You knew it was coming when the 2011 NIV Bible translation announced that it was steering more towards gender neutral language. PETA, never afraid to garner more media attention by any means necessary, is asking that the NIV refer to animals as “she” or “he” instead of “it.” Sometimes the stupidity of it all just wants to make you slap yourself.
The effort to extend human rights to animals is noble but often misguided. We need to recognize that we want to be humane to animals, but that animals are not human. If animals are to be put on the same level as humans then they would need to show a little more respect such as not shitting on us as they fly overhead or mauling us while hiking or even throwing their poo at us for laughs. They should also have the ability to extend rights to other species instead of finding ingenious ways to “murder” and eat each other. Animals don’t give a damn if you refer to their correct gender as humans are not apt to know which animal is male or female anyways unless we’re referring to something like a male lion versus a female (the mane being the obvious clue). If we dehumanize animals by referring to them as “it” that is appropriate as they are NOT human. I think we’re smart enough to understand how to be humane to nonhumans without having to humanize them.
The Bible is a religious book based on ancient texts (though they are copies of copies) and the translations should reflect that–not political correctness or even modern niceties. Otherwise, this is how we get a Bible that no longer tells us what it said to people throughout history. There will be a knowledge gap between generations of Christians–one generation understanding the Bible has unpleasant references and successive generations who slowly become ignorant of the unpleasantness as the wording is changed to be friendlier and in sync with our modern morals. If there is bigotry, objectionable depictions of violence and rape, references to animal sacrifice and so forth, we do not want to sanitize it.
The CNN article quotes PETA’s vice president for policy, a practicing Roman Catholic named Bruce Friedrich who says, “Language matters. Calling an animal ‘it’ denies them something. They are beloved by God. They glorify God.”
Give me a break. Animals aren’t beloved in the Bible. They’re used to please God through ritual sacrifice. Not to mention God drowning all of them for no good reason in the Great Flood (they didn’t sin, men did). The sheer stupidity of this comment may be a result of the New Testament and not the Old. It is when Jesus says in Matthew, Chapter 6, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Which birds are Jesus referring to? Birds die all the time because they starve, they’re hunted by predators or they fly into a window and break their neck. In regards to predators, if Jesus is feeding these birds it is only to fatten them up for good eatin’ by the other predators he created. It makes you wonder if this is how the birds are thought of by Jesus then how does he really think of us? We’re more valuable then birds destined to be eaten?
How is it that a Catholic can read the Bible and ignore all of the violence done towards animals by God and in the name of God and come to the conclusion that animals are beloved by God? Animals are said not to even have souls–unless Catholics now believe they do? I found this response to that question on Catholic Answers Forums, “All living things have souls, but only angels and humans have spiritual souls. Animal and plant souls are material principles that cease to exist at death. Angels do not die, and human souls survive the death of the body.” If it doesn’t make sense to you then good for you! Because souls that are material defeat the definition of “soul” as far as I’m concerned.
Friedrich also suggests that the Bible promotes vegetarianism? You’ve got to be kidding. I’m sorry, but PETA may have good intentions but they sure attract some dumb ass people. I would love to see Bill Maher, a PETA board member and religious critic, come out and comment on this fellow PETA nut, but he may not even dare on this one.
This is extreme, but there are more moderate efforts to tie conservation and environmentalism into the Bible. This seems to come from Genesis chapter 1 which has been reinterpreted over time to be more about responsibility than man’s dominance: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
That’s all well and good if subdue means to “take care of,” but it still doesn’t mesh with most of the Old Testament. The ritual sacrifices performed throughout are pleasing to God–God likes to see his animals killed. And, I hate to be repetitive, but again, how the hell do you ignore Noah’s Flood and wiping out all of the animals except the pairs that were allowed on the ark?
This is simply one more example of modern morality being forced upon an ancient text. It does not fit.
SIDENOTE: I try to find a balance on animal rights as I believe the term “animal rights” is misleading. Animals do not have the intelligence to demand their rights or even contemplate what they would be. We are placing rights on them that we believe to be humane. There is nothing wrong with being humane, except you have to remember that nature designed us to kill and eat meat. Yes, we are omnivores in that we also eat fruits and veggies and for survival purposes we can subsist on a nonmeat diet, but it was meat that helped advance us in the evolutionary process–not a vegetarian diet. Try reading this brief article on Food Anthropology for starters if you somehow believe meat is not tied in with evolutionary progress.
Does that mean we cannot overcome biology and find a way to be vegan? Sure, there may be legitimate meat substitutes that provide everything our bodies need in the future. At that time, we’re going to have an interesting problem–what to do with all of our domesticated animals?