Is Religion Going to the Dogs?

By Wayne Jackson

David Pharr is a respected minister and writer who lives in South Carolina. He edits an excellent monthly journal, Carolina Messenger.

In the April ’04 issue, David had a fascinating article based upon a recent piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Among other things, the Journal article stated: “With pews hard to fill, a small number of otherwise-traditional clergy are welcoming animals into the flock.” The author then mentioned “pet-friendly” services, house calls for sick pets, and pet funerals.

One Episcopal church in Connecticut has even had a “communion service” in which both cats and dogs were granted the privilege of partaking of a “host” bread (a dog biscuit, we assume; or perhaps Meow Mix). Some churches and synagogues are inviting members to bring their cats, dogs, guinea pigs, and even pet snakes. One Jewish synagogue has a song in which a “pet prayer” is offered in these words: “May God always shield you from fleas.” What about the fleas? Aren’t they God’s creatures too? This is intolerable “flea discrimination.” Surely there must be a passage somewhere that admonishes, “Flee flea-fighters.”

Sound ridiculous? It does indeed. But when folks no longer find solid Bible teaching sufficient, they seem to become desperate to find something that will appeal to the world. We constantly are being told that if we don’t have some kind of “song and dance” routine to entice the “baby boomers” and “yuppies,” they will migrate to the “community churches” where drama presentations and gymnasiums have become the modern “Pied Pipers.”

If it is the case that man may become a “law unto himself,” and simply “make up” the rules as he goes along, why not incorporate our pets into the services? Perhaps we could have some “yuppie puppies.” Once you have gotten over the “hang up” about the need for Bible authority for what you practice in religious activity, “anything goes” becomes the name of the game. And a deadly “game” it is! Think about the following.

  1. If a church may dispense with the divine requirements of belief and repentance, as prerequisites for water baptism (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38), and administer baptism to dead fetuses (as Catholicism does), and baptize sinless babes “for the forgiveness of sins” (as many Protestants do), why might it not also be acceptable to initiate a “pet baptismal service”? A few years back, a well-known minister contended that his dog would be in heaven. Why not, then, have a “doggie baptism”? But would that imply that there is a “bad dog” or a “bad cat” hell?
  2. If a church may disregard God’s marriage law, which stipulates that a marriage covenant can take place only between a man and a woman, and institute same-sex “marriages,” or “domestic partner” unions (with full spousal benefits buttressed by law) – as seems to be the growing fad – what is to prevent advocates of “human-pet marriages” from seeking legal sanction for their aberration? Will pet lovers be lining up at city hall in San Francisco before long? It seems that just about anything can get “legalized” in San Francisco. Tony Bennett left his “heart” in San Francisco; someone ought to leave his “brain” there. The “City by the Bay” seems to be a bit bereft of that commodity.

Is human reasoning-ability becoming virtually extinct? Has moral outrage taken on the status of an outmoded emotion that has died in the hearts of all except those who are deemed to be “radical, right-wing fundamentalists”? Have we lapsed into such an intellectual stupor that we have to send decisions of this nature to Washington, D.C. for nine divided and oft confused Justices to figure out?

If human beings can simply “make up” laws for social conduct, where is the termination point? These are frightening times. The people of God must let their voices be heard.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.