The Top 7 Shocking Christian Animal Rights Misconceptions

Have you ever heard someone say that God gave animals to us so we could use them for any purpose we want? 

Me too. ​

Well it turns out, most of what we have been told is completely incorrect. 

Many Christians who are just learning about animal rights for the first time have many misconceptions.

Here are the top 7 Christian Animal Rights misconceptions​...


We Have Dominion Over the Animals and Can Do With Them As We Please

Like most items on this list, this argument takes a partial truth and almost unconsciously flips it into a lie.

It is absolutely true that God gave humans "dominion" over animals.

In Genesis 1:26, it clearly states that God gives humans dominion over the animals.

The problem comes when people misunderstand the word "dominion" with a similar sounding word "domination". The dominion that God gave us means that we are to be caretakers for the animals and to watch over them as a parent would watch over her children.

Want further Biblical proof that dominion does not mean domination? 

In the book of Genesis, the translated word in English is "dominion" but in the actual, original Hebrew it is uses the word "radah". 

Well guess what? In Psalm 72:8, the Bible uses that same word "radah" to describe a king who has dominion from sea to sea but who delivers the needy when they cry, helps the poor, and redeems their lives from oppression and violence.

He rescues the poor who call to him,and those who are needy and neglected. He has pity on the weak and poor; he saves the lives of those in need. He rescues them from oppression and violence; their lives are precious to him. - Psalm 72:12-14

This is proof that God's definition of dominion is someone who does indeed have power over others but instead of using that power for self-gain, that person uses that power to help others. 

As Christians, we look to Christ to show us what God means by dominion.

Christ was given dominion over humans. He did not stuff us in factory farms, send us through the slaughterhouse, and then eat our body parts; he laid down his life for us.

Having dominion over the animals means that we have a moral obligation to protect the animals; even if that means laying down our lives as the Good Shepherd does.


God Desired Animal Sacrifice

The Old Testament is chock full of verses talking about animal sacrifice.

Before Christ came to earth, animal sacrifice was needed for the expiation of sins.

Saying that God "desired" animal sacrifice is like saying that God "desired" Christ to be brutally crucified. This is a partial truth but a very misleading truth.

The sacrifice of animals is a heinous evil and the crucifixion of Jesus is also a heinous evil.

It is the ultimate meaning of the sacrifice of animals and the ultimate meaning of the crucifixion of Christ that God finds pleasure in.

The killing of both the animals and Christ is a visual representation of the evil of sin. God does not desire animal sacrifice any more than he desires to watch Christ be tortured.

In reality, Christ came to replace animal sacrifice so that no innocent animal ever had to be sacrificed again.

Tied with loving our neighbor as ourselves, Jesus quotes the Old Testament verse, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" (Hosea 6:6) more than any other verse in the entire Old Testament.

This Old Testament verse refers to animal sacrifice. God does not desire animal sacrifice, he desires mercy.

Christ tells us, "Go and learn what that text means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice'" (Matthew 9:13).


Jesus Killed 2000 Pigs

In Mark 5:13, two thousand pigs are said to have drowned after Jesus sends demons into the pigs which causes the pigs to rush off a cliff and drown in the sea.

Of course, if this story is meant to be taken literally, Jesus is taking part in some serious animal cruelty.

Thankfully, we can use the Synoptic Principle to prove what this story is about. Check out the post Did Jesus Kill 2000 Pigs? for what this story is really about.


Vegetarians Are Weak

According to Paul in Romans 14:2, vegetarians are weak right?

Not exactly.

This is why context is so important.

As a modern day example, for the movie "Live Free or Die Hard", the New York Daily News characterized the movie by saying:

"The action in this fast-paced, hysterically overproduced and surprisingly entertaining film is as realistic as a Road Runner cartoon".

When it came time to advertise for the movie, the marketing department shortened this to "hysterically...entertaining". Was that an actual representation of what the critic said?

Not by a long shot.

Neither is this an accurate representation of what Paul is saying.

Imagine that you lived at the time of Paul and one of your friends brought over vegetables that had just been sacrificed (dedicated to gods) in the pagan temple.

Now imagine that one of your other friends refuses to eat these "vegetables" because they were dedicated to the pagan idols.

You would probably think of this person as having a weak faith. As we all know, there is only one God.

A multitude of "gods" does not even exist so refusing to eat some vegetables that were sacrificed to "gods" is irrelevant and would mean our trust in the one true God is weak.

This is what Paul means when he is discussing meat sacrificed to pagan idols. In this respect, Paul is absolutely correct.

Paul had no idea what would become of animal agriculture thousands of years later.

If Paul could see the billions of animals in factory farms today he would be weeping for how his words were twisted to condone causing suffering to God's children.


But Jesus Ate Meat!

Based on all of the available evidence we have, on a daily basis, Jesus appears to be somewhere between a pescetarian (someone who eats no animals besides fish) and a vegetarian.

