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Pets in Christ

by Michael Vasser

"A righteous man regards the life of his animal." Proverbs 12:10

The Scripture never explicitly discusses having pets. However, we think that the Lord does address pets fairly directly in his decree that man must be a benevolent steward of His environment.

I believe that having pets in my home has made my whole family better Christians. Our house now has two dogs, Bernie and Chad, both labs. Having them around for the past few years has given our kids the opportunity to practice daily what God teaches: caring, compassion, respect, and responsibility.

First, there’s the caring piece. I think the most important trait we can nurture in our children is empathy. It makes for better classrooms, better playground interactions, and more considerate, nurturing people when our kids become adults. With pets around, your children get a head start on friendships and other relationships. People hide emotions a lot of the time, or deflect. Dogs respond very openly, and are very communicative. Children learn from pets how to see when another of God’s creation is hurting, and needs help. Because children develop strong emotional connections to pets, they quickly learn to translate the joy they feel around their friend into caring, and empathy. That’s where it becomes compassion.

Second, there’s the respect and responsibility part of the equation. Bernie, our smaller lab, recently had an infection, and had to go to the vet for a minor operation. When we got him home, the girls were extremely considerate, compassionate, and wanted to nurture him. But Bernie didn’t want lots of hugs, because that hurt him. And that was a great opportunity to talk about respecting other peoples’ needs, and how to honor another person by treating them as they want to be treated. By having lots of meaningful interactions in the course of a given day, they learn about the consequences of their actions. If your pet’s water bowl isn’t cleaned up, they can quickly see how that translates into an unhappy pet. If they’re feeling lazy and don’t want to let the dog out, that has real consequences.

Learning about how one’s own actions affect those around us, human or canine, is one of the most valuable tools we have to teach Scripture. Animals are also a great way to schedule your Sabbath-day cleaning. We like to make sure we all clean together, so it never feels like something the parent places on the child. We all work together to share in the sense of household.

P.S. I know that the sheer amount of hair your dogs can generate tests even the best Christian’s sense of charity. If you’re currently struggling, so were we until we bought our most recent vacuum. It’s great because even our kids can use it. That really builds up more of that sense of responsibility, duty, and we think empowerment around taking care of pets.

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Welcome to! We’re a faith-based community based out of a small place of worship in Nebraska. We founded the Hall of Fellowship for all non-denominational Christians to get together and worship in an open, non-doctrinal setting. Our members have been turned off by the strict rules and arbitrary impositions of nearby churches and seminaries. We believe that everybody has their own special relationship with our Father, and we must celebrate each unique collection as a part of our worship.

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