commands, for God will judge every work, good or bad. Man is capable of understanding and obeying God’s commands. This is the purpose of our existence, and we will be judged accordingly.


Matthew 12:36 - Every word that men speak they will give account for in the judgment. Will animals give account for the words they speak?


Acts 17:30,31 - God commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day to judge them. Repentance is a choice. Man can be commanded to make that choice and will be judged for it.


Hebrews 9:27 - It is appointed to man once to die and after this the judgment. Where does the Bible say animals will be judged for their lives?


[Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Cor. 5:10; Joshua 24:15; Hebrews 11:25; 1 Kings 18:21; Psalm 119:30]


Animals are not morally accountable. Men who degrade themselves to practice evil are compared to animals.


Matthew 7:6 - Dogs and pigs are used as examples of those who have no sense of spiritual values. [Phil. 3:2; 2 Kings 8:12,13]


Proverbs 26:3 - When men act as foolishly as animals act, they deserve to be punished and treated like animals.


Matthew 23:33; 12:34 - Men who speak and practice evil are compared to a brood of snakes. [Matthew 3:7]


Acts 20:29,30 - False teachers are compared to wolves that destroy a flock of sheep. [Matt. 7:15; 10:16; 1 Peter 5:8]


Titus 1:12,13 - Men who are lazy liars are compared to evil beasts. Beasts will not be judged for their lives, but they often may do things that would be evil if men did them.


Jude 10 - When people act like brute beasts, they corrupt themselves. [2 Peter 2:12]


Some people use the conduct of animals as justification for certain human conduct, as though animals are the standard of right and wrong! (One actress justified Bill Clinton’s womanizing by saying that’s how gorilla leaders act.) It used to be that comparing people to “brute beasts” was an insult to describe disgusting, uncivilized conduct, and that’s how the Bible still views it.


Men by nature are in the image of God and therefore above animals. But when men corrupt themselves, they lower themselves to the level of animals. Animals cannot help themselves; they are not morally accountable. But men are accountable; so when they act like animals, they deserve to be punished. And clearly animal conduct does not constitute a standard of good conduct for humans!


Rights and responsibilities go together. Men are granted rights by God, because He made us capable of exercising moral judgment and accepting moral responsibilities. Specifically, we have the right or freedom to choose to be good or evil, but we will be held accountable for the choice. Animals do not have these responsibilities, therefore they do not have the rights and will not be judged for their choices. Until animals are able to accept human responsibilities, they cannot have human rights!


God requires men, not animals, to be taught His laws.


Because man is morally accountable and capable of understanding written commands, God requires that all people be taught His laws. He has written them in the Bible for men to study. This is not true of animals.


Nehemiah 8:1-8 - Ezra and others read the law of God and explained it so people could understand. They taught all who could hear with understanding (vv 2,3). But this included only people, men and women - vv 1,2,3,7.


Psalms 94:12 - Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law. Where are such things said about teaching God’s law to animals?


Luke 20:1; John 8:2 - Jesus taught people.


Acts 11:26 - The church assembled and taught a great many people, not animals.


Colossians 1:28 - Paul’s goal was to preach about Christ, warning every man and teaching every man to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.


2 Timothy 3:16,17 - The Scriptures are profitable for teaching and instruction to equip the man of God to every good work.


Animals may accomplish God’s will for them by means of inborn instincts, and they may be trained by men to do work or tricks, etc. In that sense plants, rocks, and lakes also accomplish God’s will, but should they have rights? Man is the only creature to whom God has written a book of instructions. Why? Because only people are in the image of God. Only people have the intelligence to understand the law of God, and only people are morally accountable to obey it.


[2 Chron. 17:9; Ezek. 44:23; Isaiah 2:3; 1 Kings 8:36; Deut. 4:10; Acts 4:2; 5:25; 18:25]


Men have eternal spirits and eternal destinies; animals do not.


Job 32:8 - There is a spirit in man.


Ecclesiastes 3:21 - The spirit of man goes upward, but the spirit of a beast goes down to the earth. Animals have a spirit in the sense of animal life, but it does not continue past death.


Isaiah 31:3 - Just as men are not God, so horses are flesh and not spirit.


Zechariah 12:1 - God forms the spirit of man within him. [1 Cor. 2:11; Heb. 12:23]


Romans 2:6-10 - Speaking to men (vv 1,3), God promises to render to each according to His deeds, good or evil. Punishment is for “every soul of man” who does evil, Jew or Greek. Eternal life is for those who do good. The judgment of men will lead to eternal destinies.


2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1 - We have an inner man that can receive eternal glory, even though the outer man decays. Can this be said of animals?


Hebrews 4:9 - There remains a rest for the people of God. What passage promises such a rest for animals?


We already learned that only people will be judged for their lives, but that judgment is where eternal destinies will be decreed (see also Matt. 25:31-45). Animals will not be judged, therefore they have no eternal rewards or punishments.


All this follows from the fact man is in the image of God. Like God we have the power to make moral choices, and we are responsible for those choices. We have spirits that will exist forever, and our destiny will be determined by our choices. None of this is true of animals. We are fundamentally different from animals because God chose to create us so.


Men have much greater value to God than do animals.


Because God created men in His image, we are more important and valuable to Him than any animals. This is not a human invention or choice; it is the decree of the Creator.


Matthew 6:26 - God feeds the birds, but of people He says, “Are you not of more value than they?”


Matthew 10:29-31 - God cares for sparrows, even though they are of relatively little value. Yet one human is of greater value than many sparrows.


Matthew 15:26 - Jesus said it is not good to throw the children’s bread to the dogs. Why not? If animals have equal rights with people, why do they not have equal right to be fed? Animals are not as valuable as people, and this should be reflected in how we distribute food.


Matthew 12:11,12 - Jesus said that, if a sheep falls into a pit, his owner would lift him out. “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?” We should care for the animals that belong to us. But both God and man should treat people much better than they do animals.


Animal Rights activists often condemn forms of treatment of animals, because it would be wrong to treat people that way. In contrast, God says that man deserves much better treatment than animals, because man is of much greater value than animals.


Those who equate animals to men may think they are increasing the importance of animals, but instead they are degrading the value of man. Animals can be incredibly cruel, violent, and vicious - just watch the nature shows on TV! If men become convinced they are no better than animals, they will soon treat one another like animals!


[1 Samuel 24:14; Job 30:1,29; Psalms 22:16]


Men have dominion over animals


Genesis 1:26-28 - Because man is in God’s image, man has dominion over all animals and over all the earth. This includes the right to subdue the earth - to control it for man’s purposes.


Genesis 9:2-6 - Because man is in God’s image, no one has the right to murder man. But man does have the right to kill animals for food. “They are given into your hand” (v2). [Lev. 24:18,21]


Psalms 8:4-7 - Man is crowned with glory and honor, placed just a little below the angels. He has dominion over all animals. All things are under man’s feet. Man has the right to control the animals.


