Friday, December 7, 2012

Animal cruelty cases on the increase: what does it mean?

"He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing." (Deuteronomy 10:18) [A sojourner was a migrant, alien, or stranger]

The bible speaks to our duty to protect the vulnerable members of society. Servants, slaves, migrant workers, economic refugees, widows, children/orphans and the poor are mentioned often in the Old and the New testaments. A society's morality is expressed through our compassion to these oft-overlooked and vulnerable segments of the population. An individual's Christianity is expressed in one way through obedience to the precepts God laid down. Such as these--

"But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God” (1 Timothy 5:4).

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin." (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)

These Christians commented about the values which in their view were expected by society and in society:

"Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members." ~Pearl S. Buck

"The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children." ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization." ~Samuel Johnson, Boswell: Life of Johnson

Because they are vulnerable, and often marginalized, these society members are often the first to be targeted for exploitation. Yet the Proverbs say

"Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed." (Proverbs 19:17)

In my opinion, one can use a society's compassion for and protection of the vulnerable as a barometer of either the stability or the dissolution of a society. I don't have any particular evidence to support my opinion except the most important evidence: God put many verses in the bible about Christian ethics and standards of behavior in society. The absence of these qualities would, to me, display the dissipation of a society.

I've said all that to bring me to my point. I've been noticing quite a few headlines reporting animal cruelty. I'd mentioned one recently, that in my rural and low crime county there have been incidents of severed dog heads places on a person's porch.

I really hate to read about puppy and kitty cruelty, so I don't. But the headlines are frequent and they are posted on a news media's front page, therefore making them hard to escape seeing.

I won't repeat the animal cruelty news headlines now, except to say that they are ghastly and troubling.

The evident rise in animal abuse is to me, a very big indicator of how society treats its vulnerable members and therefore how far they are from God. I am not saying that puppies and kitties and birds and goldfish and other pets pets are actual members of society. But as anyone knows, there is a link between sociopaths and animal cruelty cases.

"[S]tudies of the life of convicted sadistic murderers and serial murderers showed a startling proportion of those murderers had a history of animal abuse, often starting in childhood." (source). There are many other sources which report the same thing.

Sociopaths start with torture and cruelty on small and helpless animals, and then move "up" to those who they perceive as vulnerable like elders, other children, the weak or the lame. The simple fact is that people who would do these kind of things to innocent and vulnerable animals are twisted sadists who often move on to doing the same thing to vulnerable human targets. Small animal cruelty today is happening with frightening regularity. What does that fact bode for the near future?

I believe it is indicative of the breakdown of one of God's institutions of charity and protection of society's vulnerable. I think the animal abuse is rising first and faster because there are fewer civil repercussions. However, it is suggestive of the violent nature of sin that is in all of us. What will it be like when the Holy Spirit stops restraining sin? (2 Thessalonians 2:7). I can't bear to think.

As far as actual vulnerable members of any given society go, they are increasingly at risk in these sadistic days. I read that in the protests in Cairo that the Muslim Brotherhood was accused of paying gangs to rape women who attended, as a cruel intimidation ploy.

In 2008 a legal conference was held in Seattle Washington, and the Western Attorneys General who attended the panel discussion were told that human trafficking is increasing worldwide. I wonder how much more it may have increased since 2008.

In 2011 a study found that elder abuse is on the increase, too. The report begins, "A rising number of elder abuse cases threatens to overwhelm inadequately staffed adult protective service agencies in many states, according to a report released on Wednesday by the federal Government Accountability Office."

In 2008 a study was conducted in Houston Texas, and among the immigrants sampled, almost 60% said they had been the victim of a crime within the previous three years.

Migrant worker abuse in Scotland
I can't make a big statement or a final claim as to my point. I am not a sociologist. I only read the bible and I know that God wants us to be charitable toward the vulnerable, and to employ Christian ethics. When I see so many terrible tales of animal cruelty, to me it seems to be a terrible precursor to even worse coming evil against humans. I liken it to the tickle in your throat before the sinus infection comes.

In addition to the vulnerable part of the population we read about in the above verses, God does care for animals, too. He doesn't speak about it a lot in the bible, lol, certainly not as much as He does about the poor, the stranger, the widow and the child, but He does warn us about taking care of  animals.

"The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel."  (Proverbs 27:23 NLT )

"Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds," (Proverbs 27:23 NLT)

Further, God created animals. He called Adam to shepherd and manage the garden and to name all the animals. He made a provision for them during the flood. He feeds the birds of the air. (Matthew 6:26). It seems that through the Proverbs verses and the examples of how God cares for animals that He would not take kindly to sadists torturing puppies and kittens. They may not be made in His image, but they are part of His creation and He gave them the breath of life.

My main point is this-- Be kind in these last days. Kindness these days is a radical act.You read that a NY policeman went to a shoe store and bought a pair of boots for a homeless man, and then knelt to help him put them on. The photo went viral in a day. Why? Kindness is a radical act. People notice.

"So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10)

New York police officer Larry DePrimo gives a homeless man a pair of boots and socks in Times Square

2 comments:

  1. Sometimes it's just so much easier to be puffed up in our behavior toward others. But to show kindness, that takes real courage. Nice post, Elizabeth.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you anonymous! I want you to know I work at heeding my own advice. I pray daily for the Holy Spirit to enable me to be more loving to everyone. And for Him to poke me like a fallen souffle when I get puffed up. Kindness stands out when the world is getting more brutal. What a joy to show the light of Jesus in this way.

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