Animal Rescue: Theological Anthropology and Man’s Stewardship of Animals and the Environment

Humans hold a unique and privileged position in Creation, but that position is imbued with the responsibility of stewardship and is therefore not an excuse for the mistreatment of animals or the environment. I will argue that the Torah presents humans as stewards of creation, including the responsible use of (for food, clothing, and labor) and care for animals and the environment, but explicitly excluding the exploitive abuse of animals or their habitats. I will do this by demonstrating how the pre-fall stewardship mandate of Genesis is seen as still in effect after the fall and flood, by the way the Noah was told to rescue animals, the covenant God made with “all living creatures” (Gen 9), and the way the Israelites were instructed in the Torah to treat animals and the environment. This stewardship is celebrated in the Psalms; it is reiterated in the Prophets as a picture of God’s design for symbiotic co-existence in an ecotopia (e.g. Isaiah 11); and it is assumed in Christ’s teachings (“which of you would leave an ox in a ditch on the Sabbath?”) and Paul’s letters (“unequally yoked” and “do not muzzle the ox”).

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