As a newly ordained pastor into the Office of the Holy Ministry, I’m on an email list of other new pastors where an older, more experienced pastor sends us weekly encouragements and advice. This week, he encouraged us to read through the Bible.That might sound odd because, after all, isn’t that most of what pastors do is read the Bible? Sure, if by reading you mean studying. Yet he made a sharp distinction between reading the Bible and studying the Bible. They’re different but not altogether separate exercises. So, he encouraged us to read through the Bible annually. While there are multiple 1-year Bible reading plans, one method he suggested is called the Mehren’s Method where you take the number of Bible pages divided by 365 (the days of the year, which will need to be adjusted during a leap year), and you’ll get the number of pages to read daily.
I decided to try this method, and there’s some adjustments to be made. I’m utilising my little Bible I take with me on pastoral visits that’s about 6 inches tall that way I can do this more easily than with my humongous Lutheran Study Bible when I need to travel. I’ll also be less likely to consult the LSB commentary since the point of this devotional exercise is to read through the Bible. When rounding up, my daily page limit is 3 pages, but it will mostly be something like 3.5 to 4 pages because there are many times when I still have a whole chapter to read after the 3rd page, so I’ll finish that chapter even if it means I read an extra page or two.
Now that I’ve spouted enough exposition, after reading Genesis 1-4 for my first day, I had many thoughts and gleanings from Scripture that I’d like to share, so I developed this new series: Pastoral Thoughts.
My first pastoral thought has to do with the creation account. The main thing many people focus on with the creation account is the fact that Genesis details a literal 6-day creation. There are many disagreements on this, of course. Some believe in a 6-day creation but these are not 24-hour days while others maintain a literal 6-day and 24-hour creation. I’m bold enough to fall into the latter category since after each day of creation, the Scripture says “and there was evening and there was morning, the _____ day” (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). There’s evening and morning in a 24-hour day, so to me that’s the clearest indication of 24-hour days.
Anyway, that’s not the point of this article and that’s not what I want to focus on. Though important, a 6-day creation in Genesis is not the only important thing to glean from the creation account. Perhaps more importantly, we have the value of humanity in God’s eyes.
After each kind of creature is made, the creation “was good” in God’s eyes. Yet when He creates mankind, “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God values all His creation, but mankind is the jewel of His creation. We see this when He gives mankind dominion to subdue the earth and all that is in it (Genesis 1:26-28). Yet this isn’t the only clear indication of God’s favour for humanity and neither is it the focus of my thoughts either. Perhaps I’ll save that for next year when I read through the Bible again. Instead, my focus is on Genesis 2:18-24:
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
So, the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept He took one of his ribs and closed up its place with its flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Everything in creation was good. Everything was perfect. Yet God saw that it was not good that man should be alone. As the man, later called Adam, did his work on the earth and named the animals, he discovered that no single animal was fit to be his helper. So, God made one for him. However, God did not not make another creature of the land, sea, or air. Instead, God made another human creature. The only human creature Adam was familiar with was a male creature. God didn’t make another one of these for Adam either. Instead, He made for him a woman.
Of course, this has obvious implications for marriage, and that being only between a man and a woman. Yet again, as you might’ve guessed from the title of this article, that’s not my focus either. Instead, I want to continue the discussion that humans are better than animals, even cats and dogs. We can jokingly say our pets are better than humans because they don’t try to openly sin against us, and while this is true, theologically speaking, humans are better than animals.
I love cats and dogs as much as the next guy, especially cats. All animals of the earth need to be properly cared for by humans since we have been given dominion over the earth and everything in it. (And as my wife likes to remind me, this includes spiders for some reason. She loves spiders. She’s weird.) However, here’s the crux of the matter: humans are better than cats, dogs, and whatever else because humans are created in God’s image and no animal was found fit to be man’s helper.
Is the dog man’s best friend? Though certainly wonderful, cute, and joyful creatures to have around, the answer is no. Scripture testifies to the fact that no animal—not even a dog—was found fit to be man’s helper, or his best friend. Dogs, horses, cattle, and other animals certainly do help us in various ways (because we’re subduing them), but they still fall short as the perfect physical, emotional, and spiritual companion.
Though many deviants certainly try, animals are not the perfect physical/sexual companion. The opposite sex is. Though animals can provide deep emotional support, they cannot provide our most basic emotional needs. Only a spouse of the opposite sex can. Though we can appreciate and love these animals as God’s creations, they cannot provide deep, meaningful spiritual companionship. Only human creatures can, especially one’s spouse. The problem with such pet idolatry is that people begin treating them as humans, which only perpetuates the devaluation of human life.
Humans are better than cats and dogs because, ever since the beginning of creation, God created the human family. I won’t go so far as to say that every person needs to get married because it’s not God’s will that every person get married. Some are blessed to be in the vocation of singleness and/or celibacy and still lead God-fulfilling lives. However, whether married or single, every single person belongs to a family. And when you’re a Christian, you belong to a larger family: the family of God in Christ Jesus, which we call the church. While God created animals for us to subdue, God created humans for each other.
Many are adamant about arguing that cats and dogs are better than humans in every way, but Scripture simply does not agree. While animals may be less likely to hurt us in a sinful way (they can still bite, scratch, and kill), they always fall short in every physical, emotional, and spiritual way. Humans are created in His image. Humans are created for one another. And consider to whom God’s Word has been written and is spoken—to His human creatures, to you.
I still want a cat (or two) as a pet. Maybe even a dog some day (Bernese mountains dogs are my favourite). My heart still melts at adorable photos and videos of kittens and puppies. Yet the Lord has given me a wife, a father, mother, brother, sister, friends, colleagues, mentors, and, of course, a flock not of sheep but of God’s children. These people whom God is given to me and for me are of much higher value than any pet I may own. For they have been created in God’s image.
For Christ died and rose again for them.