Psalms 32:9 - Man’s dominion over animals includes the right to harness them by bit and bridle. Man has the right to use and control animals for the benefit of man.


James 3:3,7 - Again, we put bits in horse’s mouth so that they obey us. We tame every kind of beast. Man is in control. Animals should obey us.


Note that God says man has dominion over animals. Does the Bible say that animals have dominion over men? If not, then how can anyone truthfully claim that animals have rights like men have? Here is one right they definitely do not have: we have the right to control them, but they do not have the right to control us!


None of this justifies harming animals simply for the sake of man’s cruel or vicious whims. We earlier learned that animals belong to God, so we must use them as He says. But God says that He has given us dominion over animals, so we can use them to meet our needs. This includes the right to control them, make them obey us, tame them, and eat them for food.


To compare man’s use of animals to slavery of humans is to pervert God’s order. Other men are our equals, but animals are below us in authority, value, intelligence, spiritual nature, and moral responsibility. Above all, we are in God’s image and they are not.


It follows that, to seek to “liberate” animals from men, is to rebel against God. God Himself placed the animals under our dominion. Animal Liberation inherently constitutes open defiance of God’s order in creation!


[Prov. 26:3; Luke 10:19; 1 Sam. 16:11; Gen. 4:2]


Jesus died to save men, not animals.


This is the ultimate proof that animals are not equal in nature or in worth to men.


Isaiah 53:5,8 - Jesus bore our punishment. He was stricken “for the transgressions of my people.”


Romans 5:6-9 - One is not likely to give his life for another man (v7). Yet Christ died for us (people), while we were sinners.


Romans 5:12,18,19 - Through the sin of one man (Adam), sin and condemnation came on all men. So through the righteous act of one Man (Jesus), the free gift of justification came to all men.


1 Timothy 2:4-6 - God wants all men to be saved. Jesus is our ransom, who came as a man (not an animal), so He could serve as mediator between God and man (not between God and animals).


Titus 2:11,12 - The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men - not animals.


Titus 3:3-7 - We once were disobedient living in sin. But the kindness of God toward man appeared, so He saved us through Jesus and made us heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


Hebrews 2:14-17 - In order to release us from the power of sin and Satan, Jesus had to be made like us in all things - He had to come to earth in our form. He was made like us, so that he could make propitiation for the sins of the people - v17.


Note that He did not come to aid angels (v16), so He did not come as an angel. It follows that He did not take the form of an animal, because He did not come to save animals!


Do animals have the right to be saved by the blood of Jesus? Should animals be taught the gospel of Christ, so they can believe it, repent of sins, confess Christ, and be baptized for remission of sins? If animals do not have the right to obey the gospel and be saved by Jesus’ blood, then no one can truthfully argue that animals have the same rights as man!


Here is the fundamental proof that animals do not have the same rights as man, and it is based on the fundamental differences that God established between men and animals. Each person has an eternal spirit, because we are made in God’s image. We have intelligence to understand God’s will and be accountable to live according to His standard of right and wrong. As a result, we are so important God sent His only Son to die for us. All of this distinguishes us from animals.


[1 Cor. 1:23,24; Rom. 6:5-7; Gal. 1:28; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 2:14-17; Revelation 5:9]


Conclusion to Part I


Only God inherently has rights. As Creator and Ruler of the Universe, He is in charge. People have rights, not because we earned them or inherently deserve them, but because God the Creator chose to give them to us! We would have no rights, except for His decree. Indeed, “we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.” Where does the Bible say God gave rights to animals?


God gave us power to use everything on earth for our benefit according to His will. Air, sunshine, water, soil, plants, and animals all have great value to man, because they are useful to meet our needs.


In accord with God’s command, men protect many animals, raise, feed, and provide for them, because they are valuable to us for food, clothing, etc. If man has no right to own or use animals, then animals would be of less value to us than plants that we can raise and eat, and less value than a plot of dirt on which we can build a house or grow food.


The result of the animal rights movement would be to make all animals into pests like rats, flies, mosquitoes, roaches, and other vermin. They would eat our food, invade our property, and endanger our livelihood, but would have no value to us whatever. We could not use them in any way for our good, and we could not even kill them, unless they threatened our lives. The result would make every animal worthless to us at best and an enemy at worst. This does not increase the value of animals; it degrades them and perverts God’s purpose for them.




Part 2: Human Use of Animals


A basic teaching of animal rights is that men have no more right to own, use, confine, harm, or kill animals for their own purposes than they have to do such things to human beings. Note specific areas of concern.


I. May People Possess or Use Animals as Property?


A. The View of Animal Rights


* Animal rights activists believe “that all human use of animals should stop immediately” - Sherry, p xi.


* “If we have dominion over animals, surely it is to protect them, not to use them for our own ends” - PETA FAQ.


* Ingrid Newkirk, a PETA founder, said “...the act of confinement is traumatizing in itself.”


* They quote with approval “Rev.” Andrew Linzey who said, “Animals are God’s creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities...” - JesusVeg FAQ. But remember, plants, lakes, and rocks are God’s creatures too. Does that prove they too should not be human property or resources, etc.?


* And remember their basic premise that is, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” Animals should be treated as we would treat a retarded human child.


So they claim humans must never in any form own or possess animals as property or wealth. We must not confine them, as in cages, barns, or fields; they must be as free as humans to roam where they will. We must not ride them or make them pull plows or wagons or otherwise compel them to work, since this involves using, owning, and confining them. We would not treat humans in this way.


We must never in any way use them for our purposes against their will, but may only “protect” them. This means animals can have their cake and eat it too: we are responsible to work for their benefit, but they have no responsibility to do anything for us!


While animal activists rarely admit it, they must conclude that we could not even make pets of animals, if this involved owning or confining them. Instead animals should be viewed as our “companions” or “friends,” and efforts are being made to put such language into law. But you do not own or confine a friend, nor can you compel someone to be your friend.


Animal activists prefer to attack extreme abuses, so they usually do not openly publicize all of these conclusions. Yet all this follows from their arguments, and most leaders of the movement accept these conclusions.


B. The Teaching of the Bible


The dominion mandate authorizes control and possession of animals.


Genesis 1:26-28 - From creation man was given dominion over all animals. Animal liberation argues this means men should just protect the animals, but dominion involves much more. Note further Bible teaching.


Genesis 9:1,2 - Animals are “given” into our hand by God Himself. This implies possession and the power of owners to control and use animals for our purposes (v3).


Psalms 8:4-7 - God explains man’s dominion over animals: it means they are put under man’s feet. This is a position of absolute submission, not just voluntary service.


Divine approval of owning and confining animals


Exodus 21:28,29 - If an ox is known to gore, its owner must keep it confined. God expressly approves ownership and confinement of animals. [vv 35,36]


Deuteronomy 22:1-4 - You must return anything you find which belongs to your brother and he has lost. This includes animals as well as garments or anything else. So animals are property to be kept like a garment or any other possession. God expressly condoned owning animals. He also condoned confining them so they are not at liberty to “go astray.”


