Is it just me, or does there seem to be a lot of talk surrounding poor animal welfare lately?
Over the past month my Facebook feed revealed numerous posts urging people to sign the Change.org petition begging the president of China to put a stop to the inhumane slaughter and consumption of over 10,000 cats and dogs at the annual Yulin Festival in China.
A few months ago, the Australian greyhound industry was found to be using live piglets, rabbits, and even native, protected possums to encourage the dogs to race faster.
Earlier this year investigators discovered Australian cattle exported to Vietnam were slaughtered by methods regarded as animal cruelty.
In all the media attention these issues have received I have not heard any Christian input into the debate. Perhaps it is because Christians believe animals lack a soul or a conscience that deems animal welfare an insignificant issue? Or the general consensus that God placed animals on the earth for humans to utilise as they please?
God's vision for our world
Many friends told me about an extraordinary exhibition at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art last yearâCai Guo-Qiang's Falling Back to Earth. The display consisted of a variety of animals all gathered around a pool of water to drink. Picture tigers and antelopes, a horse and a bear all drinking together in harmony.
In a perfect world, animals live in peace and harmony with each other and with humans. This was not only the vision of Cai Guo-Qiang, but was also God's intent on how the world should have been.
While the book of Genesis states we are to rule over the earth, including the animals, this did not come without responsibilities. God did not place animals on the earth solely for humans to useârather humans were placed on earth to be in charge of caring for his creation.
An ignored priority
Therefore, I feel the issue of animal welfare is of great interest to Christians. If we believe God created our earth and all the creatures in it, if we believe God gave us the capabilities to look after it, then animal welfare should be a major priority for all Christians.
In saying this, I am not advocating for all Christians to become radical animal activists, or for mandatory vegetarianism. There are a number of other worldly issues that are also worthy of a Christian's time and efforts. However, I truly believe God is disappointed with how the world abuses the responsibility of utilising animals.
Viewing animals as nothing more than a product to be mass-produced the cheapest way possible, or as objects with no capacity for emotion is far from viewing animals as God does.
Today, it seems Christians have stepped away from their God-given mandate to care for creation. As a group in society, we have a reason to value them mostâwe believe they are part of God's creation.
Consider the efforts of the famous Christian politician William Wilberforce, well-known for his efforts to end the slave trade in the British Empire. Wilberforce was among the group of activists who campaigned for laws preventing cruelty to animals, eventually forming the RSPCA. Wilberforce's faith in God helped him to view this world rightly, and have respect for God's creation.
Speaking up for animals
Efforts to speak up for animals could be as simple as signing a petition, ensuring the animal products you buy meet basic welfare standards, or buying your next pet from your local pound instead of the pet shop.
There are many problems with the operating of animal industries, not all of them have an obvious or simple solution, but even small acts of support have their effects.
I strongly believe this is an issue where Christians need to raise their voices to champion for God's creation. By speaking up for animals we are showing the world we truly believe the earth was created by God and deserves to be respected as such.
Kelly Bingham is a University student with a love of animals amongst other things and is studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. She lives on campus and loves to socialise and get with the other University students and the elders at her church near university and at home. In her free time she likes sewing, reading, running by the beach and taking photos for her own fashion blog.
Kelly Bingham's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/kelly-bingham.html