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  • Shawn Thornton

Pet Owners vs. Pet Parents

Monday - October 12th

Scripture to Read Today: Proverbs 12:1-28

The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel.

Proverbs 12:10 NLT


A friend who works in advertising told me a few years ago to listen carefully to how pet food television commercials refer to people who have pets. So, I took notice.

I remember the wide range of styles used by pet food commercials on TV in the 1970s. Who can forget the Chuck Wagon coming out of the television, racing around the living room while being chased by a dog, and then ending up running back into the TV? Dogs chased the Chuck Wagon to get the brand's enticing food. Then, of course, there was Morris, the finicky cat with the sassy, sophisticated voice who could not help but succumb to the offer of "9 Lives" cat food.

Commercials like these referred to those people who had pets in their homes as "pet owners." They would suggest that better "pet owners" used a particular brand because it was best for their dogs or cats. Fast forward to the last decade or so, and you will notice the language has changed to "smart pet parents." Owners have become parents. My friend made a simple observation without a condemning judgment. Most people thought of themselves as pet parents back in the 70s. Advertising has now caught up.

We live in a time where the value of animals' lives has been lifted to an equal status of human beings in many circles. Cruelty to animals has become a serious crime while taking an unborn child's life has become a humane choice. Now, not all folks who consider themselves pet parents have lost a sense of God-given value of human life. Many can place the highest value on human life and enjoy a pet parent role with a beloved dog or cat. The Bible suggests we can do both.

Psalm 139 speaks of the intricate design and unfathomable value a child has while being formed by God in a mother's womb. God puts the highest value on human life - after all, we are made in His image and have His very breath in our lungs. God stepped back after each day of creation and saw that what He had made that day was "good." He gave us human beings the care of all of creation. We are to be stewards of the universe and all that it contains. We should be the ones that promote and live out correct environmental care (whether or not global climate change is "real" or a "hoax"). But, we should always hold the value of human life higher than anything else God has made without casually destroying God's gift of the universe to us.

As part of that creation care given to us by God, we should not be cruel to animals (including our pets). Proverbs 12:10 says this as it reads in the New Living Translation (NLT): "The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel." I'm not sure God cares whether or not you call yourself a pet owner or a pet parent. However, I am sure he would not have you treat your pets poorly. He does not want us as human beings to be unnecessarily cruel to any animals - even when killing livestock for food.

While this is not a Public Service Announcement from PETA or the Humane Society, there is a biblical insight of wisdom in how we treat animals. They are a gift to us from God. Many of us have been blessed by a pet's presence in a particular season of life struggle. All of us are wise to understand our God-given responsibility for all of creation - including animals.

Not being cruel to animals is not just about being a pet owner or parent. It's about our God-given stewardship of creation!

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