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The Bible and the Animal Liberation Movement

A Study of the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Animal Liberation, PETA, the Bible, and Christianity: How do Animal Rights leaders view religion and Christians?What does the Animal Liberation Movement believe about the rights of animals, and how do their beliefs compare to the Bible? Should animals have rights, or should people own and use animals as property? 

Are people superior to animals? Are we in the image of God, so we have dominion over them? May we wear clothing made from leather and fur? What about hunting, trapping, and farming? Should we eat meat, fish, or poultry? How do groups like PETA view the Bible and Christianity? Should Christian be vegetarians and believe in Animal Rights?

Introduction: Many people have doubts and questions about the proper treatment of animals.

Evolution teaches that humans evolved from animals and so are basically similar to animals in nature. This logically means we should treat animals by similar rules to how we treat humans.

Hinduism and similar religions, that practice idol worship and reincarnation, believe we should treat cows and other animals as sacred.

The Animal Rights or Animal Liberation movement argues that animals have rights basically similar to the rights of humans.

The purpose of this study is to consider the teaching of the Bible about the proper treatment of animals, especially in light of the fundamental beliefs and goals of the Animal Rights movement.

Organizations and leaders of Animal Liberation 

"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with more than seven hundred thousand members, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. Founded in 1980, PETA is dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals" - PETA web site.

PETA has acted as spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), an international underground organization that was founded in England. ALF has claimed responsibility for numerous raids and break-ins in the United States beginning in 1979. It reportedly liberates animals being used for entertainment, food, clothing, or experimental research. ALF has also allegedly issued personal threats to animal researchers and has allegedly set fires, defaced property, destroyed equipment, planted fake bombs, and stolen research videotapes. - Clifford Sherry, Animal Rights: A Reference Handbook, p3. 

"[The] books, Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals, by Peter Singer, and The Case for Animal Rights, by Thomas Regan, provide the philosophical basis for the modern animal rights movement" - Sherry, pp xi, xii.

Basic views of the movement and its leaders

Like most liberation movements (women's liberation, children's liberation, etc.), different leaders may hold somewhat divergent views. And determining fundamental beliefs may not always be obvious, since the movement publicly emphasizes views likely to arouse sympathy and acceptance, focusing on extreme abuses. Since PETA has become the most visible Animal Rights organization, we will focus primarily on its views.

The basic belief of Animal Rights activists is "that all human use of animals should stop immediately" - Sherry, p xi.

"PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment" - PETA web site.

Other PETA sites specify that they oppose wearing anything from animals, including fur or leather. They oppose all experimentation on animals for medical or any other purposes. They oppose all eating of animal products including, not just meat, fish, and chicken, but also eggs, milk, and dairy products. They advocate complete vegetarianism. They oppose all use of animals in entertainment, including zoos, circuses, rodeos, and movies. (See list of web sites on the PETA site.) But there is much more.

Ingrid Newkirk, a founder of PETA, said: "Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals" - via Sherry, p xiii.

Alex Pacheco, also a PETA founder, said: "We feel that animals have the same rights as a retarded human child" - via Sherry, p. xiii.

Extremists in the movement go still further. ALF member Tim Daley says the Animal Rights struggle is like a war, so "you have to take up arms and people will get killed" - Sherry, p xiv.

Many people think PETA is an animal welfare agency, like a humane shelter, seeking simply to protect animals from cruelty or mistreatment. But Animal Rights advocates reject such views, referring to them as merely "animal welfare." "Animal welfare" would sacrifice animal interests to achieve justifiable "human benefits." But Animal Liberation views animals as having rights that cannot be sacrificed regardless of the benefit to humans - FAQ from PETA web site.

Note: In his book Singer acknowledges that animals do not have completely equal rights with people because of the differences in their nature - p2. He even admits that the term "rights" is just "a convenient political shorthand" - p 8. Nevertheless, he repeatedly argues that animals should be treated by the same standard that we would treat a mentally deficient human baby.

An issue of morality and ethics - right and wrong

As a matter of personal opinion or preference, many of us might agree with some Animal Rights views. We may oppose some extreme forms of animal abuse. We may prefer a vegetarian diet for health or other reasons. We may promote animal welfare, as secondary to human welfare. But none of that is the issue here.

The essential point is that Animal Rights groups say all their concerns are issues of morality and ethics - right or wrong. Note some quotations from PETA web sites (emphasis added):

PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. ("Ethical" by definition refers to "principles of morality; pertaining to right or wrong conduct.")

"From a moral standpoint, actions that harm others are not matters of personal choice. Murder, child abuse, and cruelty to animals are all immoral."

"The point is not whether animal experimentation can be useful to animals or humans; the point is that we do not have the moral right to inflict unnecessary suffering on those who are at our mercy."

"Most of us would agree that harming a dog or cat is unethical -- unChristian even ... harming any living being, including cows, chickens, pigs, and fishes, is equally immoral."

"Humans are playing God with animals, and ethical people should have no part in it."

"... eating animals, war, slavery, polygamy, animal sacrifice, and other practices that most people find immoral..."

"...actions that are inherently unchristian..."

So real animal liberators see opposing viewpoints, not as personal choice, but as unethical, immoral, playing God, unChristian, and morally wrong. They liken such views to murder, child abuse, war, and polygamy. That is the position we examine here.

The standard of authority

The real leaders of the Animal Rights movement acknowledge that their views are not based on the Bible.

Some adherents claim Bible authority for their views, but the philosophical leaders make no such claim.

Singer and Regan, who wrote the main books defending Animal Rights, both "base their positions on modern secular reasons and eschew arguments based on religious suppositions" - Sherry, p4.

Singer wrote, "I don't believe in bibles: no book has a monopoly on truth" - p viii.

So Animal Liberation is fundamentally based on human wisdom, not on religion or the Bible.

In contrast, Bible believers reject human wisdom and recognize the Bible as the only standard of right and wrong.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 - The Scriptures inspired by God instruct in righteousness and provide to all good works.

Jeremiah 10:23 - The way of man is not in himself.

Proverbs 14:12 - Ways that seem right to man end up in death.

Galatians 1:8,9 - Any doctrine different from the gospel is accursed.

2 John 9-11 - If we don't abide in Christ's doctrine, we have not God.

Unlike human wisdom, the Bible offers supernatural evidence that it is the inspired word of God in the form of fulfilled prophecy, eyewitness testimony of miracles, and the resurrection. Examining that evidence is beyond the scope of this study. To learn more about the evidence for the Divine inspiration of the Bible we urge you to study our free articles on that subject on our Bible study web site at

So Animal Liberation is based on human wisdom, not on the Bible; but the Bible says we should follow it, not human wisdom. So, we should not be surprised to find conflicts between the Bible and the views of Animal Liberation.

[Colossians 3:17; 1 Cor. 1:18-25; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13 Matthew 15:9,13; Prov. 3:5,6]

Part 1. The Distinction between Men and Animals

Confusion between men and animals basically results from the hypothesis of evolution. If men evolved from animals and are fundamentally similar in nature, then we should expect to treat animals much like people. Note some quotations:

"Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals" - Ingrid Newkirk, a founder of PETA, via Sherry, p xiii.

Alex Pacheco, also a PETA founder, said: "We feel that animals have the same rights as a retarded human child" - via Sherry, p. xiii.

Singer's book opposes any conclusion that, simply because they are humans, people should be treated better than animals. He calls this the moral error of "speciesism" (like racism and sexism).

"Helping animals is not any more or less important than helping human beings..." - PETA FAQ.

"Would you allow an experiment that would sacrifice 10 animals to save 10,000 people?" Suppose the only way to save those 10,000 people was to experiment on one mentally-challenged orphan... there is no logical reason to deny animals the same rights that protect individual humans from being sacrificed for the common good - PETA FAQ.

Note how they "answer" nearly every opposing argument by assuming animals should be treated like humans. This kind of reasoning is used repeatedly by PETA, Singer, and others. They refuse to recognize humans as fundamentally different from animals.

Consider now the teaching of the Bible.

I. Humans Have a Stewardship over Animals.

If men did not evolve from animals, but were created by God to be fundamentally different from animals, then we should expect the rules for treating people to differ from those for treating animals.