It follows from these passages that, when people, like some Animal Liberation advocates, take people’s animals and release them against the owner’s will, they are doing wrong, not right.


1 Samuel 12:3 - Samuel said that, if he had improperly taken anyone’s ox or donkey, he would restore it. So property, including animals, may be owned and godly people respect the rights of people who own animals. This is doing right, not wrong.


Job 1:3 - Job’s flocks were part of his “possessions” which demonstrated his wealth. Yet he was not evil but blameless and upright and shunned evil (v1). Satan took them away, but God blessed Job by restoring more than he had before (42:12).


Isaiah 1:3 - The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib, but God’s people (“my people”) did not know their owner (God). Note that people own animals and are their masters like God owns us and is our Master. Surely this is not just protection; it is the right of possession and use and work.


[Gen. 24:35; Deut. 7:13; 28:4; Deuteronomy 22:6,7]


Divine approval of using animals to work for us


Deuteronomy 25:4 - Oxen were made to work by treading out grain. It would be rewarded for its work, but man has the right to expect it to work for our benefit.


1 Kings 1:33,38,44 - David had a mule which was his “own” mule, and they had Solomon ride on it. David possessed it and used it for riding.


1 Kings 19:19 - Elisha was using oxen to plow when he was called by Elijah to be a prophet. So godly people used animals to plow.


Nehemiah 2:12 - The righteous man Nehemiah rode on an animal.


Job 1:14 - The oxen owned by Job, who was blameless and upright, were made to work at plowing (v14).


New Testament examples


Luke 10:34 - The Good Samaritan helped the needy man by putting him on his own animal. Note: The teaching of Jesus Himself proves that good people may own animals, use animals, and ride animals.


Furthermore, Jesus told this story to illustrate what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. He shows that the command to love your neighbor as yourself applies to people, not animals. Note that the man rode the animal, the animal did not ride the man. No one would want to be compelled to let an animal ride him; so the command to love your neighbor does not forbid using animals in ways that you would never use a person. No passage commands anyone to love an animal as yourself. Jesus’ teaching clearly distinguished people from animals and shows they should be treated by different rules.


Luke 19:30,33-35; Matthew 21:5 - Scripture says that a donkey had human “owners,” and Jesus rode on the donkey. Not only did Jesus approve of people owning animals, but He Himself used an animal to ride on.


John 10:2-4,11-14 - Jesus said He is like a shepherd who has his “own” sheep. Note how He contrasts Himself to a hireling who does not own the sheep. He does not just care for other people’s sheep, but He Himself owns the sheep.


James 3:3,7 - Men tame animals and put bits in their mouths to control them so they obey us. This illustrates how we should tame and control our tongues. Is this teaching “tongue liberation” and “tongue rights? Should we just let our tongues do whatever they want? Clearly we should control and confine our tongues to do only what we will. Likewise, this is how men tame and control animals. Animal liberation and animal rights completely contradict the point.


Clearly, the Biblical teaching of man’s dominion over animals includes the right to control them, confine them, and require them to obey us. We have the right to possess them as property, use them, and make them work for us, whether they want to or not. They are required to serve our purposes to meet our needs. They are not at “liberty,” nor do they have the “right” to come and go or act as they please. All these are Biblical teachings, yet all of them prove that animals do not have “rights” like people do.


The views of animal rights and animal liberation directly contradict all these Scriptures.


[Gen. 32:5,13-15,18; 36:6; 42:26,27; 44:3; 47:15-17; Ex. 20:17; 22:30; 23:4,12; Num. 20:8,11; 35:3; 1 Sam. 9:3,20; 16:11; 2 Sam. 12:3; 1 Kings 10:25,28; 2 Kings 7:7; Ezra 2:66,67; Neh. 7:68,69; Prov. 12:10; Jer. 27:6; Rev. 18:2]


II. May People Wear Clothing Made from Animal Products?


A. The View of Animal Liberation


PETA’s basic principle is that “animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment” - PETA web site.


Remember, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” We should treat an animal by the same rules we would treat a retarded child.


It follows that we do not have the right to use any part of an animal for clothing. Specifically, animal rights opposes all trapping, hunting, or farming of animals to use them for fur, such as fur coats, etc. They also oppose all wearing of leather, such as shoes, etc.


And to be consistent they must also oppose shepherding and shearing sheep for their wool, just as they oppose herding cows for milk.


Remember that they claim that animals have the same rights as a retarded human child. You surely would not kill a child to use any part of it for clothing. Nor would you farm or herd children so they could grow material for you, like wool from sheep or fur from other animals.


B. The Teaching of the Bible


Note the following evidence that man’s “dominion” over animals (Genesis 1:26-28) includes using them for clothing.


Old Testament teaching


Genesis 3:21 - When Adam and Eve sinned, they knew they were naked and needed clothing (vv 7-11). God made tunics of skin to clothe them.


If God’s rule is that we should wear only clothing made from plants or non-living materials, why did God teach the very first man and woman to wear clothing made from animal skins? Why did He Himself set this example? What kind of teacher would He be if He taught them to violate His own rule? The fact is that, since man first began to wear clothing, God Himself authorized and arranged for people to use animal skin for that purpose!


Exodus 25:1-6; 26:7,14 - God expressly commanded people to provide animal skins and animal hair to be used in building the tabernacle. How can it be wrong for people to make things from animal skins, when God Himself expressly commanded people to use them to make the tabernacle? [35:4-7,23; 36:14]


Leviticus 13:47-49,59 [15:17] - God gave instructions for cleansing garments made of leather. Note that He not only permitted people to wear them, but He had rules whereby they were declared ceremonially clean. [Num. 31:20]


Proverbs 31:13 - The worthy woman, upheld as an example for godly women to imitate, used wool as well as flax.


2 Kings 1:7,8 - The faithful prophet Elijah was known for wearing a girdle made of leather.


New Testament teaching


Matthew 3:4 - John the Baptist was in many ways like Elijah. Both were bold and faithful prophets of God, but another similarity was that John also wore a girdle made of leather. He also wore camel’s hair. Was he immoral and sinful?


Hebrews 11:37 - God describes His faithful servants in the Old Testament and holds them up as examples for us. He specifically states that some wore sheepskins and goatskins. So God Himself upholds people who wore animal skins as examples of faith!


John 10:1-15; Psalms 23:1-4 - Both God and Jesus compared themselves to shepherds in both the Old and New Testaments. Multitudes of Old Testament and New Testament people kept herds of sheep and goats, and many were shepherds (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David). Shepherds were among the first to whom Jesus’ birth was announced and came to worship Him (Luke 2:8-20). [Luke 15:3-7; Psalms 78:52; Isaiah 40:11; Ezek. 34:11,12]


Proverbs 27:23-26 - But shepherds not only possessed and used and confined sheep and goats (as in a sheep fold), but they also used them for wool for clothing. [2 Kings 3:4; Hosea 2:9]


Once again the Animal Liberation movement is in direct contradiction to God’s word. The Bible not only does not condemn the use of animal skins, fur, and wool or hair for clothing, but it expressly and repeatedly approves of it. This includes possessing, confining, using, and even killing animals, all of which the Animal Rights movement opposes.


