Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals.

This post has taken awhile to publish. I used to be bold and outspoken to a fault -- and to an extent that was not good. I am still learning the balance between speaking the truth and having understanding for where other folks are at in their own faith journey. This is not meant to be a diatribe against anyone, but a confession of what I was convicted of as well as an exhortation for you, too, to search your heart and see if any of this resonates. 

There is a lot of readily available information on this subject out there. I refrained from including much specific information because I did not want this to be a propaganda piece, but leave it to you to do your own research to the degree you feel comfortable.

Also, this is a post specifically speaking to my friends who claim Christ as their identity, though there are many non-religious reasons to pursue this cause.

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“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals” -- Proverbs 12:10

As Christians we believe that Christ has promised to return to this earth and make all things new. He will bring justice to all things unjust and renew that which has decayed. The thing is, we don't know exactly when that is going to happen. The other thing is, we have been given a charge to pray and work for His kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven.

There are so many injustices happening in this world that it can be hard to think about. I often find myself actively trying to avoid thinking about difficult things that seem out of my control. It seems like it is too much. Factory farmed meat has been an issue that I have pushed to the back of my mind for years and years. I labeled it as an extremist issue and was able to convince myself it was only something for the bleeding hearts to deal with.

What I eventually had to face was the fact that those crazy radical vegans and vegetarians and animal rights activists are telling a truth that most of us, myself included, do not want to hear. The things we do to animals are so horrific, so beyond what your brain will want to grasp, that I am sure you already want to stop reading this. Please don’t.

What I gradually realized was that with every dollar I spent on factory-produced meat, I was paying for someone somewhere to mistreat an animal. This mistreatment can be as indirect as poor living conditions: animals spending their lives chest deep in feces or cramped in cages so tight they cannot turn around. This mistreatment can be as direct as factory farm workers raping a mother pig with a broom handle, throwing male laying-breed chicks live into the equivalent of a wood chipper.

These terrible things are not the exception to the rule, they are the rule. These are standard conditions in standard factory-farm and slaughterhouse situations.

Factory-farmed animals, which make up the majority of the meat consumed in America, are living lives of unending misery with no reprieve between birth and death.

I think it requires little Biblical backup to realize that supporting such a system is horribly wrong and horribly against any teaching of Christ. Jesus said that God cares even for the sparrows – even for the hogs, dairy cattle, laying hens, broiler chicks. One of God’s first commands to mankind was to care for His creation, not excluding animals. 

Are there other major issues that we as Christians should also be concerned with? Oh, absolutely. As Christians we should not support any evils that are happening in the world. We should work to be well-informed of these evils and to do what we can to oppose them. We should make sure that our money does not go towards the support of them. But does the presence of other horrors in the world mean we should turn our backs to something we could simply say no to? Absolutely not.

Dear friends, this is a hard thing. It is a thing that I have been personally working through for three years now. It is a thing I do not write about lightly. Because the worst part in my personal confession of condoning these things? I spent over a year eating a vegetarian diet and then transitioning to only eating ethically raised meat... then I spent this past year eating almost exclusively factory-raised meat. I had full knowledge of what I was doing and did it anyway. I knew what I was supporting by purchasing McDonald’s hamburgers, Longhorn steaks, and I did it anyway.

I had no justification for eating factory produced meat. It was not essential for me to remain healthy and there are great local farms that raise their animals ethically. The only justification I ever found for eating factory meat? That I wanted to. That I felt like it. That I was really craving some wings with honey-gold barbecue sauce. That it was cheap. And for that, for my tastebuds and gluttony, I was willing to allow an animal to live a life of suffering and die an agonizing death.

God has pushed my heart to write to you about this. It isn’t easy. I know it seems crazy to many. Josh’s family doesn’t understand it at all and has had a hard time grasping why we’re no longer eating meat outside our home. Good Christian folks have a hard time understanding that it is even an issue; it seems like such a liberal, hippie, left-wing thing to care about.

God worked hard for Creation. His love for Creation does not stop at us. Do I believe that animals should have equal rights as people? No, I do not. But I do believe they deserve proper treatment, to live lives that allow them to act like the creatures they were designed to be. 

My challenge for you, my friends? To allow yourself to think about this issue. Making a change for the better in your own life is not complicated. It is as simple as putting your food dollars towards ethical meat.  


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If you are interested in learning more I highly recommend Jonathan Safran Foer’s incredible book Eating Animals. He is an amazing writer and has a powerful message that is neither pushy nor preachy. 

I also recommend watching the documentary Food Inc. that is both informative, encouraging, and interesting.

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