I RECENTLY SAW A SIGN HANGING in front of a pet supply store. “PETS ARE PEOPLE TOO.” It’s a “nice” sentiment. We all love our pets. They deserve good treatment, so let’s relate to them like people. 

But underneath this slogan is a sinister change in assumptions about humanity, a change which threatens our personal freedoms, and it is unlikely that the owner of this pet store, like many Americans, has thought through the implications of this statement.

Made In God’s Image

Pets are not people. Although we share many biological similarities, there is a vast gulf between the ontology of animals and humans. The Bible makes this clear. On the sixth and last day of creation, after he created animal life, God created the first man and woman. 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. 

Genesis 1:26-28 italics mine

This text tells us twice that God created humanity, male and female, in his image and likeness. Nowhere does the Bible say this about any other form of biological life—only humanity. It also tells us twice that God gave mankind dominion over the animal kingdom. This means that human life is sacred. It is unique—different from animals. It means that the animals are not people. It means that all human life—the aged, the embryo, the developmentally delayed, the ugly, the poor, or the foreigner—is sacred. Their rights come from God, not government. This was ground zero for the author of the Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. He was a deist, not a Christian, but he was an avid reader of the Bible. In fact, he developed his own version, The Jefferson Bible, with all the miracles removed. Although he rejected the biblical Savior and his salvation, he approved of biblical morality. 

The influence of the Bible on Jefferson is important because many think the Declaration of Independence is a strictly secular document. However, the philosophy of John Locke, the son of a Puritan, and the Bible were the main influences on its author. Jefferson understood the biblical teaching that God made humanity in his image. On that basis he wrote these crucial words. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are create equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the goverened,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abollish it, and to institute new Government…

Jefferson and our founding fathers were clear about human rights. They are “unalienable.” That means they come from our Creator not the government. Each human being, therefore, is sacred and should be left free to pursue “life, liberty,” and personal “happiness.”

The idea that our rights come from our Creator and are “unalienable” is rooted in the Bible and natural law. “We hold these truths to be self-evident” is a nod to natural law. And from the Bible Jefferson got the idea that man is the crown of God’s creation—different from the animals. He has rights that are unalienable. They are “unalienable” because they come from God himself. Government does not give them. Therefore, government cannot take them away. 

Civil Rights

After the adoption of our Constitution, and based on these assumptions, our forefathers amended the Constitution with a Bill of Rights. The most important amendments are the first and second. 

Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Diminishing Rights

Today these two amendments are under severe and sustained attack. Why? A growing segment of our population now rejects the assumptions about humanity that produced these rights—that God created people in his image and likeness, that human life is therefore sacred, and that these rights are, therefore “self-evident” and “unalienable.” 

This is why it is so important that we resist animal rights activists and their diabolical teaching that there are no inherent differences between people and animal life. If not, our rights are alienable and can be easily removed by the government. 

It is also why the fight for abortion is so important. The simple truth that all human life is sacred and therefore enjoys “unalienable” rights is the ground of our resistance. If we lose the abortion battle, we also lose the sanctity of human life. If we lose the sanctity of human life it will only be a matter of time before the Deep State, headquartered in the Washington D.C. Swamp, removes all rights which they perceive to be alienable.

Civil Disobedience? 

You will notice that the founding fathers were clear on the purpose of government. It exists to preserve these rights. Once it ceases to do this, we have a duty to resist, with force if necessary. 

Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government. 

That was Jefferson’s rationale for the American Revolution. Since it is the purpose of the government to recognize and preserve these rights, Christians should resist any government that tries to remove them. Are we prepared for this? It might mean civil disobedience, or even violence. 

Romans 13 also assumes the possibility of civil disobedience.

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.  

Romans 13:3-5, italics mine

The  first instinct of every Christian should be submission to and cooperation with all legitimate forms of civil authority. However, we need to make two clarifying exceptions. 

First, Romans 13 assumes the existence of a king or Caesar, but we don’t have a king. We have a constitution. We live under the rule of law not the rule of kings. When the authorities no longer follow that constitution, we are duty bound to resist—peacefully if possible—to restore the rule of law, i.e. the constitution. 

Second, this text presumes that the duty of rulers is the good of those they rule. Government is “God’s servant for good…an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” When this is no longer the case, the text also implies that the ruled may resist tyranny. This should be a last resort, after we have exhausted all other means, and resistance should be done reluctantly. 

This interpretation began with John Calvin (d. 1564). It matured under his disciple, John Knox (d. 1572), and ripened under the experience of the English Puritan Fathers (1650s). Based on the thinking of these men, our founding fathers later rebelled against King George (1776).[1]  

In conclusion, if Pets are not people too, we are in big trouble. If abortion continues to destroy the concept of the sanctity of human life, we are in big trouble. In the words of our Master, God’s people need to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). That means understanding the connection between the sanctity of human life and our civil rights. It means knowing when to peacefully submit and when to actively resist.

May God give us his wisdom to know when to do which. 

[1] See Douglas Kelly, The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World; Glen Sunshine, Leviathan; John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life; Wayne Grudem, Christian Ethics