The Bible simply does not agree with the views held by the Animal Rights movement, and it most definitely does not agree that animals should be treated like humans.




Part 3. May People Kill and Eat Animals and Animal Products?


A. The View of Animal Liberation.


“PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat...” - PETA web site. How far does this go?


Cows, pigs, fish, and fowl


They oppose killing, not only cows and pigs to eat, but also fish or fowl (chickens, turkeys, etc.).


They support the “Commando Chicks” (women wearing “sexy” “Vegas-style” costumes) who are “fighting the slaughter of their feathered friends ... trying to stop the year-round killing of 9 billion birds who are sensitive, feeling beings, just like dogs and cats” (PETA web site).


Milk and eggs


Further, animal liberators not only oppose killing animals to eat them, they also oppose keeping chickens for eggs and even dairy cows for milk, even though this does not kill the animals. (PETA web site)


Hunting or buying meat in a store


Hunters often argue that, if animals are not hunted they will overpopulate and die of starvation. Animal rights activists do not deny this argument. They simply claim that the fact nature causes death does not justify people in deliberately killing animals (PETA web site).


Regarding the argument, “I didn’t kill the animal,” they respond, “No, but you hired the killer. Whenever you purchase meat, that means that the killing was done for you and you paid for it.” (PETA web site)


Note that these are the kind of arguments that would be made against the murder of humans.




“...we’ve all accidentally stepped on ants or breathed in gnats, but that doesn’t mean we should intentionally cause unnecessary harm” - PETA web site.


Peter Singer said: “I wouldn’t kill a spider if I can avoid killing a spider” – Culture Facts, 7/19/02.


So even insects - ants, gnats, and spiders - should not be intentionally killed. How about mosquitoes and roaches?


Animals treated like humans


“No matter how one views God’s original intent, the complete disdain afforded animals who are turned into food is absolutely heretical ... Humans are playing God with animals, and ethical people should have no part in it.” Why? Because the animals’ “natural desires [are] totally thwarted, and their every need and desire entirely ignored...” (PETA web site). See, we must respect their desires and needs like we would those of other humans, otherwise, we are “playing God” and that is “heretical.”


Remember that they argue that animals have the same rights as a retarded human child. And clearly one should not eat a child. Such would clearly be murder. So, killing any animal to provide food for people is morally wrong, equivalent to murder. But even confining an animal against its wishes would also be wrong.


They usually try to defend their view by emphasizing the cruelest forms of animal abuse they can think of. But their real position argues that killing and eating any animal is wrong like killing and eating another human being. And even confining an animal (like a dairy cow) to get food from it is wrong, no matter how humanely it is done, because it violates the animals’ freedom. That is the consequence of animal rights.


B. Examples of People Who Ate Meat


The Bible is filled with numerous specific examples of faithful servants of God eating meat with no implication that they did wrong.


Genesis 25:27,28; 27:1-4 - Esau was a skillful hunter. His father Isaac loved Esau because he ate what Esau killed.


Genesis 43:16 - Joseph had an animal slaughtered for his brothers to eat with him.


1 Samuel 25:18 - Abigail brought sheep dressed to eat as a gift to David and his men.


1 Kings 4:22,23 - Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, ate oxen, sheep, deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fowl.


1 Kings 19:21 - Elisha slaughtered oxen to feed people.


1 Chronicles 12:39,40 - David and the people ate oxen and sheep when he was named king.


Nehemiah 5:17,18 - Nehemiah provided for those who ate with him oxen, sheep, and fowl.


Matthew 3:4 - John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey.


Note that many of the people ate, not just fish or birds, but “red meat”: cattle, sheep, oxen, etc.


If eating meat is immoral, then all these people were immoral and sinned in eating meat. Yet the Bible presents them as good people and never once implies they did anything wrong in these cases.


[1 Sam. 16:20; 17:18; Gen. 10:9; Prov. 9:2; 2 Sam. 17:29]


C. Passages Where God Specifically Approves of Eating Meat


Consider passages where God either approves of eating meat and animal products or even provides it for people to eat.


Genesis 9:1-6


After the flood God gave animals into the hand of man (v2) and said that “every moving thing” is food for us, just like plants are food (v3). Killing man is forbidden because man is in God’s image, but killing animals for food is authorized since they are not in God’s image. This passage expressly states, both that God permits man to eat animal meat, and that God’s rules against killing people do not apply to animals.


Some claim this was just a temporary provision till plants grew on earth after the flood. But the passage nowhere says this. God had put both animals and people on the ark to save them alive (6:19). He had provided sufficient food for people and animals on the ark (6:21) till the earth was able to provide for them (clearly the dove did not return because there was food for it elsewhere - 8:12,13). If there were no plants so people had to eat animals, then what did the animals eat and how did they live to repopulate the earth?


Others say that, as with divorce, God simply tolerated people’s desire to eat meat under the Old Testament, but never really approved it. However, we know this is what God did regarding divorce because the Bible clearly says so (Matt. 19:3-9). Where does it clearly say this is what He did regarding eating meat? Furthermore, Jesus clearly stated that the New Testament would return to God’s original teaching regarding divorce. Where does He clearly say that He does not want us to eat meat? We will see that He says just the opposite.


Other Old Testament passages


Genesis 18:2,7,8 - Abraham showed hospitality to visitors by feeding them butter, milk, and a calf he had killed. Note that Abraham offered them - and they ate - not just dairy products (butter and milk), but also red meat (beef - veal) which he had killed.


These visitors were actually angels, one of whom is called “the Lord” (vv 16-19). He praised Abraham as a righteous and just man. If killing and eating meat is immoral, would a righteous and just man provide people meat to eat, and would the Lord eat it? Hebrews 13:2 commands us to show similar hospitality.


Exodus 12:3,6,8,46 - God commanded each family in Israel to kill and eat a lamb for the Passover feast.


Deuteronomy 12:15,20-22 - When Israelites offered animal sacrifices, they and/or the priests ate much of the meat. This was God’s blessing to them. [15:19-23; 14:26; Num. 18:9,10; Ex. 29:32; Lev. 7:15; 8:31]


Leviticus 11:2,3,9,21,46,47 - Under the law God forbade eating unclean animals, yet He expressly authorized the eating of many clean animals: mammals, fish, birds, and insects. [Deut. 14:4,6,9,11,20]


Leviticus 17:13,14 - Blood of an animal must be poured out before the animal was eaten. But with this provision, animals and birds may be hunted, caught, and eaten.


1 Kings 17:4,6 - God nourished Elijah by providing him bread and meat. Did God provide food that would be immoral to eat?


Proverbs 27:23-27 - Flocks were not only a legitimate source of riches and clothing, they also provide milk for food (v27).