A. Men and Animals Were Created by God, Belong to God, and Are Subject to His Rule.

Men and animals share some things in common. One is that we were created by God.


Genesis 1:20,21,24-27 - God created the fish, birds, land animals, creeping things, and people.

Psalms 50:10,11 - The beasts, the cattle, and the birds all belong to God, as do the people.

Jeremiah 27:5 - God said He made the earth and the men and beasts upon it.

1 Corinthians 10:25,26 - The earth and all that fills the earth belongs to God. It follows that God makes the rules about what dwells on the earth, including how we treat animals.


If we were created by God and belong to God, then God alone has the right to assign the purposes for our existence and the rules by which we should live. People should serve the purposes God gave them, animals should serve the purposes God gave them, and plants should serve the purposes God gave them.

And only God has the right to decree how people should treat animals. Whether we treat animals like we do people or differently from how we treat people is entirely up to God to decree. It is not a matter of human choice or wisdom. This shows why the subject of creation is so important to studies like this. (See once again the passages in the introduction about our standard of authority.)

B. God Cares and Provides for the Animals and the People.


Psalms 36:6 - God preserves man and beast.

Psalms 104:14 - He causes food to grow for men and cattle.

Matthew 6:26-30 - God feeds birds and clothes plants. Likewise, He will clothe and feed people.

Matthew 10:29 - God knows if even a sparrow falls to the ground.


So God cares and provides for both man and animals. Why? Because they belong to Him! He cares for them for the same reasons that a man cares for and protects things that he made and that belong to him. The owner has control of that which he made and owns.

Does God's care and provision for animals prove they have rights like men do? He also cares and provides for the plants (see Matt. 6). Do plants have rights? Instead of comparing animals to men, why not compare them to plants, since God also cares for plants?

Neither men nor animals nor plants have rights except as given them by God, who created and owns them. We will see that the Bible clearly teaches that God has given men certain rights. Where does the Bible say He has given rights to animals like those He has given to people? Where does the Bible say people should treat animals like they treat people, even mentally deficient people?

[Genesis 1:30; Psalms 147:9]

C. God Commands People to Properly Care for Animals.


Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15 - Having created all things, God put man in charge over the animals and the earth. Specifically, man was to take care of the plants in the garden. [Psalms 8:4-8]

Deuteronomy 25:4 - An ox that treads grain should be allowed to eat. The New Testament explains that this was his pay for his work (1 Tim. 5:17,18). [Isaiah 30:24]

Deuteronomy 5:14 - Working animals should rest on the Sabbath as surely as the people do.

Proverbs 12:10 - A righteous man regards the life of his beast.

Luke 14:5 - When an animal is endangered, its owner should help and protect it.

Psalms 23:1-4; (John 10:1-15; Luke 15:3-7) - Probably the best example of men caring for animals would be shepherds. They knew each sheep individually, led them to food and water, protected them from enemies, and sought them if they went astray. [Psalms 78:52; Isaiah 40:11; Ezek. 34:11,12]


Does the fact we are responsible to care for animals prove they have rights similar to ours? Again, we are responsible to care for plants and for the whole earth, as well as for the animals. Do plants have rights? Do the air and the soil have rights? If our responsibility to care for animals means that they have rights similar to those of people, why doesn't our responsibility to care for plants and the earth mean that they too have rights?

We should care for animals and plants, not because they have rights but because we have responsibilities before God. It is a stewardship. Both they and we belong to God, and He commands us to take care of them.

We should care for animals, not because of the nature of the animals as compared to human nature, but because of the will of God who created and rules over all. If the animals belong to God and we are stewards over them, then we are responsible to use and care for them however God says we should. The rules are determined by God's will, not by human will or wisdom.

Question: Why doesn't God give animals instructions about how to care and provide for people? If animals have rights similar to ours, then shouldn't they also have responsibilities similar to ours? Don't rights go hand-in-hand with responsibilities? Everyone agrees that people have rights and that people have at least some responsibilities in general and specifically toward animals. If animals have rights similar to those of people, why don't they also have responsibilities similar to those of people? Questions like these demonstrate that confusion about the nature of animals leads to confusion about how animals should be treated.

II. Humans Are Distinct from and Superior to Animals.

A. Men Are Created in the Image of God; Animals Are Not.


Genesis 1:26-28

After He created all the animals (vv 21-25), God then created man. Man was made in God's image and likeness. This is never said of the animals. This teaching is based entirely on the concept of God as Creator and Ruler. It completely contradicts all evolutionary thinking, including Animal Liberation. [5:1; James 3:9]

This is the most basic issue in this study! If people were created fundamentally different from animals - if we partake of the character of God in ways that animals do not - then it is perfectly reasonable that the rights of people and our treatment of people should differ from animals. And it follows all the Animal Liberation arguments paralleling treatment of animals to treatment of men are false!

Genesis 9:2-6

God distinguishes between killing a man and killing an animal. Killing a man is basically wrong and should be punished, but this is not true of killing an animal. And the reason for this is that men are in the image of God. Killing or harming a man is fundamentally different in nature from killing or harming an animal, because the nature of man is fundamentally different from the nature of animals.


This demonstrates the error in comparing man's treatment of animals to treatment of people of other races or genders, including mentally deficient babies. People of other races or the opposite sex are still people in the image of God. They deserve full treatment as humans. But that is not true of animals. Here is where all Animal Rights parallels and arguments break down.

The only response to this evidence by Animal Rights advocates that I am aware of is to ridicule it or deny the inspiration of Scripture. They repeatedly argue that animals should be treated similarly to people because of the similarities between people and animals. And they attempt to respond to the apparent differences between people and animals - except for those based on the Bible teaching that people were created in the image of God, and all the consequences that follow from that.

The basic error of Animal Rights is that it fails to recognize that man is fundamentally different in nature from animals because men are in the image of God, but animals are not! All other arguments we will make relate back to this one. But as we examine other evidence, we will repeatedly reinforce the strength of this truth.

B. Men Have Intelligence Incomparably Beyond That of Animals.


Job 35:10,11 - We know more than the beasts and are wiser than the birds, because God so created us.

Psalms 32:9 - Horses and mules have no understanding. So foolish are they that, in order to be useful, they must be controlled by bit and bridle.

Psalms 73:22 - The Bible uses the conduct of brute beasts to illustrate foolishness and ignorance.

Hosea 7:11 - To express the ultimate of senseless ignorance, God compares Ephraim to a silly dove.


God uses animals as examples of foolishness. This is not to say animals have no intelligence at all. They sometimes amaze us with their understanding. But when men use the good sense God gave them, animals cannot compare.

Animal Rights advocates try to set aside this evidence by arguing that some animals may be more intelligent than a mentally deficient human baby. But mental handicaps are the result of some malfunction or disease; they are not inherent in the nature of people. But it is inherent in the nature of all people, regardless of mental ability, to possess by Divine creation a human nature that is in the image of God. And that is why humans, except in cases of disease or malformity, possess a kind of intelligence that animals can simply never achieve.

We will see that God created us with intelligence fundamentally different from that of animals yet in many ways similar to His own intelligence (though in a lesser degree), because He has a higher purpose for us than He does for the animals. And this purpose requires that we be able to reason and communicate on a level far above the animals.

[Daniel 4:16; 5:21; Proverbs 26:11; 2 Peter 2:22; Num. 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; Matt. 9:36]

C. Men Are Accountable to God to Make Moral Choices about Right and Wrong.

Men are morally accountable and will be judged by God for their lives.

Genesis 2:16,17 [1 Corinthians 15:21] - God gave instructions to man (not animals) about eating of the trees in the garden. Man's disobedience brought death into the world. What animal was given such a choice or could understand such a choice or could bring such a consequence on itself or on the world by making a wrong choice? [3:1-7]

Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 - The whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commands, for God will judge every work, good or bad. Man is capable of understanding and obeying God's commands. This is the purpose of our existence, and we will be judged accordingly.

Acts 17:30,31 - God commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day to judge them. Repentance is a choice. Man can be commanded to make that choice and will be judged for it.

Hebrews 9:27 - It is appointed to man once to die and after this the judgment. Where does the Bible say animals will be judged for their lives?

