The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel. (NLT)
One of the more painful experiences for humans is when a much-loved pet dies. The question arises as to whether there are animals in heaven. There seems no reason to exclude them, though we might make exceptions with cockroaches and funnel webs! The new heavens and the new earth will be much like this earth with all imperfection gone and all good things enhanced. Since animals were part of God’s good original creation, we might assume they belong in the new creation.
This is part of a wider issue involving how we treat animals, birds, fish etc. On the one hand humans are given dominion over them. They are not made in the image and likeness of God as are human beings. On the other hand, as our text indicates, we are to care for their welfare. They feel pain. They are not to be abused.
Some conclude from this that becoming vegan is the best option, others reckon humans can kill animals as necessary for food. It would seem all those who are godly ought to refrain from cruelty towards animals, but beyond that there is much diversity of opinion.
Having dominion does not mean human beings can do as they please towards animal creation. But it does mean we are a unique species and are not in exactly the same place in God’s order of creation. As in many areas of life, there are competing rights. The rights of animals and the rights of humans. But just as there are rights there are responsibilities.
Having dominion doesn’t mean doing what we like. It means we treat all creation as the work of God. We may be unique and special, but we are also accountable.