Exodus 3:8,17; 13:5; 33:3; Leviticus 20:24; Deuteronomy 27:3; Jeremiah 32:22 - God blessed Israel by bringing them to the promised land of “milk and honey.” The Bible views drinking milk as a great blessing from God, yet animal liberation says it is immoral! Does God bless people by promoting evil? [Even taking honey would be “stealing” from bees, if animals have rights!] [Deut. 32:14]


New Testament passages


Acts 10:9-16; 11:5-10 - In a vision God commanded Peter to eat unclean animals. When Peter refused, God explained that he should not consider as unclean things that God had cleansed.


This was primarily a symbol that Gentiles could receive the gospel; but would God have commanded Peter to eat, if he would have sinned by doing so? How would an immoral act serve as a proper symbol of something that Peter ought to do? This serves as a fitting illustration only if the animals that were unclean under the Old Testament may now be eaten.


1 Timothy 4:1-5 - Some people forbid the eating of “meats” (KJV, ASV) or “foods” (NKJV). This is a doctrine of those who depart from the faith and follow doctrines of demons.


Some claim this refers, not to meat, but to forbidding “foods” in general. But no one forbids humans to eat all kinds of food, so the verse must refer to people who forbid certain kinds of foods. The fact this includes eating meat is confirmed by v4: Every creature of God is good and not to be refused if we are thankful for it. So the doctrine that forbids eating meat (God’s creatures) is a false doctrine taught by those who have departed from the faith!


1 Corinthians 8:8,10,13; 10:25; (Romans 14:1,2,15,21) - As a matter of personal conscience, some Christians would not eat meats that had been offered to idols. People are not required to eat meat - a vegetarian diet is not wrong. But the truth is that eating meat is not wrong of itself. If we eat we are no worse, and if we do not we are no better (v8). It is wrong only if it violates someone’s conscience (v10; Rom. 14:14). So those who did not eat were “weak” - (Rom. 14:2).


But meat bought in a meat market, should just be eaten with no questions asked - 10:25. So clearly eating meat is not inherently wrong. And people sinned if, as with modern animals liberators, they viewed eating meat as inherently wrong a matter of morality and condemned those who ate meat - Rom. 14:3. Remember, to forbid eating meats is false doctrine.


Colossians 2:16 - Since the Old Law has been removed (v14), no one should judge us regarding old laws of food and drink, such as clean and unclean animals. Clean animals could always be eaten, and under the gospel we may eat even those that were formerly unclean. Those who would judge us for so doing are wrong.


[2 Peter 2:12; 1 Cor. 3:2; 9:7; Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:2]


D. The Example of Jesus


Some people actually claim that Jesus was a vegetarian. But consider:


Jesus’ teaching and conduct


Luke 5:1-10 - The event that specifically motivated the apostles to follow Jesus was a miracle in which He enabled them to make a huge catch of fish (vv 4-9). If catching fish is immoral, why did Jesus instruct and enable them to do it, especially when they had not been able to catch anything previously?


Luke 11:11-13 - Jesus said a father gives good gifts to his children, including bread, fish, and eggs. The parallel to the bread shows that the children would eat the fish and eggs (what other use would they be?). Jesus here justifies eating fish and eggs, and He says that those who provide these for food are doing good, not evil! Note that, not only is eating fish good, so also is eating eggs.


Mark 7:18,19 - Jesus taught that a man is not defiled (i.e., does not sin - vv 20-23) because of the foods he eats. In saying this, he purified all foods - i.e., He removed the Old Testament prohibitions against eating unclean animals. So whereas the Old Testament justified much eating of meat, the New Testament allows even more than did the Old Testament!


Mark 6:35-44; 8:1-9 - Jesus fed the 5000 and later the 4000 by feeding them bread and fish (note 6:41; 8:7). [John 6:9,11]


Matthew 22:4 - Jesus told a parable of a king who killed oxen and fatted cattle for a wedding feast. Here eating meat is a symbol of partaking of the blessings of God’s kingdom. Would God use something immoral to symbolize the blessings of the kingdom?


Luke 15:23,27 - When the prodigal son returned, the father had the servants rejoice by killing and eating the fatted calf. This illustrates God’s joy when people repent of sin.


Mark 14:12,18 - Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples. We earlier learned that the Passover involved killing and eating a lamb. Therefore, Jesus ate meat. Did Jesus do something immoral?


Luke 24:36-43 - After His resurrection (and after the Old Law had been removed), Jesus ate fish to prove to His disciples that He really had been raised from the dead.


John 21:3,6,8-13 - After His resurrection the apostles again went fishing. Jesus repeated the miracle of providing the apostles with fish to catch. This time He also cooked fish and gave fish to them to eat.


Note that, in many of these cases Jesus ate fish or provided fish for others to eat. But in some of them He ate or approved of eating “red meat”: calves, and lamb.




Some argue that Jesus did not eat meat at the Passover.


They say that Jesus cast the people who sold animals out of the temple, so there were no animals left to eat at the Passover. But no one ate the Passover at the temple anyway; they ate it in their houses (Ex. 12:6,7). And Jesus never objected to people selling animals outside the temple for eating the Passover.


The Bible plainly commanded the Jews to kill and eat the lamb. In fact, they were to eat it all, so none remained till morning (see the Scriptures cited above). To refuse to eat would have been simple disobedience. Animal Rights argues that may Jews, including Jesus, simply rebelled against God’s law!


Mark’s account (14:12ff) expressly says that they “killed” the Passover lamb. Jesus’ disciples prepared for the meal and Jesus ate it with them (vv 12,14,18). Eating the Passover included eating the lamb, as the Old Testament and the gospel accounts affirm. God commanded it and Jesus obeyed. Therefore, eating meat cannot possibly be inherently immoral.


Some argue that the miracles involving meat were symbols to prove Jesus’ power, to teach disciples to share with others, or to spread the gospel, etc.


No doubt Jesus’ miracles did teach His power and other lessons, but the fact remains that He still did the physical acts. To deny this is to deny the Scriptures as Divine revelation. What other miracles did Jesus do that involved Him in practicing immorality? Did Jesus practice immorality in order to prove His power and teach lessons about goodness?


The fact is that Jesus provided fish for fishermen, provided fish for people to eat, and He Himself ate fish. All of these are things PETA says are immoral. If fishing and eating fish are immoral, then Jesus practiced immorality and had fellowship in immorality, rather than rebuking it (Eph. 5:11; 2 John 9-11).


Furthermore, several examples we used did not involve miracles: Luke 11:11-13; Mark 7:18,19; Matthew 22:4; Luke 15:23,27; Mark 14:12,18.


Others point out that Jesus did not kill any fish but took what was already dead and miraculously multiplied it or produced it.


However, the fact remains that He provided fish knowing that others would kill and eat them, so His conduct and example encouraged people to physically catch and eat fish. If this is inherently immoral, then He encouraged immorality (see Eph. 5:11; etc.).


