Jump directly to the content

Saving Chimps, Serving God


Jul 23 2013
Is animal welfare (finally) returning to the Christian conscience?

Christians, more than anyone else, should be uneasy with animal suffering; yet, many view animal welfare as a secular humanist concern, leaving it to others to lead the charge to care for God's creatures.

Amid the perplexing dearth of Christian influence in the area of animal protection, Eric Metaxas highlighted on BreakPoint a New York Times story on the role an evangelical Christian—National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins—played in releasing hundreds of government-owned chimpanzees.

Collins teamed up with the famous Jane Goodall to retire nearly 360 of the NIH's chimps, releasing them into an animal sanctuary after they spent most or all of their lives in laboratory cages.

A 2011 study determined that chimps are unnecessary for most biomedical and behavioral research, and the U.S. is the only developed country that continues to use chimpanzees for invasive research and testing. Hundreds more chimpanzees will remain in other government-run laboratories after the release of these retired primates.

Their release is good news for taxpayers and anyone who loves happy animals. Just watch this video of other retired chimps being freed for the first time, and you'll see what I mean.

Christian thinking tends to be foggy on matters of animal protection, especially when we believe that their suffering will somehow benefit humans, forgetting that animals weren't created to save us. Leadership from someone like Collins in matters of humane stewardship of animals is welcome news indeed.

Many Christians accept or ignore the wide-scale suffering of animals under the justification of scientific "progress" or cheap meat (as a meat-eater, I include myself here). This perspective, though, reflects the influence of a modernist worldview more than biblical thinking.

After all, it wasn't the Bible but rather the father of modern philosophy, René Descartes, who helped popularize the idea that animals are mere machines to be put to human service. "Here is my library, from which I take my wisdom," Descartes told an observer as he dissected a calf. Descartes' disciples are said to have kicked their dogs and laughed to hear the "creaking of the machine."

In contrast, while the Bible mandates humans in Genesis 1:28 to rule over animals, other passages make clear that we are to do so with kindness: the Scriptures tell us not to muzzle the ox while it treads the grain and that the righteous one has regard for the life of his beast.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
A Lament for Louisiana After the Floods

A Lament for Louisiana After the Floods

As I grieve the tragedy in my home state, I’ve found solace in a surprising place.
Let Them Bake Cakes

Let Them Bake Cakes

The Great British Baking Show teaches me about offering and receiving friendship in a fractured world.
Why I’m Not a World-Changer

Why I’m Not a World-Changer

In my middle-age years, I’ve traded revolution for good old-fashioned faithfulness.
Our Bodies Are Imperfect Temples

Our Bodies Are Imperfect Temples

God dwells in us whether we’re Olympian-level muscular or morbidly obese.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

The Truth About Living with an Invisible Illness

God sees me and my pain even when others cannot.

Follow Us

Twitter

  • RT @LoveLifeLitGod: I'll be there in person speaking about arts, and women engaging the culture. You can join from home Thurs and Fri: http2026
  • "I want to be in the water, serving the gumbo, gutting a house with my dad, crying in a neighbor2019s arms2026" https://t.co/f3KoXnxGuD
  • On this week's @CTpodcasts, @biancaolthoff on her call to preach #TheCalling https://t.co/22colyIIXk
  • 201cJust pray, y2019all.201d https://t.co/f3KoXnxGuD
  • RT @dorcas_ct: "If there2019s anything I've learned in Kenya, it2019s that only those who are privileged think we can control our lives." https:/2026


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
Saving Chimps, Serving God