FUR COMMISSION USA COMMENTARY, NOVEMBER 30, 1999

(Last revised Sept. 1, 2008)

Jesus Was an Omnivore, God the Father Was a Furrier

At Passover, where lamb is served, Jesus told his disciples: "For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth." [Luke 22:26-27]

AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER, the Holy Bible has been used to advance a cornucopia of causes, some noble, some not so. For those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, who taught of a loving God, "God is on our side" has to be one of the most obscene rallying cries ever written.

In a modern-day example of exploitation of the Bible, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Except Human Animals), or PeTA, has launched a nationwide campaign claiming that "Jesus was a vegetarian". Christians around the country complained immediately and loudly. Church leaders stated plainly that they were insulted by such a gross misrepresentation of the Lord's teachings when the basis of Christianity is that the human animal is the ONLY animal with an immortal soul. PeTA's philosophy, that all animals are created equal, is in direct conflict with Christian beliefs.

If one looks to the Bible for direction, it appears we were warned about this campaign a long time ago:

[I]n the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy, ... and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. [1 Timothy, Chapter 4:1-4]

Amazing! How did Timothy know that one day we'd be coping with PeTAphiles?

If one wanted to turn the tables on PeTA, the following could be used as the basis of a campaign against vegetarianism:

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" [Genesis 3:2-3]

Everyone knows what happened next. Adam and Eve ate the apple, got kicked out of paradise, went to work, bore children in pain, grew old and died. "Eat fruit and die" could be the misleading soundbite.

For the people of the fur trade, our favorite passage is:

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins and clothed them. [Genesis 3:21]

This proves, of course, that God IS a furrier. (Now and forever. Amen.)

According to Genesis 4, Adam and Eve had two sons, Abel, a keeper of sheep, and Cain, a tiller of the ground. Both made offerings to the Lord and the Lord had respect for Abel's offering, the firstling of his flock, but for Cain's offering, the fruits of the ground, the Lord had not respect. This made Cain angry and he slew his brother in the field and the Lord asked him, "here is Abel thy brother?" And Cain uttered those famous words, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

And the Lord was distraught. "What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth."

Moral of this sad story? Don't kill your brother and the Lord loves a good BBQ.

Or maybe, as some think, God wanted the meat for himself and he gave humans only fruits and vegetables to eat. After all, he said,

By Genesis 9, God was making a new covenant with Noah, given humans new direction about their relationship with the earth. He told Noah and his family: "And the fear ear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it. I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you-the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you-every living creature on earth.I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth. So God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth."

It's a lovely story. Full of serious messages and promises.

Obviously God told Noah and his descendents that they could clearly eat meat but to ensure the animal was dead before cooking it. Good advice.

So, was Jesus a vegetarian? PeTA insists Jesus was a vegetarian but the Bible tells us that this carpenter also helped catch fish and compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a good day's catch. Fishermen have considered Jesus one of their own ever since:

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore. He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. [John 21:4-6]

"Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish." [Matthew 13:47-48]

Fish caught and EATEN. Catch and release was not done in Jesus's day. Add to this the miracle of the loaves and fishes:

The followers answered, "But we only have five loaves of bread and two fish." Jesus said, "Bring the bread and the fish to me," he said. [Matthew 14:17-21]

Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes and fed over 5,000 that day. Bread AND meat.

The wool-growers and sheep herders loved Him when He said:

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." [John 10: 11, 14]

"MY sheep." Jesus recognized ownership of domesticated animals.

At Passover, where lamb is served, Jesus told his disciples:

For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth. [Luke 22:26-27]

Not only did Jesus partake of the meat at Passover, he lectured on how much greater it is to SERVE the meal.

Jesus taught us, over the dinner table, to serve one another. Jesus was an ominivore, a very humble omnivore.


NOTES & RESOURCES:

Genesis 9: God's Covenant With Noah

1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.
2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands.
3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
4 "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.
5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.
6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.
7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it."
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
9 "I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you
10 and with every living creature that was with you-the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you-every living creature on earth.
11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth."
12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:
13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,
15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."
17 So God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth."


The following letter concerning PeTA's Biblical interpretation appeared in The Ottawa Citizen, March 4, 2001:

PETA shows disrespect with slasher Jesus

Maybe the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals should consider putting out April Fool's Day cards instead of Easter ones ("Anti-meat ads take aim at Easter celebrants," March 1). It's certainly harder and harder to take this juvenile organization seriously.

Maybe Jesus was a vegetarian. I don't know. Unlike the folks from PETA, I wasn't alive at the time of the Last Supper.

I do know that Jesus was a faithful Jew, which meant he would have eaten lamb during religious feasts. I guess he could have given it up for Lent. But didn't he also multiply the loaves and fishes? Strange thing for a veggie lover to do.

Jesus also chose fishermen to be his apostles. Using PETA's logic, perhaps this was his way of getting their murdering nets out of the Sea of Galilee. Odd too, that Jesus chose to refer to himself as a sacrificial lamb, when he could have sent a clear message by choosing to be the unblemished rutabaga.

But in all seriousness, I think many practising Christians, like myself, are getting tired of the recent wave of disrespect shown to our beliefs. We have naked women on crosses in art galleries, breakfast cereal Last Supper parodies and now the topper - PETA's slasher Jesus.

The creators of these works always fall back on a common refrain: We are making a daring statement that will get people's attention. Yet I wonder why these courageous crusaders never seem to play with the beliefs of Islam or Judaism. I don't recall PETA speaking out during Ramadan or Hanukkah.

I smell a hypocritical rat, and I'll try not to eat it.

David Goulet,
Barry's Bay

The following commentary appeared in The Ottawa Citizen, July 21, 2000:

Thou Shalt Not Be Silly

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has put up billboards showing the Biblical Jehovah (or just possibly Moses, one of his prophets), ''reminding'' people that ''I said thou shalt not kill.'' Here's what the Bible actually says about killing animals, in Genesis, Chapter 4, verses 2 to 5: ''And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering. But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.''

No sophist, however skilled, could claim that Abel brought live lambs or that the fat in question had been sweated off in an early health club. He brought dead animals, animals he'd raised and then killed. And God was right pleased. PETA must know that.

Oh, by the way, there is also ''Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.'' And just in case PETA don't consider God its neighbour, there's also ''Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.'' It's all in the Bible.

Further reading:

Thou shalt not kill (animals)? Is this a blanket condemnation of food-animal production? By Kevin Murphy, Truth in Food, Aug. 20, 2009.

Holy cows. How PeTA twists religion to push animal rights. Also illustrated handout, in PDF format. Center for Consumer Freedom commentary. Outside links. (Apr. 22, 2006)

Animal lover, PETA hater. Center for Consumer Freedom commentary, including a Franciscan Brother's perspective. Outside link. (Feb. 1, 2006)

Animal rights and Catholicism By Dr. James Beers, biologist (retired), US Fish & Wildlife Service. Outside link. (January 2001)

Introduction to Catholic environmental justice. By Bill Jacobs, director, Catholic Conservation Center. Outside link. (January 2001)

Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship Issued by the Interfaith Council for Environmental Stewardship (ICES).

Should we hunt? While it is true in today's society people do not have to hunt in order to survive, is there a biblical mandate which prohibits a person from taking animals for food? By Rev. David Roose, for Christian Bowhunters of America.

Jesus Wept for Jerusalem; PeTA Wept for the Ass FCUSA commentary, Mar. 18, 2003.

For searching the Bible, try Bible Gateway at http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible.


For further information contact Fur Commission USA.

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