When people today claim that they themselves do not kill what they eat, PETA argues that they are still responsible for the killing if they eat the meat (see their arguments above). If PETA folks had been present, would they have participated with Jesus in eating the meat He provided?


And Jesus Himself ate the Passover Lamb.


Others claim the disciples did not kill the fish Jesus helped them catch: there were so many fish they could not get them in the boat, so they left them in the sea!


But the Bible clearly says they filled the boats with fish (Luke 5:7) and brought the fish to shore and even counted them (John 21:8-12). Then Jesus had them eat some fish - John 21:9,10,12,13.


Worse yet, some effectively deny the inspiration of pertinent New Testament Scriptures.


They say that the accounts of Jesus’ eating fish in Luke 24 and John 21 were not in the original, and the original accounts of feeding the multitudes did not mention fish. These were all added later by uninspired men!


Further, they say the four gospel records of Jesus’ life were written generations after Jesus’ death by men who never personally met Jesus! And Paul never wrote 1 Timothy, with its rebuke of those who forbid eating meat - that was written by someone else at least 60 years after Paul died! (JesusVeg FAQ)


Of course, no ancient Bible texts are produced to prove any of these claims. It is simply an unfounded claim by people desperate to avoid the force of Bible truth.


Immediately after recording the account in John 21, the writer affirms that he was present when these things happened and his testimony is true - John 21:24. Was he there, is his record true, or did he lie? Matthew also was an apostle. And Luke claims to have carefully researched his record with eyewitnesses - Luke 1:1-4. More important, the authors claim to have been inspired by God to write as the basis of our faith (John 20:30,31; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2:10-13; Ephesians 3:3-5; John 16:13; Matthew 10:19,20; Galatians 1:8-12; 2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; Luke 10:16).


If despite these claims people reject the record because it does not agree with their belief, why do they claim to believe any of it? How do they know what is or is not true? Why bother to try to use Scripture to prove their case, if they simply reject it when it contradicts their position?


But you had to know it would happen. Time and again, when all else fails, we see unbelievers prove they are unbelievers by finding fault with Scripture. Moslems do it. Mormons do it. Modernists of all stripes do it. We showed from the outset that animal rights leaders did not base their views on Scripture. Why should we be surprised to see them reject Scripture whenever it contradicts their view?


And when all else fails, simply deny that we should follow Jesus!


“However, whether Jesus was or wasn’t a vegetarian, Christians today should be” - JesusVeg FAQ.


So if they can fool us into thinking that the Bible and Jesus’ example defend their view, they argue that we should follow Jesus and the Bible. But when we prove that the Bible and Jesus’ example contradict their view, then they throw out the Bible and argue that we should not follow Jesus’ example! So the bottom line is that followers of Jesus should not follow Him if He does not accept the views of Animal Liberation!


The fact is that, regardless of their claims, animal liberators do not believe what Jesus believed, do not teach what Jesus taught, do not practice what Jesus practiced, and are not really following Jesus!


Jesus ate meat. Jesus provided meat for others to eat, and Jesus enabled people to catch meat to eat. All this would be wrong if eating meat is immoral. But Jesus never sinned - Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21. Therefore, none of these things were wrong for Him to do. And since followers of Jesus are supposed to imitate His example, none of these things are wrong for us to do - Luke 6:40; 1 Peter 2:21,22; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Matthew 16:24; 1 John 2:6; John 13:15. The teaching of all the Old Testament and, even more so the New Testament, repeatedly justifies eating meat.




Nothing here requires people to eat animals. Some choose not to do so for health or other personal reasons. That is a personal choice. But those who so choose must not believe or teach that others who do eat animal flesh are immoral or have violated God’s laws.


And most important, none of this proves that it is inherently immoral to kill animals for food. On the contrary, killing animals for food is clearly authorized by God. It is a legitimate part of our stewardship as we use the animals for our good - the very purpose for which the animals were created. Any other view perverts God’s plan both for the animals and for the people.


A secondary point: No doubt different people are affected differently by different foods due to allergies and other personal health issues. And no doubt foods can be prepared in various different ways. But if eating meat is generally bad for health, as some claim, why did Jesus and God repeatedly justify, promote, and encourage it? Does God encourage people to do unhealthy things? Does He not know best what is or is not healthy? How do you harmonize all these passages that justify eating meat as a blessing from God, if in fact it is generally bad for health?


E. Arguments Used to Oppose Eating Meat


Most arguments against eating meat have already been answered.


Genesis 1:29-31


Before sin entered the world, men and animals ate only plants. God’s creation then was “very good.” There was no death and no eating of animals. This was God’s ideal. Death and eating animals began only after man sinned. We today should seek the ideal and should not kill or eat animals.


Answer: Yes, the world has been cursed by sin, which led to death. But we must live in the world as it is, not as it was in the past. When sin and its curse came into the world, God changed the rules by which man must live.


For example, in the garden when everything was “very good,” Adam and Eve did not wear clothes (2:25). Should we “seek the ideal” and go naked as they did? Immediately after the sin, God used animal skins to solve their nakedness (3:21). He approved of killing animals for sacrifices (4:3-5). So the rules that applied in the garden do not apply now. God Himself changed the rules after sin entered.


We have abundantly proved by the Scriptures that God approves of man’s use of animals for work, for clothing, and for food. This is God’s law for today, rather than the laws He gave Adam and Eve in the garden. Those who say otherwise are the ones rebelling against God’s laws.




Part 4: Religious and Moral Views of Animal Rights


I. Attempts to Defend Animal Rights Biblically


We have shown that the main leaders in the Animal Rights movement do not base their positions on the Bible. However, the Bible is the recognized standard of morality for many people, so some proponents do attempt to justify Animal Rights from Scripture. Some of these examples have already been discussed. Consider some others.


A. Nonviolence and Peace in the Coming Kingdom


It is argued that Jesus’ coming kingdom will be nonviolent - the lion will lie down with the lamb, etc. (Isaiah 11:6,7; 65:25). Jesus is the Prince of Peace. So we should seek to bring about that peace between man and animals now. [Hosea 2:18]


This argument fails to recognize the symbolic nature of prophecy.


The prophecies are now fulfilled in the church


Isaiah 11:1,6-10 - A rod or branch would grow from the root (stem) of Jesse (vv 1,10). This is agreed to be the Messiah. This would result in peace among wild animals (vv 6-9).


But the context is clearly symbolic. Is Jesus a literal rod, branch, or root? Will he literally strike the earth with a rod from his mouth (v4)? Will he have a literal belt of righteousness and faithfulness (v5)? If not, why should we take the animals and their conduct literal?


The passage says these things will happen on earth (vv 4,9). Yet this cannot refer to Jesus’ literal second coming, since at that time the earth will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:6-10).


Note v10 - In that day Gentiles would seek this root. But Romans 15:9-12 tells us what day this refers to. It quotes Isaiah 11:10 to confirm the theme of Romans, which is that the gospel is for all men including Gentiles (Rom. 1:16). So the peace predicted in Isa. 11 refers to the salvation of all men, including Gentiles through the gospel at Jesus’ first coming.


