Is America’s Growing Pet-centrism a Form of Idolatry?
Would you pay 25-thousand dollars to save your pet? Two years ago, Mike Otworth did. The Florida man’s 10-year-old Chow was diagnosed with Lymphoma. So, Otworth shelled out thousands for chemotherapy – and then drove the dog to North Carolina where she received a bone marrow transplant!
In a world where about 925-million people go hungry, it’s unfathomable to me that someone would go to such lengths to save a pet. Yet, extravagant spending on pets has become increasingly common. In just the past six years, U.S. consumer spending on veterinary care has increased from just over nine billion dollars a year to a whopping 13-and-a-half billion! Add in food and other pet products, and we Americans spend 51-billion dollars a year on our animal companions! But, it gets worse.
Last year, the Associated Press and Petside polled about one-thousand pet owners asking who they’d dump first – their significant other or their pet? A surprising 14-percent said they’d dump their human partner before they’d ever give up their furry – or perhaps feathered – friend.
This misplaced priority isn’t confined to pets, though. Every year, the Humane Society of the United States spends more than 120-million dollars promoting its animal welfare agenda. This includes encouraging churches to start animal protection ministries and lobbying legislators to enact laws requiring bigger cages for chickens. Don’t get me wrong. I love animals – and own two dogs from a rescue shelter. But I don’t support assigning them worth and priority they simply shouldn’t have.
Yet, this is what results when society – and some Christians – forget the unique place humans have in the world. Animals are not our “brothers and sisters,” as one church denomination’s “Official Statement on Animals” declares; they are creatures without a soul and devoid of God’s image. Yes, we should care for them. But, when they begin to trump human relationships and consume large proportions of our time and resources, they’ve likely become idols.
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