Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him. (NLT)
When it comes to the animals, birds and fish of the world, we can fall into two opposite errors. One is to regard them as more or less human, or to put it another way, humans are just animals with a bit more refinement about them most of the time.
But this is to ignore the fact that only humans were made in the image and likeness of God. The animal world does not have the moral accountability to God that is the privilege and burden of we humans. And it ignores the clear implication of texts like this which suggest that no animal made by God was suitable as the ‘just right’ companion for the first human.
There are some who reckon their dog is better company than other people—and they may have a point! Yet when God made humans, he made them for companionship with other humans, irrespective of how loveable our animals might be.
Which leads to a warning against that other error of dismissing animal creation as somehow unimportant and to regard animals as merely playthings of humans to be exploited according to our whims. God made these creatures, hence they matter to him and so to us. So mistreatment of them is a violation of our duty to care for all of God’s creation.
We humans can love and value our dogs and birds and cats and whatever else means something to us. We treat them with care because God made them with care. And some of us would say they are part of the new heavens and the new earth as well. But humans need other humans to be fully human.
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