[Matthew 12:36; 25:31-46; 2 Cor. 5:10; Joshua 24:15; Hebrews 11:25; 1 Kings 18:21; Psalm 119:30]

Animals are not morally accountable. Men who degrade themselves to practice evil are compared to animals.

Matthew 7:6 - Dogs and pigs are used as examples of those who have no sense of spiritual values. [Phil. 3:2; 2 Kings 8:12,13]

Proverbs 26:3 - When men act foolishly like animals act, they deserve to be punished.

Matthew 23:33; 12:34 - Men who speak and practice evil are compared to a brood of snakes. [Matthew 3:7]

Acts 20:29,30 - False teachers are compared to wolves that destroy a flock of sheep. [Matt. 7:15; 10:16; 1 Peter 5:8]

Titus 1:12,13 - Men who are lazy liars are compared to evil beasts. Beasts often do things that would be evil if men did them; but the animals will not be judged for their conduct, because they are not morally accountable.

[Jude 10; 2 Peter 2:12]


Incredibly, people today sometimes use the conduct of animals to justify human conduct, as though animals are the standard of right and wrong! (One actress justified Bill Clinton's womanizing by saying that's how gorillas act!) It used to be that comparing people to "brute beasts" was an insult to describe disgusting, uncivilized conduct, and that's how the Bible still views it. In our perverted society, people use the conduct of beasts to defend their evils!

Men by nature are in the image of God and therefore above animals. But when men corrupt themselves, they act like animals. Animals cannot help themselves; they are not morally accountable. But men are accountable; so when they act like animals, they deserve to be punished. And clearly animal conduct does not constitute a standard of good conduct for humans!

Here is the proof that rights and responsibilities go together. God grants people rights because He made us capable of exercising moral judgment and accepting moral responsibilities. Specifically, we have the right or freedom to choose to do good or do evil, but we will be held accountable for the choice. Animals do not have these responsibilities, therefore they do not have the rights and will not be judged for their choices. Until animals are able to accept human responsibilities, it is foolish to speak of them as having human rights!

And why is all this true? Because people are in the image of God, having the moral ability to distinguish right from wrong. Animals have no such ability because they are not in the image of God.

[Psalms 22:16; Revelation 22:15; Other passages speak of some animals (doves, sheep, etc.) as harmless. But they have no choice; people do have a choice. Some may argue that mentally deficient babies are not accountable or able to make moral choices. But again that is a perversion of nature. The inherent nature of men is to be in the image of God so that they become accountable as they develop the ability to distinguish right from wrong. So people are fundamentally different from animals.]

D. God Requires Men, Not Animals, to Be Taught His Laws.

Because man is in God's image, being morally accountable and capable of understanding written commands, God requires that all people be taught His laws. He has written them in the Bible for men to study. This is not true of animals.


Nehemiah 8:1-3 (cf. vv 4-8) - Ezra and others read the law of God and explained it so people could understand. They taught all who could hear with understanding (vv 2,3). But this included only people, men and women - vv 1,2,3,7.

Luke 20:1; John 8:2 - Jesus taught people.

Acts 11:26 - The church assembled and taught a great many people, not animals.

Colossians 1:28 - Paul's goal was to preach about Christ, warning every man and teaching every man to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 - The Scriptures are profitable for teaching and instruction to equip the man of God to every good work.


Animals may accomplish God's will for them by means of natural law or inborn instincts. But in that sense plants, rocks, and lakes also accomplish God's will, but should they have rights? Man is the only creature to whom God has written a book of instructions. Why? Because only people are in the image of God. Only people have the intelligence to understand the law of God, and only people are morally accountable to obey it.

This disproves all the arguments that are used by Animal Liberation to claim that animals should be treated similarly to people because they are similar in nature to people. The Bible shows in numerous passages that people are by nature fundamentally different from animals, so of course the rules for our treatment of them are different from the rules for treating animals.

[Psalms 94:12; 2 Chron. 17:9; Ezek. 44:23; Isaiah 2:3; 1 Kings 8:36; Deut. 4:10; Acts 4:2; 5:25; 18:25; 1 Timothy 2:4]

E. Men Have Eternal Spirits and Eternal Destinies; Animals Do Not.


Ecclesiastes 3:21 - The spirit of man goes upward, but the spirit of a beast goes down to the earth. Animals have a spirit in the sense of animal life, but it does not continue past death.

Isaiah 31:3 - Just as men are not God, so horses are flesh and not spirit.

Zechariah 12:1 - God forms the spirit of man within him. [1 Cor. 2:11; Heb. 12:23]

Romans 2:6-10 - Speaking to men (vv 1,3), God promises to render to each according to His deeds, good or evil. Punishment is for "every soul of man" who does evil, Jew or Greek. Eternal life is for those who do good. The judgment of men will lead to eternal destinies.

2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1 - We have an inner man that can receive eternal glory, even though the outer man decays. Can this be said of animals?

[Job 32:8; Hebrews 4:9]


We already learned that only people will be judged for their lives, but that judgment is where eternal destinies will be decreed (see also Matt. 25:31-45). Animals will not be judged, so they have no eternal rewards or punishments. This is true because people have an eternal spirit that will continue on after death. Animals do not.

All this follows from the fact man is in the image of God. Like God we have the power to make moral choices, and we are responsible for those choices. We have spirits that will exist forever, and our destiny will be determined by our choices. None of this is true of animals.

And please note that this difference is true of all humans, regardless of race, gender, age, or mental ability. All have a spirit created in the image of God, so all are fundamentally different from animals. That is why people have rights but animals do not have rights, so people should be treated differently from animals. Until Animal Liberation deals with these fundamental differences, they will forever misunderstand the true nature of people and of animals.

F. Men Have Much Greater Value to God Than Do Animals.

Because God created men in His image, we are more important and valuable to Him than any animals. This is not a human invention or choice; it is the decree of the Creator.


Matthew 6:26 - God feeds the birds, but of people He says, "Are you not of more value than they?"

Matthew 10:29-31 - God cares for sparrows, even though they are of relatively little value. Yet one human is of greater value than many sparrows.

Matthew 15:26 - Jesus said it is not good to throw the children's bread to the dogs. Why not? If animals have similar rights to people, why do they not have a similar right to be fed? Jesus said that animals are not as valuable as people, and this should be reflected in how we distribute food.

Matthew 12:11,12 - Jesus said that, if a sheep falls into a pit, his owner would lift him out. "Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?" We should care for the animals that belong to us. But both God and man should treat people much better than they do animals.


We have seen that Animal Rights activists often claim that various ways of treating animals are wrong, because it would be wrong to treat people that way. In contrast, God says that man is of much greater value than animals and for this reason man deserves much better treatment than animals.

When people equate animals to men, they may think they are increasing the importance of animals, but instead they are degrading the value of man. Animals can be incredibly cruel, violent, and vicious - just watch the nature shows on TV! If men become convinced they are no better than animals, they will soon treat one another like animals! When we learn our real nature, created in the image of God and accountable to serve Him, then we begin to understand our real value before God and our responsibility to treat others properly.

[1 Samuel 24:14; Job 30:1,29; Psalms 22:16]

G. Men Have Dominion Over Animals from Creation.


Genesis 1:26-28 - Because man is in God's image, man has dominion over all animals and over all the earth. This includes the right to subdue the earth - to control it for man's purposes.

Genesis 9:2-6 - Because man is in God's image, no one has the right to murder man. But man does have the right to kill animals for food. "They are given into your hand" (v2). Note again that the fact man is in God's image and animals are not is the basis of the fact that people must be treated differently from animals, including even regarding causing pain and death. [Lev. 24:18,21]

Psalms 8:4-7 - Man is crowned with glory and honor, placed just a little below the angels. He has dominion over all animals. All things are under man's feet. Man has the right to control the animals. Why? Because of the position to which God placed man from creation.

Psalms 32:9 - Man's dominion over animals includes the right to harness them by bit and bridle. Man has the right to use and control animals for the benefit of man.

James 3:3,7 - Again, we put bits in horse's mouth so that they obey us. We tame every kind of beast. Man is in control. Animals should obey us. Why? Because man is in the likeness of God - v9.

All this is true by virtue of creation and the position God gave man over animals from the beginning, because man was created in God's image.


