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For many American households today, owning a dog is fashionable.
Even every sitting president proudly boasts a dog in the White House.
But dog ownership has a long history of controversy.
The reasons range from cultural revulsion to religious objections.
In the bible, scholars are divided on the spiritual merits of dog ownership.
Does this practice infringe on the Christian faith and is it in line with God’s kingdom?
Purpose of Dog Ownership
Animals in general can be owned by people to cater to various needs.
We need to look at where a dog fits into this to see why it may be considered sinful.
There are basically four reasons for us to own domestic animals.
While it may be acceptable to keep an animal for some of these reasons, it may not be for others.
- Food: In biblical times, keeping dogs for food was out of the question since dogs were listed among the unclean animals.
- Animal Sacrifices: For the same reason that dogs could not be eaten (being unclean), they were also unfit to be offered as animal sacrifices.
- Labor or Work: This may have been acceptable but the bible rarely mentions dogs performing this role.
- Pets or Recreational Companionship: This is also hardly mentioned with regard to dogs. However, a lamb has been mentioned as a pet such as in the parable of the rich man who unjustly took away a poor man’s beloved lamb for a banquet he prepared for his guests.
Is a Dog’s Company Evil?
If you kept a dog as a pet, it would literally become your companion.
The Bible cautions against keeping company with people of evil character.
So, is the dog one of these?
Many bible verses seem to imply that dogs were associated with evil.
For example, Psalm 22:16 say: ‘Like a pack of dogs, they have surrounded me. A company of evildoers has encircled me’
This verse seems to equate dogs to evildoers.
Dogs have also frequently been mentioned alongside other undesirables like murderers, worthless people, deceivers, and deceitful religious leaders who prey on innocent people.
For all these reasons, there is revulsion for dogs which can only be compared to pigs, another object of loath.
The only positive role of dogs was for cleaning up the mess, such as scavengers clearing away rotting carcasses or agents who lick up the blood of slain people.
However, for most of these negative roles, dogs were possibly being used only in a symbolic sense.
There are other more compelling biblical reasons against owning dogs as pets, in the literal sense.
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Dogs Can Rob You of Time Devoted To God
Depending on how you relate with your dog, time and resources spent with your dog can compete directly with that spent in prayer, Bible study, or worship.
This is a spiritual snare that can endanger your spiritual life.
God demands first devotion from us and can never accept second place in our hearts.
This is why Jesus says “if anyone loves his father or mother more than he loves me; he is not worth being my disciple.”
If your family member can’t take first place in your heart, it’s even less so for your dog no matter how cute it is.
One of the greatest principles of Christian virtue is to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Under this rule, your neighbors’ well-being comes first.
If owning a dog creates a menace to the neighborhood, it will infringe on your Christian duty.
This can happen if your dog has an overly aggressive personality and tends to attack or harm people.
It will be aggravated if you can’t control or take good care of your dog.
In such cases, it is better to give up dog ownership in order to mind your neighbor’s interests.
Dogs Have Practical Benefits for Humans
Despite dogs having these negative spiritual effects, they can also be empowering and supportive in various ways.
God created us with limited abilities compared with animals when it comes to things like sight, scent and physical speed or strength.
Since other animals can provide what we lack, we can conclude that God intended them to be owned to provide such roles.
Therefore, it is legitimate to own dogs to help us in roles such as emotional dogs, service dogs guide dogs, or search and rescue missions dogs.
Stewardship Role at the Creation
Pet ownership is an example of the responsibility which God vested in us at the creation.
In Genesis, God commands people to subdue and rule over the animals, and Adam and Eve were given the Garden of Eden to lovingly tend and cultivate.
Dog ownership is another way of fulfilling this responsibility.
Dogs Can Enhance Our Relationship with God
By owning dogs, we have a rare chance to learn great spiritual lessons. These can make us solidify our ties with God.
For example, we can learn godly traits such as, being tolerant, overcoming fear with love, patience, and faithfulness from dogs.
These are God-given qualities that can teach us how to relate better with other people.
For example, dogs show no discrimination whether dealing with kids or adults or regardless of one’s intelligence, sophistication, or race.
Their unquestioning trust also challenges us to be more trusting of God.
God Can Use Dogs as Spiritual Messengers
God can make lower animals see things that we can’t in the spiritual realm.
For example, in the incident of Balaam’s donkey, the donkey that Balaam was riding could see an angel blocking its way which Balaam couldn’t.
In the same way, God can use your dog to communicate spiritual messages that you can’t discern.
You may also want to check: Is it a Sin to Kill a Dog?
Dogs have been vilified and extolled in almost equal measure.
This mixed bag has left its reputation lying in tatters.
Despite this, the dog has made a positive impression in our times as we have come to learn better how it can help our spiritual growth.
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Sable McNeil is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.