The prophesied peace was spiritual, not physical.


Remember, the prophecies are symbolic, not literal. They prophesy spiritual peace, not physical peace between men and animals. Note the spiritual peace we have in the gospel.


John 14:27 - Jesus’ first coming gave peace, not as the world gives - not physical peace. It gave peace so the heart would not be troubled nor fearful. [Phil. 4:6,7]


Romans 5:1 - Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. [Zech. 6:12,13; Col. 1:20-22; 3:15; Micah 5:2-5]


Ephesians 2:14-16 - The gospel also produced spiritual peace between Jew and Gentile (if they are converted to the gospel), because it removed the Old Law, which was a wall of partition between the two (cf. vv 11-13).


The peace predicted in Isa. 11 is spiritual peace in the spiritual kingdom, the church: peace between man and God and peace between Jew and Gentile. It is fulfilled in the church through the gospel. It has nothing to do with literal peace between men and animals, and does not in any way prove that men must not kill animals. In fact, we have shown that the gospel of spiritual peace clearly permits men to eat animals and use them for clothing.


B. No Killing of Animals in Heaven


It is argued that no animals are killed in heaven. And Christians pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” so we should not kill animals on earth just like they are not killed in heaven.


First, there is no evidence that literal animals even exist in heaven. And we have shown earlier that the animals that live on earth have no spirits and so will not go to heaven. So this proves nothing.


Furthermore, the laws practiced in heaven are not necessarily the same as God’s laws for us on earth.


Matthew 22:30 - In heaven there is no marriage. Yet people who forbid marriage on earth are guilty of apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-3; Heb. 13:4). Hence, the rules for heaven are not the same as the rules for earth.


The rules for the past age of the Old Testament differ from the rules of the present New Testament age (Hebrews 10:1-10; 7:11-14; 8:6-13; 9:1-4; Galatians 3:24,25; 5:1-6; Romans 7:1-7; Colossians 2:13-17; etc.). So also the rules for the future affairs of heaven differ from the rules of the present practices on earth. We have no more right to use the rules of heaven as authority for our practice today than we have to use the Old Testament rules.


Jesus’ model prayer does not teach that the laws that exist on earth are identical to the laws that exist in heaven. What it teaches is that whatever laws God makes for heaven are there respected and obeyed. Likewise, we should pray that whatever laws He gives for here on earth will be respected and obeyed here. But that does not prove that the laws in both places are the same.


C. How We Treat the Least Is How We Treat Jesus.


Verses are quoted showing that the way we treat others is how we treat Jesus: “As we do to the least, so we do to Him.” This is applied to animals.


However, Jesus’ statements actually refer to how we treat other people, not to how we treat animals.


Matthew 25:40 - “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Jesus is talking about how we treat His “brethren” - other people - not how we treat animals. The context shows he is talking about clothing the naked, etc. Does this refer to animals? [Luke 10:16; John 13:20]


Here again Animal Rights activists have taken principles that God spoke regarding people and applied them to animals. But we have learned that God neither views nor values animals as He does people. Men are in God’s image, so how we treat them is how we treat God’s Son. But animals are not in God’s image, so different rules apply. We have shown that Jesus’ gospel clearly permits people to own animals and to use them for food and clothing.


God has also spoken about those who misuse and pervert His word. If Animal Rights activists are serious about Scripture, then they need to carefully consider the many passages that warn against using Scripture to teach something which clearly differs from what God intended it to teach. See Galatians 1:8,9; 2 John 9-11; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13.


D. General Passages about Mercy, Love, Compassion, etc.


Many verses are cited where Jesus calls on us to show mercy, love, compassion, etc. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.” “Blessed are the peacemakers.” God liberated Israel from slavery in Egypt, so we are told that surely He would want us to likewise liberate animals.


All verses about love, mercy, etc., must be applied according to God’s other teachings. We have already learned that mercy and compassion do not require the same things in treatment of animals that they require in treatment of people. We have shown many Scriptures that prove God views men differently from how He views animals, and His rules for treating men are different from His rules for treating animals. What is merciful or compassionate toward a person may not apply the same toward animals.


Likewise, God liberated Israel from Egypt because He repeatedly called them His people. This does not prove He or we must likewise liberate animals.


Biblical love and mercy require us to obey God’s commands. They never justify us in setting our own rules of right and wrong. Read John 14:15,21-24; Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 5:2,3; 2 John 5,6. God’s laws must guide our love and compassion, and we have seen that God’s laws permit owning and controlling animals and using them for food and clothing.


Once again Animal Rights assumes that God’s laws mean the same toward animals as they do toward man. And once again they are ignoring what God’s word actually says. They change the rules as they see fit. This is a clear violation of Scripture. We must handle God’s word properly, not pervert it - 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:2.


E. Jesus Opposed Animal Sacrifices.


We are told that Jesus cast out those who sold animals in the temple, in order to prevent them from slaughtering animals. He said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” so we should show mercy to animals not kill them.


During His lifetime Jesus obeyed the law of animal sacrifices and commanded others to do the same.


The Old Testament law was still in effect during Jesus’ lifetime. It was not removed till He died (Heb. 9:16,17; Col. 2:14).


During His lifetime, He respected the laws about animal sacrifices, and told others to obey them - Luke 2:24; Matthew 8:1-4.


He never told anyone not to offer the required animal sacrifices. If so, where? If He was opposed to killing animals, as some claim, why did He defend and command people to sacrifice animals?


Jesus cast the sellers out of the temple because of His concern for the temple, not for the animals.


Matthew 21:13 - Jesus explained His action saying: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” Note that Jesus’ reasons had nothing to do with concern for the animals. His reasons pertained to the temple (God’s house) and the people’s corrupt business practices that disrespected the temple. [Mark 11:17]


John 2:16 - He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Jesus never criticized or objected if people bought and sold animals anywhere else. The problem was that these people were doing it in the temple, which violated the spiritual purpose of the temple.


We have cited many passages showing that Jesus’ teaching authorizes the killing of animals. His objection here was to the perversion of the temple.


Jesus nowhere spoke against the practice of animal sacrifices.


Matthew 9:13; 12:7 - His statement, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” did not mean He was opposed to animal sacrifices. He was calling for mercy, not on animals, but on people. In the one case the Pharisees were unjustly condemning Jesus’ disciples, and in the other case they were showing no concern for sinners who needed salvation by the gospel.


Jesus’ statement was actually a quotation from the Old Testament (Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; 1 Samuel 15:22). Obviously the Old Testament was not opposed to animal sacrifices; so when Jesus quoted the Old Testament, why should we think that He did it to oppose animal sacrifices?


The point of the expression is that people who don’t treat other people properly (mercy) should not expect God to accept their worship (sacrifices). Offering worship to God does not make up for the fact that people are disobeying God in other ways. This same principle was taught many other ways in God’s word, but it never involved opposition to the killing of animals.


Animal sacrifices are not in the New Testament, because they could not remove sin.