Note that God says man has dominion over animals. Does the Bible say that animals have dominion over men? If not, then how can anyone truthfully claim that animals have rights like men or should be treated by the same rules men should be treated? Here is one right that animals definitely do not have: we have the right to control them, but they do not have the right to control us! From this difference grows all the other differences in how people ought to treat other people as compared to animals.

None of this justifies harming animals simply from cruel or vicious whims. We earlier learned that animals belong to God, so we must use them as He says. But God says that He has given us dominion over animals, so we can use them to meet our needs. This includes the right to control them, make them obey us, tame them, and eat them for food.

To compare man's use of animals to slavery of humans is to pervert God's order. Other men are our equals, but animals are below us in authority, value, intelligence, spiritual nature, and moral responsibility. Above all, we are in God's image and they are not, and therefore we are placed in control of them to use them for our benefit, just as we use the plants and all the earth.

It follows that, to seek to "liberate" animals from men, is to rebel against God. God Himself placed the animals under our dominion. The Animal Liberation movement stands in open defiance of God's order in creation!

[Prov. 26:3; Luke 10:19; 1 Sam. 16:11; Gen. 4:2]

H. Jesus Died to Save Men, Not Animals.

This is the ultimate proof that animals are not equal in nature or in worth to men.


Isaiah 53:5,8 - Jesus bore our punishment. He was stricken "for the transgressions of my people."

Romans 5:12,18,19 - Through the sin of one man (Adam), sin and condemnation came on all men. So through the righteous act of one Man (Jesus), the free gift of justification came to all men.

1 Timothy 2:4-6 - God wants all men to be saved. Jesus is our ransom, who came as a man (not an animal), so He could serve as mediator between God and man (not between God and animals).

Titus 2:11,12 - The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men - not animals.

Hebrews 2:14-17 - In order to release us from the power of sin and Satan, Jesus had to be made like us in all things - He had to come to earth in our form. He was made like us, so that he could make propitiation for the sins of the people - v17.

Note that He did not come to aid angels (v16), so He did not take on the form of an angel. It follows that the reason He did not take the form of an animal is that He did not come to save animals! He took on the form of a person because He came to save people.

[Romans 5:6-9; Titus 3:3-7; 1 Cor. 1:23,24; Rom. 6:5-7; Gal. 1:28; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 2:14-17; Revelation 5:9]


John 1:12 - Those who believe in Jesus have the right to become children of God. Do animals have the right to be saved by the blood of Jesus and become children of God? Should animals be taught the gospel of Christ, so they can believe it, repent of sins, confess Christ, and be baptized for remission of sins? If animals do not have the right to obey the gospel and be saved by Jesus' blood, then no one can truthfully argue that animals have rights similar to those of people! And note again that God Himself here treats people differently from animals because we have a different nature from animals.

Here again we see fundamental proof that animals do not have rights similar to those of people and should not be treated by the same rules as people. And this proof is based on the fundamental differences that God established between men and animals. Each person has an eternal spirit, because we are made in God's image. We have intelligence to understand God's will and be accountable to live according to His standard of right and wrong. As a result, we are so important God sent His only Son to die to offer us forgiveness of our sins so we can receive eternal life at the judgment. All of this distinguishes us from animals.

Conclusion to Part I

Only God inherently has rights.

As Creator and Ruler of the Universe, He is in charge. People have rights, not because we earned them or inherently deserve them, but because God the Creator chose to give them to us! We would have no rights, except for His decree. Indeed, "we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights." Where does the Bible say God gave rights to animals?

Because God is the Creator, He alone has the power to determine how we should treat other aspects of His creation. And no man has the right to contradict His decrees.

God gave us power to use everything on earth for our benefit according to His will.

Air, sunshine, water, soil, plants, and animals all have great value to man, because they are useful to meet our needs.

In accord with God's command, men protect many animals, raise, feed, and provide for them, because they are valuable to us for food, clothing, etc. If man has no right to own or use animals, then animals would be of less value to us than plants that we can raise and eat, and less value than a plot of dirt on which we can build a house or grow food.

The result of the Animal Rights movement would be to make all animals into pests like rats, flies, mosquitoes, roaches, and other vermin. The land would be overrun by animals which would accept no responsibilities and serve no useful purpose. They would multiply without limit, compete with us for food, invade our property, and endanger our livelihood, but would have no value to us whatever. We could not use them in any way for our good, and we could not even kill them, unless they threatened our lives. The result would make every animal worthless to us at best and an enemy at worst. This does not increase the value of animals; it degrades them and perverts God's purpose for them.

[Isaiah 66:3]

Part 2: Human Use of Animals

A basic teaching of Animal Rights is that men have no more right to own, use, confine, harm, or kill animals for their own purposes than they have to do such things to human beings. Note specific areas of concern.

I. May People Possess or Use Animals as Property?

Animal Rights says "all human use of animals should stop immediately" - Sherry, p xi.

Ingrid Newkirk, a PETA founder, said "...the act of confinement is traumatizing in itself."

They cite "Rev." Andrew Linzey who said, "Animals are God's creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities..." - JesusVeg FAQ. (But plants, lakes, and rocks are God's creatures too.)

Remember their basic premise: Animals should be treated as we would treat a mentally deficient human child. "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy."

So they conclude that humans must never own or possess animals as property. We must not confine them in cages, barns, or fences, nor may we ride them or compel them to pull plows or wagons, since we would not treat humans in these ways.

Animal activists rarely publicize their more extreme conclusions, yet consistency requires them to oppose even owning or confining an animal as a pet. They seek to pass laws that animals should be treated as "companions" or "friends," but you would never own or confine a friend.

Consider the teaching of the Bible.

The Dominion Mandate and Control and Possession of Animals

Genesis 1:26-28 - From creation man was given dominion over all animals. Remember, this based on God's decree that people are in God's image, where animals are not. So, contrary to Animal Rights, the rules for treating animals completely differ from those for treating people.

Genesis 9:1,2 - Animals are "given" into our hand by God Himself. This implies possession and the power of owners to control and use animals for our purposes (v3).

Psalms 8:4-7 - God explains man's dominion over animals: it means they are put under man's feet. This is a position of absolute submission, not just protection or voluntary service.

Divine Approval for Owning and Confining Animals

Old Testament examples

Exodus 21:28,29 - If an ox is known to gore, its owner must keep it confined. God expressly approves ownership and confinement of animals. [Vv 35,36]

Deuteronomy 22:1-4 - If your neighbor's animal is lost and you find it, you must return it like you would his garment. So animals are property that people possess like a garment or any other possession. God here expressly condoned owning animals and confining them so they are not at liberty to "go astray." Note that this specifically rebukes Animal Liberators who release other people's animals against the owner's will. Instead, they should be returned.

1 Samuel 12:3 - Samuel said that, if he had improperly taken anyone's ox or donkey, he would restore it. So property, including animals, may be owned, and godly people respect the rights of people who own animals. This is doing right, not wrong.

Job 1:3 - Job's flocks were part of his "possessions." Yet God repeatedly affirmed that Job was not evil but blameless and upright (vv 1,8). When Satan took Job's flocks away, God blessed Job by restoring more than he had before (42:12).

Isaiah 1:3 - The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib, but God's people did not know their owner (God). God here expressly approves of people owning animals and implies the right to confine them.

New Testament examples

Luke 10:34 - Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to show us how we ought to serve others. The Samaritan helped a needy man by putting him on his own animal. Note: The teaching of Jesus Himself shows that it is good to own animals and use them in the service of humans.

Luke 19:30,33-35 - Scripture says that a donkey had human "owners," and Jesus made use of the donkey.

John 10:1-4,14 - Jesus compared Himself to a shepherd who has his "own" sheep. Further, these sheep are kept in a sheepfold (confinement). So Jesus used owning and confining sheep to illustrate His own conduct. (This is contrasted to a hireling who cares for other people's sheep but does not own the sheep - vv 11-14.)

[Gen. 24:35; Deut. 7:13; 28:4; Deuteronomy 22:6,7]

Divine Approval for Using Animals to Work for Us

Old Testament examples

Deuteronomy 25:4 - Oxen were made to work by treading out grain. They would be rewarded for their work, but people had the right to expect them to work.

