The theologian - Also in the Bible it becomes clear: Animals should not be killed
Ecclesiastical doctrine against better judgement
Animals are killed ruthlessly all over the world, and most people are not offended. The main blame for this lies with the priests and theologians of the Protestant and Catholic Church who still allow the killing of animals and thus contradict the teachings of Jesus and their own Bible. They do it deliberately, because they themselves have worked out the relevant doctrine of the Bible, e.g. in a discussion contribution of the Council of the EKD of 1991 on animal protection (Zur Verantwortung des Menschen für das Tier als Mitgeschöpf, Ein Diskussionsbeitrag des Wissenschaftlichen Beirat des Beauftragten für Umweltfragen des Rates der EKD, EKD-Text 41, 1991). And they themselves have found and documented more than enough biblical references which condense into a compelling plea against an alleged right to kill and eat animals.
In this contribution to the discussion of the Protestant Church in Germany, for example, it says that the earth and everything that is on it and all who dwell on it belong to God alone (Psalm 24:1). Man in God's image (Genesis 1:27) is to embody the goodness of God, who is kind to all His creatures (Psalm 145:9), and, again, God has no pleasure in the death of that which lives.
"The righteous have mercy on animals"
God said in the Bible that man should dominate the earth (Genesis 1:28). But what man destroys, he can no longer dominate. In God's image he has to take his example from the prototype - God; but then "domination" means "loving care", "cherishing preservation" (Genesis 1:15). Domination demands responsibility for the dominated. This applies precisely to the relationship of man to his fellow creatures, the animals (cf. Psalm 8 ). As God meant man's dominion over animals, it is clearly stated: "The righteous have mercy on the animals; for only the heart of the wicked is merciless toward the animals" (Proverbs 12:10). People should recognize that they and the animals share the same fate, because both owe their lives equally to God - man has nothing ahead of the animal in this respect (Ecclesiastes 3:18-21; see also Isaiah 66:3: "He who slaughters a bull is like him who slays a man"). This can also be seen in the Sabbath rest, which applies equally to man and beast (Ex 20:10). God demands consideration for the weaker. A cow and a donkey, for example, should not be clamped together for ploughing (Exodus 22:10). All this is correctly worked out in the evangelical scriptures.
And what is more, all the statements in the Bible about man and beast are in the light of the expectation of a different, new world and peace in and with creation. The story of creation (Genesis 1:29f) proves that the world made very well by God knew no bloodshed among animals and humans: Both are assigned vegetable food. This so-called peace of creation is also the subject of Old Testament promises of the coming new world: "There the wolves will dwell with the lambs and the panthers will lie down with the goats ...". (Isaiah 11:6-9; cf. 65:17ff). Jesus of Nazareth seamlessly follows Isaiah, because His gospel of the kingdom of God is justly to be preached not only to all men but to all creation (Mark 16:15: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creatures"). God's justice (dikaiosyne) is a common right of all creatures, on the ground of God's law, which is love. But love does no evil to anyone else. (Romans 13:10)
With the coming of Jesus of Nazareth the circle closes. Starting from the very well created world, through the fallen sinful world, everything returns to the kingdom of God, which with Jesus of Nazareth not only took its beginning on earth, but is already "within" every human being (Luke 17:21). Where the laws of God are fulfilled, the kingdom of God is already present on earth (see: "Where the power of sin is broken, all evil has given way, only God reigned alone, as it once was at the beginning of world history"; Prof.Dr.Dr.Hartmut Stegemann, Die Essener, Qumran, Johannes der Täufer and Jesus, Freiburg 1993).
"And behold, it was very good"
"And God said: `Behold, I have given you all the plants that bring seed, all over the earth, and all the trees and fruits that bring seed, for your food. But to all animals on earth and to all birds under heaven and to all worms that live on earth, I have given all green herb for food.` And so it happened. And God looked at all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." (Genesis 1:29-31)
Was it really very good? What was God doing? Besides the fleshly creatures, man and animal, he has produced vegetable creatures. And the vegetable creatures have a creative mission, a task, a purpose: namely to be food for man and animal. So this is creation-conditioned, God wanted it that way, He decreed it. And - did He do that well? Yes - He has.
For when we eat plants and the seeds of plants, then we do not kill, we do not even inflict pain anymore. The plants do not die because we eat from them, they simply grow again, again and again, as often as we eat from them, humans and animals. As vegetarians we know the arguments of meat eaters over the years: "It is the same whether you are meat or plants, they are both living beings!
