Pro Life—But Not Really


I don’t normally talk politics here, but an issue facing Ohio voters illustrates for me what is most hypocritical about a wide swath of American Evangelicalism. And it’s a stupid, mindless hypocrisy at that.

Stick with me for what seems like a political tangent at the beginning of this post, because it ultimately leads into a skewering of that hypocrisy.

Ohio Issue 2 affects farmers who own animals, pushing for the creation of a state animal husbandry oversight commission comprised of in-state farming reps to ensure the humane care of farm animals. Beyond the “fox guarding the henhouse” nature of the bill, many supporters are claiming it’s a first strike to keep such control in-state, preempting similar (and possibly more draconian) measures by PETA, HSUS, or the feds.

I live in a farming area and would like to own animals some day. I have yet to see a “Vote NO on Issue 2” sign anywhere in my area, and I would suppose that’s largely because farmers around here are scared to death of anything that smacks of commie pinko environmentalists.

Sadly, Issue 2 is akin to being given a choice of which of your feet you would prefer to be shotgunned. Adding more bureaucracy, whether it comes from the state, feds, PETA, or HSUS, is really no choice at all. My choice is that all the bureaucrats would make like lemmings and find a high, oceanside cliff from which to pierce the veil. (Okay, so I’m a wee bit libertarian in that regard.)

I can easily see a future under a YES vote on Issue 2 where it would cost me thousands of state-induced “convenience fees” and a hundred pages of yearly paperwork just to own a couple goats and a half dozen chickens. Let’s be honest: Government loves getting its cut. Problem is, for small farmers like me, it’s death by a thousand cuts. The monstrosity known as agribusiness can absorb this without a blink, but I can’t—and neither can a bunch of my neighbors who have “YES on 2” signs in their front yards.

Which leads me to the question of why we need Issue 2 in the first place.

Obviously, some farmers in this state did NOT treat their animals humanely. And given that I have yet to meet an Ohio farmer who doesn’t swear some sort of allegiance to Jesus, I’ve got to believe that many of the same people who are upstanding members of their churches are also taking a blasé approach to caring for their farm animals. This holds true for nonfarmers, as a friend sent me a link to a missive circulating on Facebook wherein the conservative, homeschooling, nonfarming author talked about “dumb animals” and the stupidity of caring about their “emotional well-being.”

I am not a vegetarian. I have no ethical problems consuming food animals. I also believe that human beings, who are made in the image of God, are of infinitely more value than animals or plants. That anyone should blur those lines of value is anathema to me.

But I also get a little sick of folks, especially Christians (who should know better), who turn beet red over the issue of killing the unborn yet who seem to have no qualms despoiling Creation. Live, squished chickensHow can a person claim to be pro-life yet show so little care for nonhuman life? I mean, it makes little sense to me to sob over the killing of babies then turn around and hack to pieces a black rat snake in one’s garden for no reason other than not liking snakes. Yet I see such disregard all the time.

Maybe it’s the prevalence of hyperdispensationalism, which fosters a mentality that “it’s all gonna burn some day” and turns some Christians into abusers of Creation. “Tear down the forest and fill in the wetlands so we can make way for the Christian amusement park. Animals don’t have souls anyway, so if we kill ’em, even indiscriminately, what difference does it make? Why are all those environmental wackos up in arms about another extinct species? And who needs a rainforest anyway if Jesus is coming back to tomorrow? I mean, I just L-O-V-E the rosewood flooring on my 5,500 square foot home I share with my wife and daughter!”

Issue 2 in Ohio would have no reason to be if all “Christian” farmers treated their animals—even those destined for the dinner table—with the respect we should afford living creatures. That many didn’t pretty much ensured that someone with a more holistic view on life was going to step in sooner or later to clean up the mess. In other words, we pooped in our own sandbox and someone finally noticed. Now we’re all in trouble.

It saddens me to no end that we Christians, the ones who more than others should understand our charge to steward the Earth, are often the people who relentlessly abuse Creation. Most of us show little respect for the land, for the plants and animals that live on it. They seem to be a means to an end only, lacking any greater meaning than to fill our guts.

That’s a sad, expedient way of looking at life. All life. And it says something about how little care and the lack of thought we give to the life placed on this small globe by a loving Lord, who said:

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
—Luke 12:6

If we say we are pro-life, then let us respect all life, for all life comes from God and has meaning—even if we are too self-centered to see it.

8 thoughts on “Pro Life—But Not Really

  1. I agree with you regarding the hypocrisy. We, as Christians, all too often target one sin and ignore another. While I think that there is nothing wrong with killing animals for food or clothing, and I would resist PETA-esque standards protecting animals. I do believe that Christians should be leaders in all fields, including being stewards of the Earth.

    It’s shameful when secular organizations have to pick up the slack that Christians are leaving. Even more so on things that God commands.

