If I could choose only one anti-animal argument to avoid hearing ever again, it would definitely be the misquote of Genesis 1:28 and the allegation that human “dominion” means that God gave us absolute power to do as we please to all other animals. I’ve heard that verse used to justify everything from tormenting animals in laboratories to sending them to slaughterhouses and from engaging in “sport” hunting to forcing animals to perform in circuses.
So you can imagine how excited I was when PETA LAMBS sat down for an interview with widely respected theologian Father Christopher Steck, whose research has brought him to the same conclusion that many other Biblical scholars have reached: God never intended “dominion” to mean “domination.” He meant it to mean “care.”
Although he has always been a man of faith, Steck intended to spend his career in electrical engineering, earning a master’s degree and going to work for Texas Instruments. He was even awarded a patent for a circuit he designed. But when God calls you to change paths, you do it. So he earned his Ph.D. in Christian ethics from Yale University and became an associate professor of theology and religious studies at Georgetown University. A principal focus of his work is exploring humanity’s relationship to other animals from a Biblical perspective.
Steck’s conclusions make perfect sense. Why would God ever condone violence, cruelty, and suffering? The pain that humans inflict on animals in order to experiment on them, eat them, wear them, and use them for entertainment directly contradicts the message of kindness, love, and peace that Jesus came to share. Other animals may look different from humans, they may speak different languages and have different skill sets, but they are God’s creation. And in that, we are all the same. Then there’s the other glaring problem with the Genesis 1:28 argument: It completely ignores the next two verses:
And God said, “Behold, I give you every plant that produces seeds upon the earth and every tree that has fruit with its seed inside of it: these shall be your food. And I give all green plants to every wild animal and to all the birds of the air and to all creatures that move upon the surface of the earth and that have the breath of life in them.” And it was so.—Genesis 1:29–30
The Garden of Eden was vegan. When sin entered the world, so, too, did animal suffering. But God called His faithful to strive to avoid a life of sin. Surely that means treating His creation with mercy and compassion.
Are you ready to show “radical love” to the whole of God’s creation? Order a free vegan starter kit today, and share this video with your faith community.