His Eye is on the Sparrow: Animal Welfare and Christian Responsibility

I am a born again believer and my relationship with Jesus Christ remains the most important aspect of my life. And though every day I fall so very short of what I can and should be as a child of God and a representative of Christ on Earth, my faith informs every aspect of my life.

So much of my walk of faith has been shaped from my earliest memories by those closest to me, dear ones who share my faith and my struggles, the challenges of living a Christ-like life in an un-Christ-like world.
My faith has carried over in important ways to my relationship with animals. I have held precious animals as they took their last breath. I have fed abandoned kittens and cradled them all night long when they were too tiny to sustain their own body heat.

As a Christian, I love all living things, including animals. In fact, for me, the love of animals is profoundly and inextricably bound up with my faith in Christ. Unfortunately, this fierce and enduring connection between faith and animal fellowship is not something many of my fellow Christians share. I have known many deeply faithful Christians who refused to pray for a sick, injured, or lost animal because they believed that animals were not possessed of souls. For them, to pray for a soulless creature would be a form of disrespect—if not sacrilege.

And that is the challenge that so many Christians face. It is the dichotomy between compassion and apathy which, as a Christian and an animal rescuer and advocate, chills me to the bone.

The soul is composed of 3 elements: a Mind to think, a Heart to feel emotions, and a Will to decide. Animals, just as humans, possess these characteristics.Animals can become sad, and depressed, if mistreated.

Likewise, animals are happy and content when we respect them as creatures of God's divine handiwork and omnipotence.


Many Christians base their relationship with animals on Genesis 1: 26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (KJV).

It is this idea of “dominion” which so often drives Christian attitudes toward animal, all too often leading to negligence in the best cases and to brutality in the worst. The 2017 online edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “dominion”, alternatively, as “supreme authority” and “absolute ownership.”
Far too often, though, Christians distort and abuse this idea of “absolute ownership” for their own selfish gains, for reasons that have nothing to do with adherence to God’s commandments. In the name of “dominion,” they may discard or kill an animal whose care has become too costly, asserting that this is the God-given right of the proprietor to dispose of his “belongings” as he sees fit. They may “punish” or “break” an animal who does not submit to human will—an animal who does not easily take to the yoke or the bridle, who does not perform adequately at aquatic parks or in circuses, an animal that dares to exhibit aggression against a human, no matter how grossly it has been treated. In the name of human “dominion”, animals are relegated to the backyards of our homes, spending their entire lives crushed and torn by the weights of heavy chains, left alone to languish in the heat of summer and to tremble in the agonies of winter, subsisting on dirty water and insect infested food as the sounds of the family’s laughter and the scent of bounteous food wafts from the kitchen window. 
In the name of “dominion”—and commerce—animals spend their lives in cramped cages, bearing litter after litter to of “high-end” purebreds and coveted “designer” mixes, even as their bones deform to the shape of their wire prisons, their skin crawls with vermin and flames with bites, their sight clouds from lifetimes spent in darkness, and their spirit erodes from a life that has never known kindness, never felt the touch of a gentle hand, never heard the soft voice of Christ-like compassion.
Around the world, every day, animals are either skinned alive, or boiled alive so that their fur can be harvested in the service of human vanity. They are cut, poisoned, tortured, and brutalized before their lives are finally taken to support so-called “research” that too often provides no tangible benefit to humanity whatsoever. To meet humans’ insatiable gluttony, sows are confined for their entire lives in nursing pens with no room even to lie down or turn around; chickens are stuffed into cramped cages with thousands of other birds, suffering broken bones and suffocation in the crushing throng; cattle are stunned with electric prods and their throats slit before being hung from by their hind legs to bleed slowly to death. And these are horrors that are repeated countless times each day on a global scale.
In my life, I have seen terrible things: animals starved and beaten: Cats so traumatized by abuse they were scheduled for euthanasia because their fear of humans made them “unadoptable”; dogs burned, shot, beaten, and stabbed.America is a purportedly Christian nation where humanity is said to prevail…
In the name of some supposed God-given hierarchy, the welfare of non-human animals is deemed secondary, non-essential, an afterthought, or even a luxury that only the wealthy, the indulgently softhearted, or the foolish can afford. And this is all not only rationalized but presented as a divine right and duty, a commandment from God.
But I know another Jesus. The Jesus I know is the Jesus of love. Of mercy. Of tenderness and of loving kindness. My Jesus is the Jesus whose eye is on the sparrow, the One who witnesses each sparrow’s fall. Note Luke 12: 6, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (KJV) and Psalm 50: 10-11: “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. / I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine” (KJV italics original).
We, as Christians, do not own these animals. WE do not hold supreme authority over them. They belong, always, and forever, to God, their Creator, and it is in Him that supreme authority rests. We are stewards. We are not proprietors. We are caretakers, not creators. So, when His eye is on the sparrow, know that it is also on the keeper of the sparrow. When He claims His cattle, His fowl, His beasts of the field, be certain that the stewards charged with their care will be called to account.
If we are to be Christians, the we must be Christ-like—and at the heart of this is love; it is compassion; it is wonder in and reverence for the works of divine creation, particularly those imbued with the sacred breath of life. Only when we learn to do this, to exercise the tender-loving care for all creatures that God has so abundantly and undeservedly heaped upon us that we will truly understand what it means to worship.Only then we will truly have the capacity to see and to reverence His works as we should. Only then will we truly be the representatives of Christ that we are called to be. Because the Bible says that the animals have much to teach us: “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: / Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. / Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? / In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12: 7-10, KJV). How many more precious innocents must suffer and die before we finally learn?