1 Kings 1:33,38,44 - David had a mule that was his "own" mule, and he had Solomon ride on it. So David possessed it and used it for riding.

1 Kings 19:19 - When Elijah called him to be a prophet, Elisha was using oxen to plow. So godly people used animals to plow.

Nehemiah 2:12 - The righteous man Nehemiah rode on an animal.

Job 1:14 - Job, whom God called blameless and upright, not only owned oxen but made them work at plowing (v14).

New Testament examples

Luke 10:34 - The Good Samaritan helped a needy man by having him ride on his animal. So the teaching of Jesus Himself shows that it is good to use animals to work and serve humans.

Animal Liberation often argues as though we should treat animals like we would treat people. But note how Jesus clearly distinguishes treatment of people from treatment of animals. He commands us to love people as we love ourselves, but He authorizes people to own and use animals in their own service. So the command to love your neighbor applies to people. No passage commands anyone to love an animal as himself. Jesus said the rules for treating people are different from the rules for treating animals.

Luke 19:30,33-35; Matthew 21:5 - Jesus rode on a donkey. Not only did Jesus approve of people owning animals, but He Himself used an animal to ride on.

James 3:3,7 - Men tame animals and put bits in their mouths to make them obey us. This is compared to how men control a ship (v4). The lesson teaches how we should tame and control our tongues. Jesus no more believed in Animal Liberation and Animal Rights than He believed in "tongue liberation" and "tongue rights." The lesson is that we should control and confine our tongues to do our will. Likewise, men have the right to tame and control animals.

So the Bible teaches that men have dominion over animals, including the right to control them, confine them, and require them to obey us. We have the right to possess them as property, use them, and make them work for us. They are required to serve our purposes to meet our needs. God did not "liberate" them as if they have the "right" to act as they please.

The views of Animal Rights and Animal Liberation directly contradict all these Scriptures.

[Gen. 32:5,13-15,18; 36:6; 42:26,27; 44:3; 47:15-17; Ex. 20:17; 22:30; 23:4,12; Num. 20:8,11; 35:3; 1 Sam. 9:3,20; 16:11; 2 Sam. 12:3; 1 Kings 10:25,28; 2 Kings 7:7; Ezra 2:66,67; Neh. 7:68,69; Prov. 12:10; Jer. 27:6; Rev. 18:2]

II. May People Kill and Eat Animals and Animal Products?

"PETA operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat..." - PETA site.

Singer repeats the argument that it is morally wrong to cause an animal to suffer, just as it would be wrong to cause similar suffering to a human. He then reasons that we should not eat any animal if killing it causes it to show signs of suffering (writhing, seeking to escape the source of pain, etc.). He concludes that we must not eat "any slaughtered bird or animal" including mammals, reptiles, fish, and seafood. (pp 171ff)

As animal libbers typically do, his gateway argument opposes extreme forms of "factory farming" of animals. Next he opposes "traditional farming" of animals (p161). Then he opposes fishing and hunting, even when animals have run free all their lives. The result argues for essentially complete vegetarianism. This approach is typical of animal libbers.

PETA even opposes keeping chickens for eggs and dairy cows for milk, because the animals are confined, even though this does not kill the animals. (PETA web site)

"No matter how one views God's original intent, the complete disdain afforded animals who are turned into food is absolutely heretical ... Humans are playing God with animals, and ethical people should have no part in it." Why? Because the animals' "natural desires [are] totally thwarted, and their every need and desire entirely ignored..." (PETA web site). So regardless of God's intention, we must respect the desires and needs of animals like we would those of humans, otherwise, we are "playing God" and that is "heretical."

"...we've all accidentally stepped on ants or breathed in gnats, but that doesn't mean we should intentionally cause unnecessary harm" - PETA web site.

Singer said: "I wouldn't kill a spider if I can avoid killing a spider" - CultureFacts, 7/19/02.

A. Bible Examples of People Who Ate Meat

The Bible is filled with examples of faithful servants of God who ate meat.

Genesis 25:27,28; 27:1-4 - Isaac loved Esau because Esau was a skillful hunter, and Isaac ate what Esau killed.

Genesis 43:16 - Joseph had an animal slaughtered for his brothers to eat with him.

1 Samuel 25:18 - Abigail brought sheep dressed to eat as a gift to David and his men.

1 Kings 4:22,23 - The wise man Solomon ate oxen, sheep, deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fowl.

1 Kings 19:21 - Elisha slaughtered oxen to feed people.

1 Chronicles 12:39,40 - David and the people ate oxen and sheep when he was named king.

Nehemiah 5:17,18 - Nehemiah provided oxen, sheep, and fowl for those who ate with him.

Matthew 3:4 - John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey.

Note that most of these ate, not just fish or birds, but "red meat": cattle, sheep, oxen, etc.

If eating meat is immoral, then all these people were immoral. Yet the Bible presents them as good people and never once implies they did anything wrong in these cases.

[1 Sam. 16:20; 17:18; Gen. 10:9; Prov. 9:2; 2 Sam. 17:29]

B. Passages Where God Specifically Approves of Eating Meat

Consider passages where God either approves of eating meat and animal products or even provides it for people to eat.

Genesis 9:1-6

After the flood God gave animals into man's hand (v2) and said that "every moving thing" is food for us, just like plants are (v3). We must not kill people, who are in God's image, but we may kill and eat animals since they are not in God's image. This passage expressly states, both that God permits man to eat animal meat, and that God's rules against killing people do not apply to animals.

Some say that God simply tolerated people's desire to eat meat, without really approving it, like He tolerated divorce. But we know God merely tolerated divorce because the Bible clearly says so (Matt. 19:3-9). Where does God clearly say this regarding eating meat? Further, Jesus clearly stated that the New Testament would return to God's original teaching regarding divorce. Where does He say that He does not want us to eat meat? In fact, He says just the opposite.

Other Old Testament passages

Genesis 18:2,7,8 - Abraham showed hospitality by feeding visitors butter, milk, and a calf. Note that they ate, not just dairy products, but also red meat (veal). These visitors were actually angels, one of whom is called "the Lord" (vv 16-19). He praised Abraham as a righteous and just man. If eating meat is immoral, would a righteous and just man provide it for people to eat, and would the Lord eat it? Hebrews 13:2 commands us to show similar hospitality.

Exodus 12:3,6,8,46 - God commanded each family in Israel to kill and eat a lamb for the Passover feast.

Deuteronomy 12:15,20-22 - When Israelites offered sacrifices, they and the priests ate much of the meat. This was God's blessing to them. This practice involved wholesale slaughter and eating of oxen, sheep, and goats. [15:19-23; 14:26; Num. 18:9,10; Ex. 29:32; Lev. 7:15; 8:31]

Leviticus 11:2,3,9,21,46,47 - God forbade eating unclean animals, yet He expressly authorized the eating of many mammals, fish, birds, and insects. [Deut. 14:4,6,9,11,20]

Leviticus 17:13,14 - Animal blood must be poured out before the animal was eaten. But with this provision, animals and birds may be hunted, caught, and eaten.

1 Kings 17:4,6 - God nourished Elijah by providing him bread and meat. Did God provide food that would be immoral to eat?

Proverbs 27:23-27; Exodus 3:8,17; 13:5; 33:3; Leviticus 20:24; Deuteronomy 27:3; Jeremiah 32:22 - God blessed Israel by giving them milk. PETA says it is immoral to drink what God gave people as a blessing! Does God bless people by promoting evil? [Deut. 32:14]

[Exodus 16:8,12; Numbers 11:4,13,18-22,31-33; Psalms 78:26-31]

New Testament passages

Acts 10:9-16; 11:5-10 - In a vision God commanded Peter to eat unclean animals. When Peter refused, God explained that he should not treat as unclean things that God had cleansed. This was a symbol that Gentiles could receive the gospel; but would God have commanded Peter to eat, if he would have sinned by doing so? This shows that even animals that were unclean under the Old Testament may now be eaten.

