Monday, March 21, 2011

Animals and the Fifth Commandment--Fixing an Incompletion

Since I'm talking about Issues, Etc., let me first crow a little bit about being selected by Jeff once again for "Blog of the Week", this time for my March 11 post "News Flash".  (Right click on this link right here to save the show to your computer, and then listen to Todd praise brevity.)  Cool beans!  It is always an honor to be selected, and it says a lot about the quantity and quality of the dissemination of Lutheran teaching over the Internet that such a beneficial show would have a "Blog of the Week" segment.

About a year ago, I was invited to appear on the Issues Etc. radio program on a round-table discussion of the Fifth Commandment.  (Right-click on this link right here to save the show, and then listen to me sound like a buffoon who is just learning to speak the English language.)  While I was on the show, Todd asked me a question regarding animals and whether the Fifth Commandment applies to our treatment of animals.  I babbled on, something about how the anger that a man demonstrates in "throwing his parrot against the wall" is the same anger which leads a man to murder another man.  I focused mostly on the treatment of domestic animals, barely touching on the food aspect of our treatment of animals.  I can only plead extreme nervousness due to this being my first live radio appearance. 

We've been studying the book of Genesis in Bible class on Sunday mornings--and you're invited to join us, by the way.  I'm preparing chapter 9 for next week or the week after, depending on how quickly we finish chapter 8.  In reading Genesis 9, it occurred to me that I had missed the point of the question Todd had asked.  Here's the background: In Genesis 1 God created man.  Moses writes:
28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.
Here we see the Lord setting apart "every green herb" as edible and good for food, both for man and the animals. 

After the flood, the Lord changes the relationship between man and animals.  Moses writes:
2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.
Whether or not man has eaten animals before this point, man now has the divine sanction to eat the meat of animals.  God doesn't necessarily answer in Genesis 9 the question of hunting animals only for sport, though Genesis 9 does speak only of the use of animals for food.  Then again, though they surely exist, I have yet to meat a hunter that kills an animal and doesn't use the meat for food, whether or not he mounts the animal head on his wall.  (Don't mean to sound sexist here, by the way, as I know a number of women who hunt, as well, and proudly display their trophies and eat the meat of the animals they have hunted.)  I will save for another day the discussion about the humane treatment of animals by those who raise animals to sell in mass quantities.

Listening again to what I said in the round-table, I didn't necessarily say anything that was wrong.  Rather, what I said was incomplete.  

Still, please don't throw your parrot against the wall.

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