Hebrews 10:1-4,9,10 - Animal sacrifices were part of the Old Testament as a shadow or symbol to prepare people for the better sacrifice of Jesus. However, God did not desire to continue animal sacrifices, because they could not really forgive sins. So now under the New Testament we have a better law, which includes the sacrifice of Jesus.


Animal sacrifices have ended, not because God opposes the killing of animals, but because they were ineffective in forgiving sin and are no longer needed under the gospel. But the gospel still allows people to kill animals for food and clothing, etc.


F. Laws against Killing


“It is certainly true that originally, God’s commandment, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill,’ applied exclusively to humans ... vegetarians are simply suggesting that it is now time to include animals” - They claim that God really never wanted men to kill animals, but he figured men would never obey a law against that. So He settled with commanding men not to kill men.


So once again Animal Liberation takes a Bible instruction about how we should treat people and applies it to how we should treat animals. We have repeatedly explained why this is not proper, because God views men differently animals. In fact, Genesis 9:3-6 expressly stated that animals and men are different in regard to killing, because men are in the image of God and animals are not.


But here we have Animal Liberation openly admitting that they are knowingly changing God’s word. They openly acknowledge that they intend to apply God’s command differently from what He meant! In short, they believe they have the right to change what God said in Scripture! They know better than He does! God has strong words for such people:


Galatians 1:9 - If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.


Revelation 22:18 - If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.


2 John 1:9 - Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.


II. Animal Rights’ View of Scripture


A. The View of Animal Rights


As we have already stated, Animal Rights leaders sometimes quote Scripture hoping to influence those who do believe it; but in fact they do not really believe that Scripture is the infallible, inspired word of God.


Singer and Regan, who wrote the main books defending animal rights, both “base their positions on modern secular reasons and eschew arguments based on religious suppositions” - Sherry, p4.


Singer subtitled his book “A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals.” Obviously then, is not the Biblical ethic, which has been here for thousands of years, but a new one of human invention.


“...the Gospels were written generations after the resurrection ... None of the four Gospel writers ever met Jesus ... Most scholars agree that the post-resurrection stories of Jesus eating fish were added to the Gospels long after they were written...” - web site.


“... evidence indicates that the story of the loaves and the fishes did not originally include fish ... Fish were added to the stories by Greek scribes...” - web site


“The letters to Timothy [were] written not by Paul but by one of his disciples 60 to 150 years after Paul’s martyrdom...” - web site.


In an address to the national Animal Rights 2002 conference in McLean, Va, prominent animal rights activist and Princeton University professor Peter Singer has called the influence of Christianity “the most harmful” obstacle to the “animal liberation” movement. Singer blamed “conservative mainstream fundamentalist” Christianity, which takes the Bible “too literally” and teaches that there exists “a huge gulf between humans and animals.” Singer said the “problem” with the Christian worldview is the belief that unlike animals, humans are made in the image of God and possess souls. Furthermore, in the book of Genesis, God gave mankind dominion over the animal kingdom. Singer views his mission as that of challenging “this superiority of human beings” - CultureFacts, 7/29/2002.


So the truth is that the effort of animal rights activists to cite Scripture for their views is all subterfuge. Bible teaching does not agree with Animal Rights, and the real leaders of the movement know it.


B. The Teaching of Scripture


Obviously we do not have space here for a thorough defense of Biblical inspiration (see the links at the end of this study for more information). We will summarize a few points.


Bible writers claimed that all Scripture is inspired directly by God. This includes the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and the writings of Paul, including specifically the books of 1 and 2 Timothy - 2 Timothy 3:16,17. See also 2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2:10-13; Ephesians 3:3-5; John 16:13; Matthew 10:19,20; Galatians 1:8-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Luke 10:16.


They claimed furthermore that, since they were guided by God, their writings must be infallible and inerrant - Numbers 22:35,38; 23:5,12,16,19,20; Deuteronomy 18:18-22; Psalm 19:7-9; 33:4; 119:128,142,160; John 17:17; Titus 1:2,3; Revelation 19:9; 21:5.


Specifically, the gospel writers claimed that their records were factual history based on their own personal eyewitness or on personal conversations with eyewitnesses - John 21:24; Luke 1:1-4.


The books of 1 and 2 Timothy expressly claim that they were written by Paul based on his authority as an apostle - 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1.


Those who deny these claims are effectively making out the Bible writers to be liars and frauds. If so, why claim to believe anything they wrote? How would we know what to believe and what not to believe? The Scriptures themselves claim that we must accept all Scripture as true or else reject it all. Some Animal Rights activists attempt to accept the Bible when they think it agrees with their view and then reject it when it disagrees. Such an approach simply amounts to infidelity.


Finally, Bible writers claimed they wrote a complete revelation of all the will of God for our day - 2 Timothy 3:16,17; John 16:13. And therefore no one has the right to change what they wrote or to follow any standard other than what they wrote - Galatians 1:8,9; 2 John 9-11; Colossians 3:17; Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 14:12; 3:5,6; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13.


Animal Rights activists clearly do not really believe the Bible to be God’s inspired, infallible word. They do not accept it as the absolute standard of right and wrong. Some of them openly admit this and recognize that they are enemies of the Bible. Others try to deny this and pose as Bible believers, but their arguments prove them to be unbelievers.


In any case, a careful study of God’s word clearly shows that the basic beliefs of Animal Rights violate Bible principles.




Other issues


There are other issues raised by the Animal Rights movement, which we have not specifically dealt with here, such as use of animals for medical experimentation. The Scriptures do not specifically deal with that practice, but the general principles we have studied would prevail.


Since God gave man dominion over animals and since this dominion includes the right to use animals for food and clothing, it follows that our dominion includes the right to use animals for any other purpose useful in providing man’s necessities. Good health is a physical need, just as much as food and clothing. So it follows that man’s dominion includes the right to use animals to provide for man’s needs, including medical treatment.


Final observation


I find it incredibly ironic that animal liberators are so squeamish about any inconvenience to animals - even if it results in great good to people - yet the very same people will justify terrible immorality and wrongs against human beings.


Peter Singer of Princeton University, who leads in the Animal Rights movement, also “advocates allowing parents to kill their children in the first months of life because, he says, newborns are not yet fully human. He defends bestiality as an acceptable lifestyle choice...” - Washington Update, 7/10/03.


So if you confine a cow against its will to get its milk, you have committed horrible immorality, but have a sexual union with it and that’s fine! (Or do you first have to obtain the cow’s “consent”?) Kill a fish, pig, or chicken to feed hungry people and you’re terrible, but kill a human baby even months after it’s been born and that’s fine because it isn’t yet human! Millions of unborn babies are murdered every year, and many of these folks never raise a whimper. Yet let someone milk a cow, take an egg from a chicken, or give a shot to a rat, and they raise an uproar!


At the root of such obvious moral blunders is the fundamental failure to recognize the God-ordained distinction between people and animals. The fundamental issue is that man is in the image of God. Animals are not.