    • e.,

      I believe that we Christians should be the “most human” of human beings, as we are the ones being transformed each day into the image of Jesus, who is the perfect human.

      No truth strikes me more and more as I age than this: Whatever ball Christians drop, the government or those with the most divergent worldview from ours will pick it up and run with it. And we Christians will HATE the direction they run. But then, who’s really to blame here?

      Don’t yell that in a crowded church on Sunday, though! 😉

  2. Jenny

    I do agree with you about the hypocrisy as well. I kept thinking while reading your remarks, “This is really about stewardship,” and you did use the S word toward the end. (Stewardship of creation does NOT mean despoiling the earth for human gain, but it also does NOT mean the earth would be better off without human intervention. It is something more moderate, in which there is an understanding that the grizzly on the porch needs to be relocated or put down if it’s too aggressive, but the black rat snake in the garden keeps the rodents from destroying your veggies and if you don’t like snakes, go around the long way to the tomato patch.) In the city, where I live, where we have to do the hundred pages of government forms just to raise chickens from eggs for 4H, I find my neighbors in the church more inclined toward PETA in their sympathies on this issue. Which I find just as alarming.

    It is indeed shameful that secular organizations are stepping in where the church has dropped the ball due to hypocrisy or ignorance of God’s word or indifference to His purpose. It is good that He has called for watchmen on the walls, and given them wisdom and skills to call His people back from their rabbit trails. Keep writing, Dan. It heartens me to read it, and I keep thinking of people I want to read Cerulean Sanctum because I think God can use it in their lives.

  3. Suzanne

    Great post. Christians, I believe, have lost much influence in the world because of things like this type of hypocrisy. I see it with animal “rights”, with the health care debate (I got mine, and those people without should just go get a job!), and abortion (most Christians would never admit it, but I believe really want it kept legal, just in case). If you talk the talk, you better walk the walk…

  4. Don Costello

    I have a brother-in-law who is not a Christian and wouldn’t care a whit to put four slugs in a mother and four baby raccoons if he found them in his corn crib that he uses to feed his cattle. I also have a dear friend who is a Christian who would go out of his way to kill a ground hog who digs holes in the land he uses to run his horses because if his horses step into one of those holes they could break a leg. I don’t have a problem with that. I also don’t have a problem with feeding cattle really well to fatten them up so that when they are slaughtered, there is more food on the table.I am an animal lover, I have had pets all my life, mostly dogs and I am all for their good treatment including taking them to the vet. But there has been at least one time where I chose to put my pet down rather than pay a $500.00 + vet bill that would seriously hinder the finances for my family. It was sad, but I would do it again in a second. I am going to vote for Issue 2. But I would have to be shown facts that it was the farmers abusing their animals that brought about this issue, rather than extremists like Peta just trying to muscle their way into the way Ohio or any state’s farmers handle their animals.
    God Bless You!

    • Don,

      Man was given dominion, but dominion is not license for abuse. I have no issues with killing problem animals or food animals. But factory farms are not the most humane managers of food animals, and some are downright despicable.

      As Rod Dreher showed in his book Crunchy Cons, the people who lose big when agricultural oversight boards crop up are the small guys, usually the ones who are doing things right in the first place. Often, smaller farmers are unable to meet the requirements of such boards simply because they don’t have the finances to meet the crushing demands, which are often ludicrously applied. Dreher cites the case of a small organic poultry farmer who was told he had to have a full-time, FDA-certified inspector on his grounds at all time, even though the guy only had a few hundred chickens. When such an inspector makes $60,000+ per year, you can see how the little guy is destroyed by this kind of bureaucratic nonsense.

  5. Steve

    Explain to your children they will be resurrected here (on the earth) and will reign here (on the earth) with Christ.

    Earthly stewardship becomes a presupposition.

    It puzzles me as to why church people all claim they are leaving.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Because Fluffy Cloud Heaven replaced Resurrection of the Body as the Christian afterlife somewhere in Victorian times. (I suspect it was the Victorian mania for Sentimental Romanticism.)

      And Darbyite Dispensationalism mixed with the trauma of World War One shifted the Second Coming from Post-Mil (which implies building the Millenium as God’s hands in the world) to Pre-Mil Pre-Trib (“Twinkle twinkle coming Christ/Beam ME up to Paradise”). And when Fundamentalism coalesced into a separate movement (with the usual church schisms), it reacted to the Post-Mils Social Gospel without personal salvation with a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation — Say the Magic Words and Wait for Christ to Beam You Up.

      When The World Ends Tomorrow (at the latest) and It’s All Gonna Burn, you’re NOT going to make long-range plans or attempt great things.

      When your only goal is Keeping Your Nose Squeeky-Clean so you’ll pass God’s Litmus Test and get Beamed Up, you’re NOT going to take any risks.

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