During my first year in college I decided to become a vegetarian for Jesus. That’s not what I said, but it’s essentially what I did. As I rediscovered Jesus in the life of John Wesley and the faces of the poor, loving God and loving my neighbor took on new meaning and new primacy in my life.
It was in the midst of this new creation being brought to life in me that I decided to become a vegetarian: a week at first, and now going on six years (minus those soups that weren’t supposed to have ham or bacon).
In recent months we have seen several animal rights issues being raised. And the consensus, or at least the majority opinion is that we shouldn’t hurt whales with our sonar, we shouldn’t slaughter sick and injured cattle, we shouldn’t slaughter horses, and we shouldn’t allow dog fighting.
What criteria determines which animals we can kill for our benefit? How do we decide which animals are lucky enough to be worth saving and which animals are unworthy of life? As a Christian, I cannot make such distinctions, except in cases where human life is at stake or the quality of animal life is at stake.
For me to follow Jesus, to walk in the way of love, to love God and neighbor also means being loving. As I seek to be a loving person, to kill or eat animals runs in contradiction to my identity. Though the wolves, lambs, cattle, bears, children, and snakes do not yet live in the harmony that Isaiah depicts, I will try to do what I can to live into that new creation.