1 Timothy 4:1-5 - When people forbid the eating of "meats" (KJV, ASV; "foods" - NKJV), they depart from the faith and follow doctrines of demons. Some say this refers, not to meat, but to forbidding "foods" in general. But no one forbids eating all foods, so the verse must refer to certain kinds of foods. That this includes eating meat is confirmed by v4: Every creature of God is good and not to be refused if we are thankful for it. So the doctrine that forbids eating God's creatures is a false doctrine taught by those who have departed from the faith!

1 Corinthians 8:8,10,13; 10:25; (Romans 14:1,2,15,21) - As a matter of personal conscience, some Christians would not eat meats that had been offered to idols. But eating other meat was clearly acceptable. If we eat we are no worse, and if we do not we are no better (v8). But meat bought in a meat market, should just be eaten with no questions asked - 10:25. So eating meat is not inherently wrong. We should not urge people to violate their consciences, but remember that to condemn those who do eat meat would constitute false doctrine (cf. Rom. 14:3).

Colossians 2:16 - Since the Old Law has been removed (v14), no one should judge us regarding old laws of food and drink, such as clean and unclean animals. Clean animals could always be eaten, and under the gospel we may eat even those that were formerly unclean. Those who would judge us for so doing are wrong.

[2 Peter 2:12; 1 Cor. 3:2; 9:7; Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:2]

C. The Example of Jesus

Some people actually claim that Jesus was a vegetarian. But consider:

Passages describing Jesus' teaching and conduct

Luke 5:4-10 - Jesus called apostles by enabling them to make a huge catch of fish (vv 4-9). If catching fish is immoral, why did Jesus instruct and enable them to do it?

Luke 11:11-13 - Jesus said a father gives good gifts to his children, including bread, fish, and eggs. Obviously the parent would expect the children to eat all these. So, Jesus here expressly teaches that it is good, not evil, to eat both fish and eggs, and to provide these for others to eat.

Mark 6:35-44; 8:1-9 - Jesus fed bread and fish to the 5000 and later to the 4000 (note 6:41; 8:7). Eating fish is just as acceptable as eating bread. [John 6:9,11]

Mark 7:18,19 - Jesus taught that a man is not defiled (i.e., does not sin - vv 20-23) because of the foods he eats. This removed the Old Testament prohibitions against eating unclean animals. So where the Old Testament justified much eating of meat, the New Testament allows even more than did the Old Testament!

Luke 15:23,27 - When the prodigal son returned, the father had the servants rejoice by killing and eating the fatted calf (beef - veal). This illustrates God's joy when people repent of sin.

Mark 14:12,18 - Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples. We earlier learned that the Passover involved killing and eating a lamb. So, Jesus ate meat. Was Jesus immoral?

Luke 24:36-43 - Jesus ate fish to show His disciples that He had been raised from the dead.

John 21:3,6,8-13 - After His resurrection. He repeated the miracle of providing the apostles with fish to catch. This time He also cooked fish and gave fish to them to eat.

In many of these cases Jesus ate fish or provided fish for others to eat. But in some of them He ate or approved of eating "red meat": calves, and lamb.

[Matthew 22:4]


Some argue that Jesus did not eat meat at the Passover.

They say He cast out the people who sold animals. But remember that people ate the Passover in their houses (Ex. 12:6,7). What Jesus opposed was people selling animals in the temple.

The Bible plainly commanded the Jews to kill and eat all the lamb, so none remained till morning (see the Scriptures cited above). To refuse to eat would have been simple disobedience.

Mark's account (14:12ff) expressly says that they "killed" the Passover lamb. Jesus' disciples prepared for the meal and Jesus ate it with them (vv 12,14,18). God commanded eating the Passover lamb, and Jesus obeyed. Therefore, eating meat cannot possibly be inherently immoral.

Some argue that the miracles involving meat were symbols to prove Jesus' power, to spread the gospel, etc.

But the fact remains that Jesus still did the physical acts. To deny this is to deny Scripture. He provided fish for fishermen, provided fish for other people, and He Himself ate fish. So Jesus practiced things PETA says are immoral. (Eph. 5:11; 2 John 9-11).

Furthermore, several examples we used did not involve miracles: Luke 11:11-13; Mark 7:18,19; Matthew 22:4; Luke 15:23,27; Mark 14:12,18.

And when all else fails, simply deny that we should follow Jesus!

"However, whether Jesus was or wasn't a vegetarian, Christians today should be" - JesusVeg FAQ. We will see later that Animal Lib leaders will deny Scripture rather than admit their view of animals is false.

This is a common tactic of unbelievers. Moslems do it. Mormons do it. Modernists do it. If they think they can convince us that Jesus and the Bible defend their view, they argue that we should follow Jesus and the Bible. But when we prove that the teaching of Jesus and the Bible contradict their view, then they just reject Jesus and the Bible!

Regardless of their claims, Animal Liberators do not believe what Jesus believed, do not teach what Jesus taught, do not practice what Jesus practiced, and do not really follow Jesus!

Jesus ate meat, and Jesus provided meat for others to eat. All this would be wrong if eating meat is immoral. But Jesus never sinned - Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21. So, none of these things were wrong for Him to do. And since Jesus' followers should imitate His example, none of these things are wrong for us to do - Luke 6:40; 1 Peter 2:21,22; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Matthew 16:24; 1 John 2:6; John 13:15.


We agree that people should not destroy animals wastefully, but should use what they kill to meet legitimate needs (food, clothing, etc.). Furthermore, nothing here requires people to eat animals. Some have health or other personal reasons not to eat meat. That is a personal choice.

But none of this proves that it is inherently immoral to kill animals for food. On the contrary, killing animals for food is clearly authorized by God. It is a legitimate part of our stewardship as we use the animals for our good - the very purpose for which the animals were created. Any other view perverts God's plan both for the animals and for the people.

A secondary point: We have just listed well over 2 dozen Scriptures (and could give more) in which God's word justifies, promotes, or even at times required eating meat and/or animal products (more than half of them referring to eating mammals). No doubt various foods affect different people in different ways due to allergies and other personal health issues. But some vegetarians claim that eating meat is generally unhealthy for people in general. Did Jesus and God repeatedly encourage people to do unhealthy things? Does He not know best what is or is not healthy? How do you explain all these passages that justify eating meat as a blessing from God, if in fact it is generally bad for health?

III. May People Wear Clothing Made from Animal Products?

PETA's basic principle is that "animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment" - PETA web site.

Remember, they say we should treat an animal by the same rules we would treat a mentally deficient baby. "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy." It follows that we do not have the right to use any part of an animal for clothing. You surely would not kill a child to use any part of it for clothing. Nor would you farm or herd children like people do animals to get wool or fur.

So, PETA opposes all trapping, hunting, or farming of animals to use them for fur (such as fur coats) or leather (for shoes, etc.). And to be consistent they must oppose shepherding and shearing sheep for wool, just as they oppose herding cows for milk.

But consider the Bible teaching. Note the evidence that man's "dominion" over animals (Genesis 1:26-28) includes using them for clothing.

Old Testament Teaching

Genesis 3:21 - After Adam and Eve sinned, they needed clothing (vv 7-11), so God made them tunics of animal skins. If it is unethical or immoral to use animals for clothing, why did God clothe the first man and woman with animal skins? What kind of teacher would He be if He taught them to violate His own rule? The fact is that, since man first began to wear clothing, God Himself authorized people to use animal skin for that purpose!

Exodus 25:1-6; 26:7,14 - God expressly commanded people to use animal skins and animal hair in building the tabernacle. How can it be wrong to make things from animal skins, when God Himself expressly commanded people to use them in the tabernacle? [35:4-7,23; 36:14]

Leviticus 13:47-49,59 [15:17] - God gave instructions for cleansing garments made of leather. If it was wrong to wear leather, why would God arrange for people to continue doing it? [Num. 31:20]

Proverbs 31:13 - The woman, whom God used as an example for godly women, used wool as well as flax in her work.

2 Kings 1:7,8 - The faithful prophet Elijah was known for wearing a girdle made of leather.

New Testament Teaching

Matthew 3:4 - Like Elijah, John the Baptist was a faithful prophet who wore a leather girdle. John also wore camel's hair. Was he immoral and unethical?

Hebrews 11:37 - God specifically stated that some faithful Old Testament servants wore sheepskins and goatskins. So God upholds as examples of faith people who wore animal skins!

