May a Christian have a pet? This was the simple question posed as an example case of how to make more controversial and difficult decisions on Christian practises. The same Biblical method exists for all matters – be the humorously simplistic, or sensitively complicated.
So, may a Christian have a pet? Must a Christian have a pet? Is having a pet perhaps a pagan practise to be shunned by Christians?
First, do the Scriptures say anything directly about the issue?
Psalm 37:27 “Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.”
If having a pet is clearly commanded, all must obey. If having a pet is clearly prohibited, all must abstain.
But, having a pet is neither commanded, nor prohibited, in Scripture.
Second, do the Scriptures say anything indirectly about the issue?
Ecclesiastes 8:5-6a “the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way”
Are there principles in Scripture, perhaps examples or proverbs that would shed light on the matter of having an animal as a pet for a human?
Although Proverbs 12:10 does promote or discourage having a pet, it does say to be kind toward animals. Genesis 1 indicates that we to rule over the animals, so again, although no clear statement on having a pet is mentioned, we do know not to be ruled by a pet. Furthermore, countless examples of people having domesticated animals can be found in Scripture without any of them being a good example to follow or a bad example to avoid. Then again, the domesticated animals were for economical, commute, war or sacrifice purposes, not exactly the idea of a pet as the original question was intended.
In other words, some principles on human-animal interaction exist in Scripture, but none answer the question of a Christian having, or not having, a pet.
So, third, what would you like most?
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 “there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good … and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.”
This can go either way. Option 1: I like pets, it is not sinful or particularly righteous, it is not wise or foolish (unless I cannot give the right level of care), and I like pets, so Yes, God wants me to enjoy the animals He created and put within my reach.
Option 2: I dislike pets, it is not sinful or particularly righteous, it is not wise or foolish (unless I cannot give the right level of care), and I dislike pets, so Yes God wants me not to be burdened by one.
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”