We are due to have another baby this June. We currently have one son and one daughter. Over the years, I have heard from many people that they view their dog, or cat, the same way I view my kids. While I understand the sentiment, I think it is a way to communicate that their pets are truly important to them, I have always been troubled by the idea.
With that in mind, I admit that I have thought about telling people, "I am very excited about the new baby. Why it will be like a puppy to me. I love my kids so much, they are like pets. My son is like a good dog and my daughter is like a lovely cat. They mean so much to me!" I think that maybe this would be shocking if I actually said it, I hope so, but I think it is basically saying the same thing. My dog is like your kid = my kid is like your dog. I also wonder about loving hamsters and canaries. What if I said, "My Iguana means to me what your Aunt Milie means to you." What if I said, "When my ant farm fell off the table it was like when that school bus crashed. I love those little ants." It isn't that I think pets do not matter. I do, however, wonder why people want to claim they matter as much as humans.
I see Bolivia wants to give the Earth a human status. Apparently the UN is going to act on this at some point. I see that the Episcopal church is pretty excited about Earth Day falling on Good Friday. One gets the impression that there is some joy that we finally have something that matters to celebrate that day. [I have posted links below, mainly so you do not think I am making this up.] Let me emphasize, I believe we have an obligation to care for animals and to care for the world. I believe that our God-given roles as stewards entails such activity. I believe we need to be good caretakers. I believe animals should not be mistreated. But there is something going on with our talk about pets and earth day which goes too far.
This is not a new concern. When I was a teenager I went to see the movie Earthquake (in Sensaround!). When the earthquake hits, about a third of the way through the movie, the destruction is pretty intense. Many people are killed and injured. In one scene, a woman finds a puppy. As she picked it up, the entire movie theater erupted with an emotional "aaawwwww!" Clearly, everyone felt good about the puppy. I remember turning to my friend and saying, "People die, no one cares, a puppy gets found and every one is touched?" Seriously, I know puppies are cute, but do we not value human lives?
The cross of Jesus is more than a useful metaphor for ecological awareness. To call the earth the body of God borders on pantheism (or perhaps has crossed the border into pantheism). To equate German shepherds with seven year old boys is to devalue humanity. It is all based on the inability to think clearly. We have lost a sense of order and proper proportion.
I have my own theories on why this is so. Individualism allows us to make our own decisions and declarations about who and what matter. So whatever moves me (my cat, my love for the mountains) can be given ultimate value to me. Once I have decided it is so, it is so. However, there are repurcussions to that sort of thinking. Sadly, the results of distorted thinking take a while to become manifest. The Episcopal church's love affair with the UN's Millenial Development Goals lasted a couple of years. Now we are "all ecology all the time." This is reflective of the wider culture, an increasingly anti-Christian culture.
You become what you worship. Nature is not pleasant (cf volcanoes). Nature is cold and brutal (cf. animals eating one another). Nature is beauty, but distruction (cf. storms and fires). Those who worship earth and animals become more earth-like and more animal-like. We project humanity onto other life forms and make them more human. [That is why pets dogs are 'part of the family'. That is why we use the term Mother Earth.] God, in Jesus, is affording us the same opportunity. To kneel before His cross and worship Him makes us less earth and animal, and more new creation, more godly. We need to be more aware of God's message in the cross, that His love knows no limits. God will reach to us to save, regardless the cost.We need to elevate our human nature to HIM and HIS call. We need to be careful of what we say and how we say it.