A friend told me yesterday that there’s a billboard in Milwaukee that depicts a pig and makes some jab at the Medical College of Wisconsin for their use of live pigs in one of their research labs. MCW made the decision to use pigs instead of dogs after receiving complains from PETA or a similar organization. According to one source, “Pigs are highly intelligent, social animals who have been shown to be more intelligent than dogs. Animal behavior experts agree, and scientific evidence suggests, that pigs are very smart, very sensitive animals.” I don’t care how sensitive pigs are, there is nothing that makes them deserving of special treatment.
You cannot deny the fact that pigs are and have been considered by many cultures to be dirty, smelly, despicable animals. Take for example, the German language. The word for pig, schwein, is often used as a vulgar insult. We see a similar attitude toward these creatures in Biblical days. In Matthew 7:6, Jesus exclaims, "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." Swine are used to depict the antithesis of what is holy. If Christ is the epitome of holiness, then swine are pretty lowly.
The root of this problem lies much deeper than words. The problem is with a basic misunderstanding of the difference between mankind and animals. Animals are, well, animals. God created them, as he did mankind, and they were good, as was mankind. However, there are a few key distinctions between animals and mankind:
- God created man in His own image. In Genesis 1:26, we hear God say, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” The creatures, on the other hand, were not made in God’s image.
- God charged man with caring for the animals. In the second half of 1:26, we see God say, "let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." As part of having dominion over the animals, I don’t think it’s going to be the end of the world if we have to kill, experiment with, or use a few animals in laboratory testing. After all, it was God who killed the first animal for the sake of his created beings
. When God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden, "also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21). Tunics of skin could have only been through the sacrifice of (an) animal(s).
- Christ came to die for mankind, not for animals.
Now I’m not an advocate of killing every pig that comes into sight or other aimless, pointless slaughter of these creatures. We need to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. However, what’s really the problem with using a few pigs in experiments aimed at improving science and medicine? If the death of a few swine allows us to save even ONE human life, thus giving that person more time to either a) hear the Gospel and receive Christ or b) having believed, share Christ with someone else, then I’m all for it.