John 10:1-15; Psalms 23:1-4 - Throughout Scripture, God and Jesus compare themselves to shepherds. Multitudes of faithful Bible characters kept herds of sheep or goats, (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Job). Shepherds were among the first to whom Jesus' birth was announced and came to worship Him (Luke 2:8-20). [Luke 15:3-7; Psalms 78:52; Isaiah 40:11; Ezek. 34:11,12]

Proverbs 27:23-26 - But shepherds not only possessed and used and confined sheep and goats (as in a sheep fold), but they also used them for wool for clothing. [2 Kings 3:4; Hosea 2:9]

So, the Bible does not condemn the use of animal skins, fur, wool, or hair for clothing; rather, it expressly and repeatedly approves of it. This includes possessing, confining, using, and even killing animals. Once again the Animal Rights movement directly contradicts God's word.

Part 3: Religious and Moral Views of Animal Rights

I. Attempts to Defend Animal Rights Biblically

We have shown (and will later emphasize) that the main leaders in the Animal Rights movement do not base their positions on the Bible. However, the Bible is the recognized standard of morality for many people, so some proponents attempt to justify Animal Rights from Scripture. Some of these examples have already been discussed. Consider some others.

Genesis 1:29-31

Before sin, men and animals ate only plants. God's creation then was "very good." There was no death and no eating of animals. This was God's ideal. Death and eating animals began only after man sinned. We today should seek the ideal and should not kill or eat animals.

Answer: It is true that death came because the world has been cursed by sin; but we must live in the world as it is, not as it was in the past. When sin and its curse came into the world, God changed the rules by which man must live.

In the garden when everything was "very good," Adam and Eve did not wear clothes (2:25). Should we "seek the ideal" and go naked as they did? Immediately after the sin, God used animal skins to cover their nakedness (3:21). He approved of animal sacrifices (4:3-5). So the rules that applied in the garden do not apply now. God Himself changed the rules after sin entered.

We have abundantly proved by the Scriptures that God approves of man's use of animals for work, for clothing, and for food. This is God's law for today. Those who say otherwise are the ones rebelling against God's laws.

Nonviolence and Peace in the Jesus' Kingdom

The Old Testament predicted that Jesus' coming kingdom would be nonviolent - the lion will lie down with the lamb, etc. (Isaiah 11:6,7; 65:25). Jesus is the Prince of Peace. So we should seek to bring about that peace between man and animals now. [Hosea 2:18]

This argument fails to recognize the symbolic nature of prophecy.

The prophecies are now fulfilled in the church

Isaiah 11:1,6-10 - A rod or branch would grow from the root (stem) of Jesse (vv 1,10). This would result in peace among wild animals (vv 6-9).

But the context is clearly symbolic. It is agreed that the rod or branch is the Messiah. Is Jesus a literal rod, branch, or root? Will he literally strike the earth with a rod from his mouth (v4)? Will he have a literal belt of righteousness and faithfulness (v5)? If not, why should we take the animals and their conduct literal?

Note v10 - In that day Gentiles would seek this root. But Romans 15:9-12 tells us what day this refers to. It quotes Isaiah 11:10 to confirm the theme of Romans, which is that the gospel is for all men including Gentiles (Rom. 1:16). So the peace predicted in Isa. 11 refers to the salvation of all men, including Gentiles through the gospel at Jesus' first coming.

The prophesied peace was spiritual, not physical.

Remember, the prophecies are symbolic, not literal. Note the peace we have in the gospel.

John 14:27 - Jesus' first coming gave peace, not as the world gives - not physical peace. It gave peace so the heart would not be troubled nor fearful. [Phil. 4:6,7]

Romans 5:1 - Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. [Zech. 6:12,13; Col. 1:20-22; 3:15; Micah 5:2-5]

Ephesians 2:14-16 - The gospel also produced spiritual peace between Jew and Gentile (when they are converted by the gospel), because it removed the Old Law, which was a wall of partition between the two (cf. vv 11-13).

The peace predicted in Isa. 11 is spiritual peace in the spiritual kingdom, the church: peace between man and God and peace between Jew and Gentile. It is fulfilled in the church through the gospel. It has nothing to do with literal peace between men and animals, and does not in any way prove that men must not kill animals.

No Killing of Animals in Heaven

It is argued that no animals are killed in heaven. Christians pray, "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," so we should not kill animals on earth, like they are not killed in heaven.

First, there is no evidence that literal animals even exist in heaven. And we have shown earlier that the animals that live on earth have no spirits and so will not go to heaven. So this proves nothing.

Furthermore, the laws practiced in heaven are not necessarily the same as laws on earth.

Matthew 22:30 - In heaven there is no marriage. Yet people who forbid marriage on earth are guilty of apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-3; Heb. 13:4).

The rules for the past age of the Old Testament differ from the rules of the present New Testament age (Hebrews 10:1-10; 7:11-14; 8:6-13; 9:1-4; Galatians 3:24,25; 5:1-6; Romans 7:1-7; Colossians 2:13-17; etc.). So also the rules for the future affairs of heaven differ from the rules of the present practices on earth. We have no more right to use the rules of heaven as authority for our practice today than we have to use the Old Testament rules.

Jesus' model prayer teaches simply that whatever laws God makes for heaven are there respected and obeyed. Likewise, we should pray that whatever laws He gives for here on earth will be respected and obeyed here. But that does not prove that the laws in both places are the same.

How We Treat the Least Is How We Treat Jesus.

Verses are quoted showing that the way we treat others is how we treat Jesus: "As we do to the least, so we do to Him." This is applied to animals.

However, Jesus' statements actually refer to how we treat other people, not to how we treat animals.

Matthew 25:40 - "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Jesus is talking about how we treat other people, not how we treat animals. The context shows he is talking about clothing the naked, etc. [Luke 10:16; John 13:20]

Here again Animal Rights activists have taken principles that God spoke regarding people and applied them to animals. But we have learned that men are in God's image, so how we treat them is how we treat God's Son. But animals are not in God's image, so different rules apply.

God has also spoken about those who misuse and pervert His word. If Animal Rights activists are serious about Scripture, then they need to carefully consider the many passages that warn against using Scripture to teach something which clearly differs from what God intended it to teach. See Galatians 1:8,9; 2 John 9-11; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13.

General Passages about Mercy, Love, Compassion, etc.

Many verses are cited where Jesus calls on us to show mercy, love, compassion, etc. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy." "Blessed are the peacemakers."

But all Scripture must be applied in harmony with God's teachings. We have shown many verses that prove God rules for treating men are different from His rules for treating animals.

Biblical love and mercy require us to obey God's commands. They never justify us in setting our own rules of right and wrong. Read John 14:15,21-24; Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 5:2,3; 2 John 5,6. God's laws must guide our love and compassion, and we have seen that God's laws permit owning and controlling animals and using them for food and clothing.

Once again Animal Rights assumes that God's laws mean the same toward animals as they do toward man. And once again they ignore what God's word actually says. They change the rules as they see fit. We must handle God's word properly, not pervert it - 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:2.

Jesus Opposed Animal Sacrifices.

We are told that Jesus cast out those who sold animals in the temple, in order to prevent them from slaughtering animals. He said, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," so we should show mercy to animals not kill them.

During His lifetime Jesus obeyed the law of animal sacrifices and commanded others to do the same.

The Old Testament law remained in effect during Jesus' lifetime till He died (Heb. 9:16,17; Col. 2:14). During His lifetime, He respected the laws about animal sacrifices, and told others to obey them - Luke 2:24; Matthew 8:1-4.

He never told anyone not to offer the required animal sacrifices. If so, where? If He was opposed to killing animals, why did He defend and command people to sacrifice animals?

Jesus cast the sellers out of the temple because of His concern for the temple, not for the animals.

Matthew 21:13 - Jesus explained His action saying: "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'" Jesus' reasons had nothing to do with concern for the animals. His reasons pertained to the temple (God's house) and the people's corrupt business practices that disrespected the temple. [Mark 11:17]

John 2:16 - He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" Jesus was criticizing practices that violated the spiritual purpose of the temple.

We have cited many passages showing that Jesus authorized the killing of animals. His objection here was to the perversion of the temple.