But it is not the same. If I want to eat meat, I must kill, destroy life. With plants I do not kill, they do not die and they do not suffer. Why? If someone cuts your hair, it does not hurt, unless he does it lovelessly, roughly and tears at it. It is the same with plants. Cutting grass is like cutting hair, it doesn't hurt the meadow. Whatever you do with the cut hair afterwards, it won't hurt you. So even if you use the ripe fruit of a tree or shrub, you don't kill the tree or shrub, and it doesn't hurt it. Why is all this so? Because God has furnished it that way, He has thought it through well, how it is best. And after He had done it, He looked at everything and "it was very good", He rejoiced about it. God is just brilliant. God wants it that way. We learn this on the first pages of the Bible.
After Christ: "No longer allowed to eat animal meat."
By the way, all this had already been recognized by Church Father Jerome, who compiled the Catholic Bible, the Vulgate, which is still binding today, when he wrote: "The enjoyment of the animal flesh was unknown until the Flood; but since the Flood we have been stuffed with the fibers and the stinking juices of the animal flesh in our mouths; as in the desert we were accused of the grumbling, sensuous people of quail. Jesus Christ, who appeared when the time was fulfilled, again linked the end with the beginning, so that we are no longer allowed to eat animal meat" (Adversus Jovinianum I, 18) - a sentence which, however, does not appear in the EKD study - presumably because Hieronymus speaks plain language.
And of course one can ask oneself: Did Hieronymus misunderstand something or did he only know more than today's denominations want to admit? And anyone who wants to find an honest answer to honest questions will agree with Hieronymus. That it was different in the meantime and that the consumption of meat was allowed by priests and scribes (e.g. priests in the Old Testament, Paul) will be finally overcome at the end of time. This is how the prophet of God Isaiah described it ("Lions will eat straw like cattle ... And a child will put his hand in the viper's den"; 11, 7-8) And so Jesus himself taught it, which becomes even clearer if one includes the statements of and about him outside the Bible. For example, the church father Epiphanius writes that the Ebionites or Ebionites he called (after a man named Ebion), when asked why they strictly rejected meat dishes and the cult of sacrifice, explained that Jesus had told them so (Panarion 30, 18, 9), a very essential ancient testimony to the thinking of Jesus of Nazareth. And precisely this is also confirmed by the "holy" Church Father Jerome, who is "holy" for the Catholic Church. Since Christ it is "no longer allowed" us to "eat animal meat".
Rightly it is always said that the conversion of man and his will for peace must begin in the immediate environment of man; and this refers not only to his fellow human beings, but also to his fellow creatures, to animals and to all nature. The glory of the kingdom of God explicitly includes all creation (Romans 8:18-25). All hopes for peace and non-violence are raised and awakened when we pray in the Lord's Prayer: "Your kingdom come. (Matthew 6:10)
The lost paradise is thus regained. In the end it will be as it was in the beginning. No more blood will be shed in the kingdom of God (Revelation 21:3-4; Isaiah 11:6-9). But how is the kingdom of God to come if we human beings do not stop shedding blood? While we wait for the return of Christ, we should already do our utmost to live as Christ wants us to live - gentle, just and merciful (Matthew 5:5-7). This was and is the will of God. From now on, at the latest, no one can talk their way out and say: "I don't know what God wants". Even the one who only accepts the Bible can read it there many times. We know what God wanted in the beginning. We know how He wants the end. From what was in Paradise at the beginning and what will be in God's Kingdom of Peace at the end, a person who believes in the Bible will also recognize what God wants according to his faith. And how do I then behave in the meantime? We also find clear words about this in the 2nd Epistle to Peter: "But we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth according to His promise, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, my dear ones, while you wait for it, make an effort that you may be unblemished before Him and found blameless in peace" (3:13-14). This means that I am already living in accordance with the new heavens and the new earth, which also means that I will no longer have animals killed for my enjoyment of the palate and will no longer eat their flesh.
Priests allowed eating meat as part of the sacrifice
These many clear biblical words are opposed in the Bible, after the sacrifices were abolished by Jesus of Nazareth, above all by two sentences in which the eating of meat and thus the killing of animals is expressly permitted: Genesis 9:2-3 and 5, Genesis 12:15 - and both passages were written by priests for the sinful, fallen world in order to make sacrifice possible there. And he who clings to them clings to the old sinful world. But Jesus came to overcome them. Consequently, these last two sentences of Christians following Jesus must also be overcome and abandoned. No Christian today adheres to the Old Testament laws of sacrifice. They too are overcome through Christ.
