"All the earth is filled with His Glory" (Isaiah 6:3)

It's very common for us Christian animal advocates to run into another Christian who doesn't share our compassionate view of God's animals. These folks will usually give us a litany of Scripture verses to try to convince us that it's okay to eat animals, that there's nothing wrong with it. The problem with this approach, aside from blatant proof-texting, is that it doesn't address the problem. It ignores the plight of God's animals in the world today; it ignores how this affects our health, the poor in this world, our planet and it ignores our responsibility as Christians to be wise and compassionate stewards of God's creation.


There are many Scripture verses that seem to support consuming animal flesh, but there are other Scripture verses that favor God's animals, that are pro-animal life, that support caring for animals, that support not eating them and not killing them. We shouldn't just see the verses that support what we want, we should look at all of Scripture and then choose the path that gives life and love to God's animals--not suffering and death. We certainly do not want to contribute to the oppression and exploitation of God's animals. What would Jesus eat today?  Would He be compassionate to His animals? Or would He not care about them?  Do we serve a God of love or a God of oppression?


Jesus ate fish right? Yes He did (See Luke 24:41-43). It is no secret to theologians that a fish is a symbol of Jesus. Regarding Jesus eating fish, St. Augustine, says that the fish "represent the faith of the martyrs that have gone through the fiery trials of suffering." With respect to a similar passage in John 21, Augustine writes that "[the fish roasted is Christ having suffered." Clearly there's a lot of rich meaning behind "fish" in the Gospel. Bottom line, Jesus eating fish is not a permission for us to eat fish. Jesus is more concerned with the deeper meaning behind this action and what it really means to us spiritually. Jesus eating fish points to Holy Communion (the Eucharist). Don't get lost in the fish but look at the spiritual reality it points to. This verse about Jesus eating fish is not, again, a permission to eat fish. That just simply isn't the theme or topic presented here.


In Luke 5:1-11 Jesus helped Peter make a great catch; so great that they were unable to carry the net. Fish also appear to be a symbol for "Christians" or "a Christian." Here Jesus used fish to teach Peter deeper lessons, that he will always provide Himself in abundance (in Holy Communion) and that Peter will be a "catcher of men." Again, don't get lost in the fish. This Scripture passage is not about catching and eating fish, it is about evangelizing people, bringing people to Jesus so they will become believers and followers. The fish died and were probably eaten but somehow I get that even the fish cooperated with God to teach men important lessons here. They obeyed God willingly when they went into the fish net. Oh wow, animals were the first martyrs for Jesus. They represent the true followers of Jesus who follow the Lord even unto death. There are other mentions of fish in the Gospel. Just remember that they are used as pointers to a deeper spiritual reality or truth. One final time, don't get lost in the fish.


Jesus multiplied fish for the crowds in the multiplication of the loaves miracles. The fish here, again, represent or prefigure the body of Christ in Holy Communion (the Eucharist) where Christians have since traditionally partaken in the real body and blood of the Lord (Holy Communion). Focus on the deeper reality the fish point to here. Don't get lost in the fish. This, again, is not a permission to eat fish. That just simply isn't the message Jesus wanted to portray through these miracles. Something deeper happened here.


In Genesis 9:1-13 soon after the flood had receded, God gave Noah and his sons permission to eat every creature that is alive, however when God said "every creature" I don't think God meant "other humans" because humans are creatures too and I don't think humans should be eaten by humans. And what about the women? Did they not get permission? Only Noah and his sons received this permission according to Scripture. God told Noah and his sons that every animal would fear them; probably because this was soon after the flood and God wanted to protect Noah and his sons from the animals such as lions, wolves, snakes etc. We have to note that Noah and his family were righteous, obedient and kind people whom God was pleased with. They didn't eat animals before the flood so they had no lust for animal flesh as Christians do today. They were not addicted to animal flesh as Christians are today. They received permission from God to eat every animal but it wasn't a commandment. It was an option. If they were righteous and obedient people who loved God, I'm willing to bet that many of them did not opt for meat, unless there was nothing else to eat. I don't think they found it easy to kill animals after having spent so much time with them on the ark. So this permission to eat animals had to be an "only when necessary" type of permission. I don't think it was a license to exploit and abuse animals. I don't believe that God wanted humans to become addicted to eating animal flesh, which if consumed in great amounts can bring disease and a premature death to humans.


God formed a covenant with Noah and his family and also with the animals that were on the ark. God promised that He would never destroy them by a great flood again. Today animals are being destroyed by humans, by hunters, by experimenters, by politicians and by greedy business men who are profiting in every way possible by selling animal body parts and excretions.


Acts, chapter 10:1-28 is probably the most misinterpreted Scripture by those who support eating God's animals. If you will read about Peter's vision and what God revealed to him you will learn that the theme and message here is about bringing God's salvation to the Gentiles. It is not a permission to eat God's animals. In fact, animals are not the theme here. God merely used the animal analogy/vision to reveal to Peter that he should not view the Gentiles as impure or unclean. It's there, READ IT. Acts, chapter 10:1-28 is about the Gentiles, not animals. Sorry, there's no "kill and eat animals" permission or commandment here, but there does seem to be a commandment to invite non-believers to follow Jesus.


© 2019 by John Abel 

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