Jesus nowhere spoke against the practice of animal sacrifices.

Matthew 9:13; 12:7 - His statement, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," did not mean He was opposed to animal sacrifices. He was calling for mercy, not on animals, but on people. In the one case the Pharisees were unjustly condemning Jesus' disciples, and in the other case they were showing no concern for sinners who needed salvation by the gospel.

Jesus' statement actually quoted the Old Testament (Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; 1 Samuel 15:22). Obviously, the Old Testament did not oppose animal sacrifices; so when Jesus quoted the Old Testament, why should we think that He did it to oppose animal sacrifices?

The point was that people who don't treat other people properly (mercy) should not expect God to accept their worship (sacrifices). Offering worship to God does not make up for the fact that people are disobeying God in other ways. This same principle was taught many other ways in God's word, but it never involved opposition to the killing of animals.

Animal sacrifices are not in the New Testament, because we have Jesus' sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:1-4,9,10 - Animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were a shadow or symbol to prepare people for the better sacrifice of Jesus. God removed the Old Law, with its animal sacrifices, because they could not really forgive sins. So now under the New Testament we have a better law, which includes the sacrifice of Jesus.

Animal sacrifices have ended, not because God opposes the killing of animals, but because they were ineffective in forgiving sin and are no longer needed under the gospel. But the gospel still allows people to kill animals for food and clothing, etc.

Laws against Killing

"It is certainly true that originally, God's commandment, 'Thou Shalt Not Kill,' applied exclusively to humans ... vegetarians are simply suggesting that it is now time to include animals" - They claim that God really never wanted men to kill animals, but he figured men would never obey a law against that. So He settled with commanding men not to kill men.

So once again Animal Liberation takes a Divine restriction about how we should treat people and changes it to a restriction on how we should treat animals. We have repeatedly explained this is incorrect, because God views men differently from animals. In fact, Genesis 9:3-6 expressly stated that animals and men are different in regard to killing, because men are in the image of God and animals are not.

But notice here how Animal Liberation openly admits that they are knowingly changing God's word. They openly acknowledge that they are applying God's command differently from what He meant! In short, they believe they have the right to change what God said in Scripture! They know better than He does! God has strong words for such people:

Galatians 1:9 - If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Revelation 22:18 - If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.

2 John 1:9 - Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.

II. Animal Rights' View of Scripture

The View of Animal Rights

As we have noted, Animal Rights defenders sometimes quote Scripture for their views. But what do the leaders of the movement believe about Scripture?

"...the Gospels were written generations after the resurrection ... None of the four Gospel writers ever met Jesus ... Most scholars agree that the post-resurrection stories of Jesus eating fish were added to the Gospels long after they were written..." "... evidence indicates that the story of the loaves and the fishes did not originally include fish ... Fish were added to the stories by Greek scribes..." "The letters to Timothy [were] written not by Paul but by one of his disciples 60 to 150 years after Paul's martyrdom..." - web site. Note that no ancient Bible manuscripts or other evidence is cited for these views. They are simply asserted without proof.

Singer and Regan, authors of the main Animal Rights defenses, "base their positions on modern secular reasons and eschew arguments based on religious suppositions" - Sherry, p4.

Singer wrote, "I don't believe in bibles: no book has a monopoly on truth" - p viii.

Contrary to Animal Libbers who cite the Bible, Singer acknowledges: "...there is no serious challenge [in the Old Testament] to the overall view laid down in Genesis, that the human species is the pinnacle of creation and has God's permission to kill and eat other animals." (p188)

And "...Christianity spread the idea that every human life - and only human life - is sacred. Even the newborn fetus and the fetus in the womb have immortal souls, and so their lives are as sacred as those of adults." (p191) So Singer admits the Bible teaches what we have said it does.

But, as a result of "the Darwinian revolution ... Human beings now knew that they were not the special creation of God, made in the divine images and set apart from the animals; on the contrary, human beings came to realize that they were animals themselves ... Only those who prefer religious faith to beliefs based on reasoning and evidence can still maintain that the human species is the darling of the entire universe, ... or that we have divine authority over [animals], and divine permission to kill them." (pp 206f) So, Singer acknowledges that modern Animal Rights views are based on evolution, and in fact those views contradict Scripture.

In an address to the national Animal Rights 2002 conference, ... prominent animal rights activist and Princeton University professor Peter Singer has called the influence of Christianity "the most harmful" obstacle to the "animal liberation" movement. Singer blamed "conservative mainstream fundamentalist" Christianity, which takes the Bible "too literally" and teaches that there exists "a huge gulf between humans and animals." Singer said the "problem" with the Christian worldview is the belief that unlike animals, humans are made in the image of God and possess souls. Furthermore, in the book of Genesis, God gave mankind dominion over the animal kingdom. Singer views his mission as that of challenging "this superiority of human beings" - CultureFacts, 7/29/2002.

So any effort of Animal Rights activists to cite Scripture for their views is misleading. The real leaders of the movement admit that Bible teaching does not agree with Animal Rights.

B. The Teaching of Scripture

We will take space here to summarize only a few points in defense of Biblical inspiration.

Bible writers claimed that all Scripture is inspired directly by God. This includes the gospel accounts of Jesus' life and the writings of Paul, including specifically the books of 1 and 2 Timothy - 2 Timothy 3:16,17. See also 2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2:10-13; Ephesians 3:3-5; John 16:13; Matthew 10:19,20; Galatians 1:8-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Luke 10:16.

Since God guided these writers, their writings must be infallible and inerrant - Numbers 22:35,38; 23:5,12,16,19,20; Deuteronomy 18:18-22; Psalm 19:7-9; 33:4; 119:128,142,160; John 17:17; Titus 1:2,3; Revelation 19:9; 21:5.

Specifically, the gospel writers claimed that their records were factual history based on their personal eyewitness or on personal conversations with eyewitnesses - John 21:24; Luke 1:1-4.

The books of 1 and 2 Timothy expressly claim that they were written by Paul based on his authority as an apostle - 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1.

Finally, Bible writers claimed they wrote a complete revelation of all the will of God for our day - 2 Timothy 3:16,17; John 16:13. Therefore, no one has the right to change what they wrote or to follow any standard other than what they wrote - Galatians 1:8,9; 2 John 9-11; Colossians 3:17; Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 14:12; 3:5,6; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13.

Some folks try to use Scripture to defend Animal Rights, but the leaders of the movement acknowledge that their views disagree with Scripture. So, the basic issue between Animal Liberation and Bible believers is the inspiration of Scripture.

For a study of the evidence that the Bible is the inspired word of God, we urge you to study our free articles on that subject on our Bible study web site at


I find it incredibly ironic that animal liberators are so squeamish about any inconvenience to animals - even if it results in great good to people - yet the very same people sometimes justify terrible immorality and wrongs against human beings.

Many of these folks never raise a whimper when millions of unborn human babies are murdered every year. Yet they vigorously object if someone milks cows or takes eggs from a chicken!

Peter Singer, who leads the Animal Rights movement, also "advocates allowing parents to kill their children in the first months of life because, he says, newborns are not yet fully human. He defends bestiality as an acceptable lifestyle choice..." - Washington Update, 7/10/03.

So you have committed immorality if you confine a cow against its will to get its milk, but have a sexual union with it and that's fine! You're wrong if you kill a fish, pig, or chicken to feed hungry people, but kill a human baby even months after it's been born and that's fine!

At the root of such obvious moral blunders is the fundamental failure to recognize the God-ordained distinction between people and animals. The fundamental issue is that man is in the image of God. Animals are not.

Reference Works

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) web site at, cited as of 2002.

Sherry, Clifford, Animal Rights: A Reference Handbook

Singer, Peter, Animal Liberation, 2nd Edition, Random House, 1990

Note: For evidence that God exists, the Bible is God's Divine revelation, and Jesus is God's Son, please consider our extensive articles of evidences. Click on this link: Evidences for God, Jesus, & the Bible

(C) Copyright 2003, 2013,David E. Pratte;
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Topics for further Bible study

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The Inspiration of the Bible
Evidence for Jesus' Resurrection
The Preservation of the Bible
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Divine Authority vs. Human Authority
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