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What Does the Bible say about Selling Dogs?

What Does the Bible say about Selling Dogs?

Selling animals is a time-honored activity spanning many cultures.

So why is selling dogs raising controversy?

 It’s because some people believe in giving their dogs away for free—and expect others to do likewise if they are true bible believers.

 (They would also never buy a dog but receive them for free!).

 That’s because they believe that selling dogs is forbidden by some bible rules.

This is based on a particular interpretation of the bible scripture that some people may have missed.

 So, potentially millions of bible-believing dog sellers could be breaking a bible command and offending their God without their knowledge!

Should they be alarmed or is this a hue and cry over nothing?

Is the violation real or based on some urban legend?  

Let’s investigate…

Does Selling Dogs Conflict With Tithing Obligations Toward God?

To see why this issue can cause consternation, we need to go back to Old Testament times and look at rules on offerings or payments made to God such as vows or tithes.

A tithe was expected from all Israelites by law. This tithe was a tenth part of their resources or income which was given to God.

Of course, for the tithe to be acceptable, it has to come from legitimate sources.

For example, you can’t pay your tithe from the proceeds of theft, extortion, or other questionable sources.  

This rule was still in place in the New Testament. For example, the book of Matthew gives an account of Judas Iscariot becoming remorseful after Jesus had been condemned to death.

He tried to return the betrayal money of 30 pieces of silver to the religious leaders (chief priests and elders) who had earlier given them to him. They did not take kindly to the gesture. 

Matthew 27:4: “I have sinned,” (Judas) said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” (the chief priests) replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.”

This shows that illicit money (in this case earned by Judas for aiding the killing of Jesus) could not be accepted into the temple treasury.

So, what is the link between this principle and the objection to selling dogs? 

The Bible Verse on Dog Selling

Bible Verses about Dogs in Heaven

The bible verse that supposedly forbids the buying and selling of dogs is found in Deuteronomy 23:18:

“You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God” (English Standard Version)

This verse shows that the fees of a shrine prostitute (income earned by prostitution) and the wages of a dog (income supposedly earned by selling dogs) are both illicit ways of paying the tithe or other vows of God.

This has the effect of putting the selling of dogs in the same category as shrine prostitution.

Shrine or cult prostitution was an immoral practice that was particularly offensive to God. 

If selling dogs is illicit then any money drawn from its income is unacceptable as tithe.

However, this understanding comes from a misconception about what is meant by the wages of a dog. 

What Does “the Wages of a Dog” mean?  

Confusion surrounds what is meant by a dog.

Other translations or versions of the Deuteronomy 23:18 may help to clear this confusion.

For example, the New International Version states:

“You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow because the LORD your God detests them both.”

This version translates “the wages of a dog” as “the earnings of a male prostitute”  making them equivalent.

Therefore, a dog here is not a literal dog but is another way of referring to a male prostitute. 

We can be more certain of this because of verse 17 which immediately precedes Deuteronomy 23:18.

It clearly states that the specific target of the quote is people engaging in sexual sins of both male and female gender.

Here is verse 17 from 3 different bible versions:

  • No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute. (NIV)
  • There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel (King James Version)
  • None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. (English Standard Version)

A similar meaning for a dog has been used elsewhere in the bible causing similar confusion.

For example, Revelation 22:15 states:

 “But outside (the New Jerusalem) are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

This verse lists the kind of people who will be excluded from entering the New Jerusalem since they are unrepentant and are thus deemed to be unrighteous and unworthy to enter the city.

The inclusion of dogs in the blacklist has been misunderstood to mean that it is literal dogs that will be prevented along with sorcerers and sexually immoral from entering the city.

However, it refers to male shrine prostitutes.

Shrine prostitution by both men and women was one of the most abominable practices by the idolatrous nations surrounding Israel in Old Testament times.

It involved men or women engaging professionally in temple sex as a religious ritual for which they received payment.

The practice was also present in New Testament times.

For example, Strabo (63 BC-24 AD) describes 1000 cult prostitutes serving in temple brothels in Corinth before the goddess Aphrodite.  

Closing Thoughts

The selling of dogs has caused undue consternation to many folks who are anxious about maintaining the purity of their faith in God.

However, it seems that their conscience has been unduly disturbed since it’s a simple matter of language that has led to a misunderstanding. 

With this clarity, perhaps they should be hugely relieved and go back to selling all the dogs they wish without fear of running afoul of their faith. 

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