Making the Good Book animal-friendly
Chronicling the madness of political
correctness is a never-ending affair. One perennial contender for the Fruitloop
of the Year is PETA -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I have taken
to naming it People Ever Thinking Askew.
Well, it seems that these good folks have
been at it again. No, I am not referring to PETA’s current offer of a free
vasectomy if you have your dog or cat neutered. (Applications close on
No, I have in mind their proposal to
rewrite the Good Book. Given that this is basically a secular activist group which
seldom invokes divine assistance in their struggle to free animals from bondage
to non-feathered bipeds, it is odd of them to claim expertise in Scripture
studies. Perhaps they won some free Hebrew classes in a raffle.
Believe it or not, they have written to
the Committee on Bible Translation demanding that all “speciesist” language
in the Bible be removed. Here is how PETA puts it on their website:
about the latest translation of the New International Version of the Bible --
which uses gender-inclusive language such as ‘he or she’ instead of ‘he’ --
PETA has written to the Committee on Bible Translation to suggest that its next
translation also remove speciesist language by referring to animals as ‘he or
she’ instead of ‘it.’ In the letter, PETA points out that many modern writers
are using ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and ‘who’ in place of the inaccurate ‘it’ and ‘which’ to
refer to an animal.
Bible's language regarding animals would not only reflect modern writing trends
but also reinforce the idea that animals are living beings valued by God, not
inanimate objects,’ says PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich. ‘Jesus taught us
the importance of mercy and compassion, and this update would encourage mercy
and compassion for all God's creatures - including those who have feathers,
fins, and fur’.”
So the next time you page through the Bible
and discover that the translation refers to a pig or a bird as “it”, make sure
you scribble out the offensive pronoun and replace it with “he” or “she”. You
may think that this initiative is odd, but it is consistent with PETA’s
philosophy. Its president, Ingrid Newkirk, has proudly proclaimed that “A rat
is a pig is a dog is a boy.”
That’s right, there is no difference in
PETA’s eyes between a human being and a rat. We are all one big happy family. I
am reminded of another animal rights’ activist, Peter Singer, who has claimed
that while it is in bad taste to eat animals, there is no morally compelling
reason why we cannot have sex with them.
But here we have PETA seeking a Biblical
foundation for their agenda. Sorry, but they need to read Scripture a bit more
carefully. While animals, like the rest of creation, need to be treated with
respect, they are not on a par with human beings.
Only humans are made in the image of God;
only humans are the object of Christ’s sacrificial death; and only humans will
have an eternal destiny. Sure, humans share with animals the fact that we are
all creatures, while God is the creator, distinct from us.
But on the level of personhood, only humans
share common ground with God. Animals, rocks, trees and other created things are
not persons. To conflate humans with non-humans is always one-way traffic for
these folks. While they may talk about raising animals to the level of humans,
what really happens is that humans are dragged down to the level of animals.
When humans are dehumanised and
depersonalised, terrible things can happen. The Communists and the Nazis both regarded
humans as a part of the evolutionary continuum. Because humans were seen as not
special, they were dispensable. Thus scores of millions were slaughtered last
century in the name of these evolutionary worldviews.
Treating animals humanely is a hallmark of
a civilised society. But we do neither animals nor humans any favours by confusing
G.K Chesterton once said: “A society is in
decay, final or transitional, when common sense really becomes uncommon.” He
had a point.
Muehlenberg is a lecturer in ethics and philosophy at several Melbourne
theological colleges and a PhD candidate at Deakin University.
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