According to Bible scholars, Genesis 9:3 was necessarily written by priests to be able to use animal sacrifices. Without Genesis 9:3 not a single animal sacrifice would have been possible in the Bible, because otherwise they would all contradict Genesis 1:29. And Genesis 5:12,15 was possibly written by priests to centralize the sacrifices in Jerusalem under King Josiah and King Hezekiah. For this religious-political reason, the consumption of meat was disconnected from the sacrifice as a concession for more distant tribes. This means that if these tribes want to eat meat, they do not have to sacrifice it as an exception, for which they would have had to travel specially to Jerusalem.
All these decisions were made by priests, so it all had religious significance. And it was always the priests who wanted the victims and who therefore regulated the killing of the animals according to their ideas of sacrifice. But God never wanted sacrifices (Jeremiah 7:22: "Make your burnt offerings your sacrifices and eat flesh! But I did not tell your fathers about burnt offerings and sacrifices on the day I brought them out of Egypt,"). Nor did God want animals to be killed (Genesis 1:29) - not even outside sacrifices. In contrast to serious statements in the Bible that forbid the killing and sacrifice of animals, such as Genesis 1:29, the pastors and priests repeatedly suggested the opposite to people - even today.
But today it is much worse than in the times of the Old Testament.
If among people of the Old Testament there was as a rule no other way to get a meat meal than by sacrifice (with the exception of fish and poultry, or - as just explained here - one lived far away from the sanctuary), then we cannot justify our consumption of meat today with these circumstances. As we come to our meat meal today, it is not permitted anywhere in the Bible. On the contrary, there are always laws there to prevent the unrestrained consumption of meat that is common today. And if the little meat that people ate at that time should always be prepared in connection with a religious act, and if God had entrusted all animals to the care of man, then the Church cannot possibly claim that mass animal husbandry and large slaughterhouses are permitted by the Bible. Even the roast, which originates from the production of meat by farmers in the Alpine region, is contrary to these commandments.
If people in the time of the Old Testament wanted to eat meat occasionally, they could not simply sacrifice their sheep at home. Mind you, "sacrifice", not simply slaughter. They had to take the sheep to a priest at the altar. The practice of boundless and unrestrained meat consumption practiced today in the Old Testament is prevented precisely by religious and cultic laws and guidelines. And violations of these rules were severely punished, as can be read in Exodus 17. We cannot possibly say: In the Old Testament the eating of meat in connection with sacrifice was made possible, we do not sacrifice any more since Jesus, but we still do eat meat - just without sacrifice. Unless someone gets up to say that the meat counter in the supermarket is God's replacement for the altar of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem! But these meat counters are biblically unjustifiable.
Jesus taught the disciples not to kill animals and not to eat their flesh. The reason why He occasionally ate meat or fish was that He would not snub a host who meant well. This is written in extra-biblical gospels. On occasion, however, Jesus explained what God's will was (see above all the passages from "The Gospel of Jesus: Jesus was a friend of animals").
Paul too would be a vegetarian today.
In ecclesiastical Christianity, however, people also like to refer to Paul. And what did Paul say about this topic?
Today, Bible readers also like to use Paul as a justification for eating meat - wrongly, as we can see on closer inspection. Paul does not commit himself and leaves the decision to eat meat or not to each individual - probably also in order not to alienate anyone. There are three Bible passages in which Paul writes about eating meat: 1 Corinthians 8:4ff, 1 Corinthians 10:21-33 and Romans 14:13-21. And when Paul talks about eating meat, it is not about the suffering of the animals and compassion for them, but about three other things: First, a Christian must decide whether he will continue to participate in other unchristian cults in which flesh is sacrificed and eaten. Secondly, the question is what a Christian may eat in this context when he is a guest of non-Christians. And thirdly, Paul is concerned with a certain interpretation of freedom or with the fact that the Christian is no longer subject to the law of the Old Testament.
In the Epistle to the Romans Paul writes: "The one has the belief that he can eat everything, but the weak do not eat meat ... So then each one of us will account to God for himself. Therefore let us no longer judge one another, but rather let this be your decision: not to give a brother a cause for stumbling nor to lay a trap for him ... For if your brother is afflicted with food, you no longer walk according to love. Do not spoil by your food the one for whom Christ died ... It is good not to eat meat nor drink wine, nor to do anything else your brother offends against. And in the first letter to the Corinthians: "If therefore food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I do not cause my brother to stumble". (1 Corinthians 8:13)
And it is not a matter here of compassion for the animals, which he obviously does not have, but above all of food which is sacrificed in idolatry, and what effect this has on other people when one is seen as a Christian there, how one eats idol sacrifices. But today we have other problems to solve: For example, the basic ethical questions of mass animal husbandry, animal transport, mass slaughter, forced insemination, genetic manipulation, clearing of primeval forests, hunger in the Third World, increased diseases of civilization, social injustice, etc., to which Paul says nothing.