At the same time, people around the Sea of Galilee who ate fish to survive is not exactly the best analogy to the people of our generation.

Most people who eat fish today are eating factory (aqua) farmed fish that are loaded with antibiotics and forced to swim in many times disease and excrement filled, closed off pens. 

This is a far cry from 2000 years ago when no factory farms existed and when people had a harder time living without eating meat.

Some people like to claim that Jesus ate lamb since he was a Jew but the evidence shows the exact opposite of this.

In reality, right when we would expect Jesus to use lamb at the last supper, he replaces the lamb with his own body and blood.

Honestly think about this...

It would have been absolutely perfect for Jesus to tell us to eat the lamb in remembrance of him. "I am the lamb. Eat this in remembrance of me." would have been so perfect!

Yet, Jesus uses bread instead.

Jesus freed the animals from the temple and he laid down his life so that no innocent animal ever had to be sacrificed ever again.

Those people who think Jesus was breaking the law because he did not eat lamb at Passover would do well to heed Jesus' advice and "go and learn what that text means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice'" (Matthew 9:13) for "if you knew what that text meant 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice', you would not have condemned the innocent" (Matthew 12:7).

Although Jesus broke the letter (but not the spirit) of the law by allowing the disciples to gather grain on the Sabbath, Jesus is "the Lord of the Sabbath" and he can make the Sabbath whatever he very well pleases.

Similarly, although Jesus broke the letter (but not the spirit) of the law by not eating the Passover lamb, Jesus is "the Lord of the Passover" and he can make the Passover whatever he very well pleases.

If Jesus were here today he might reply: "the Passover was made for man, not man for the Passover. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Passover".

Even if we assume that this is incorrect and Jesus ate all kinds of meat, Jesus would never have eaten factory farmed meat.

Not just because factory farms had not been invented yet... But because this would have been a sin for him to do.


Jesus Declared All Foods Clean

Of all of the items on this list, this is the saddest one to me.

A two second Google search could easily prove this is not true.

Sadly, a lot of Christians do not take the time to verify what they hear. 

In Mark 7:18-19, Jesus supposedly "declares all food clean" which supposedly means that people can now have a free for all and eat all kinds of meat including bacon and all kinds of foods that were previously declared "unclean" and not permissible to eat.

There are so many problems with this understanding of this verse that it makes you wonder how such a lie could live for so long. 

The first issue is that we know for a fact that Jesus did not actually say this simply by how the verse is worded.

The words are in the third person meaning that Jesus did not actually say them.

Now, it is possible to argue that this is what Jesus meant, but the first point to make is that we have no record that Jesus actually said it.

It should also be noted that "(thus he declared all foods clean)" does not occur in all translations of the Bible and for those that it is included in, these verses are contained in parenthesis.

The truly absurd part comes when we look at the context of the surround verses.

By looking at the surrounding verses from Matthew 15:15-20, we can see that in Matthew 15:20 Jesus says "these are what defiles a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them".

In other words, Jesus was talking about unwashed hands.

If the tradition was that Jesus declared all foods clean, why did the author of Matthew not state it here? The answer is simple.

Jesus was not talking about eating animals.

As we will see in a future post, Peter's dream also proves that Jesus never declared all foods clean. (Unless of course we wish to claim that Peter had amnesia!)

Jesus was born a Jew, lived a Jew, and died a Jew; he never would have revoked the laws of Kosher unless it was to make the law even more ethical (like he did in the Sermon on the Mount).


Animals and Humans Have the Same Worth

This is the most common misconception I hear.

I am not aware of any animal rights activist who thinks that animals have the same worth as humans. It is self-evident that humans have more worth than animals.

To better understand what animal rights activist are really trying to describe, the best way to demonstrate the difference is by defining "equal worth" compared to "equal consideration".

Animal Rights activists do not want humans and animals to have "equal worth", they want humans and animals to have "equal consideration".

For example, if I am in minor discomfort, and an animal is in excruciating pain, the pain of that animal is worth more than my own pain even though I am a human that is worth more than that animal.

By the term "equal consideration", we mean that we imagine ourselves as both the human and the animal equally. Even though I am worth more, if I am giving both me and the animal equal consideration, the animals pain takes precedence over my own pain.

It is easy to imagine myself as myself because I am, well, myself.

To imagine myself as an animal (or any other human for that matter) is slightly harder but by no means difficult.

Most of us own dogs and cats and instinctively know when they are in pain or when they are happy. We can also study the science behind what animals experience.

The Golden Rule ("treat others how you would want to be treated if you were them") applies equally as much to animals as it does to humans.

As a Christian Golden Rule activist, all I want you to do is treat animals how you would want to be treated if you were them.

It should be fairly self-evident to realize that you would not want to be sent through a factory farm, hunted down, painfully experimented upon, or sent through a slaughterhouse if you happened to be born as an animal.

All I ask is for Golden Rule consistency to be applied to the animals.

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