But even if Paul writes in the first letter to the Corinthians that one can eat anything offered on the meat market without any remorse (because, unlike Jesus, he lacks compassion for the animals to a large extent), it is still clear even in Paul's case that the advantage lies with the vegetarian. For according to Paul it is good to leave everything that the brother takes offence at. And because I eat vegetables and bread, no one can be "grieved". But someone can take offence at a meat meal, because animals were demonstrably inflicted with pain and killed for it. And for this other people must starve to death, because the poor lack the food and the water to raise the cattle for the meat consumption of the rich. Even from Paul's point of view it would therefore be commanded for Christians not to eat meat. The parents of the starving children in the Third World must be very "saddened" that we would rather fatten our pigs than distribute the grain harvests in such a way that something remains for their children.
But on the other hand, caution would also be in Paul's sense: namely, not to alienate the meat eaters who want to join the still young Christianity by fanaticism. Paul did not want to raise the threshold too high. So he spoke against a narrow-minded, fanatical dogmatism - in a time in which people were already living predominantly vegetarian anyway and often had trouble getting enough food at all. Therefore vegetarianism would not be a prerequisite for Christians.
But all the passages in Paul's text that people who believe in the Bible specifically use to justify the consumption of meat actually speak more against eating meat: "For if your brother is grieved because of food, you no longer walk according to love. "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, do everything to glorify God" (10:31). Yes, how? Through cruelty to animals and mass murder of animals and hunger in the Third World? Is that supposed to serve the glorification of God?
And one cannot, on the one hand, say in the Church that the Bible is above every other scripture, but then does not keep to its doctrine.
Drinking and eating feast: "He who does such a thing will not inherit the kingdom of God".
The blood of 47 billion slaughtered animals every year cries out to heaven, and those who call themselves Christians cannot simply listen away. And even if the conscience is dulled towards the animal suffering and is, as possibly also with Paul, then the Christian still notices how other people have a feeling for it and suffer with it. Moreover, denominational Christians cannot possibly say: "The people in the Old Testament, Jesus and Paul, have eaten flesh, so we do too". For even if the testimony of the Bible to the consumption of meat is not uniform, one can surely say: "As we do, with all its consequences, people in the Old Testament, Jesus and Paul, have never eaten meat, and this can be derived without doubt from all passages of the Bible. Compared to the living conditions of that time, our eating habits of today have long since fulfilled the requirements of "eating and drinking". One of our problems is how to get an epidemic overweight under control. And Paul said about this: "The works of the flesh are clearly recognizable: ... Excursive life ... Selfishness ... Drinking and eating and similar more. I have foretold you of this and once again foretold you: Whoever does this will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-22). This is clear.
And eating meat in the industrialized countries includes hunger in the Third World. Both belong together inseparably. And Paul himself said to an "enemy": "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink ... Do not let evil defeat you, but always defeat evil with good" (Romans 12:21-22). And if this already applies to the "enemy," then it does also apply to the friend and brother: "Give him food. It is only because of this sentence that Paul today would be a vegetarian, so that not so many people in the Third World suffer starvation. And such behavior is not so difficult for a person in the industrialized countries.
It is the pastors and priests who say that the realization of the peace of creation in the Kingdom of God, to which peace between man and animal belongs, is a rigorous overtaxing of man and cannot be accomplished by them. Christ must create peace when He comes again. In this way, however, priests and pastors contradict the clear teaching of Jesus, who said: "He who hears this My teaching and does it is a wise man" (Matthew 7:24). At all times pastors, priests and theologians allowed people to kill animals. That is why they bear the main blame for all this suffering and misery in the animal world, because through their Bible they would have had the better teaching, the exemplary function and the possibilities to teach people correctly.
The biblical idea of the promised peace of creation, which knows no bloodshed, lends a strong dynamic to the thinking and acting in favor of fellow creatures, also from the Protestant point of view, as described in the EKD text mentioned at the beginning. And the resulting ethics of the human-animal relationship, which we have presented here, is not utopian and unattainable. So if the pastors and priests teach otherwise, then they do so against better knowledge. (Alfred Schulte)