May a Christian have a pet? This was the simple question posed as an case-study of how to think about the more controversial and difficult grey issues of life. The same Biblical method exists for all matters—be it the humorously simplistic, or the sensitively complicated of Christian living concerns.
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?
Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever.Psalm 37:27
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?
the wise heart will know the proper time and the just wayEcclesiastes 8:5
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 not promote or discourage having a pet, it does say to be kind toward animals. Genesis 1 indicates that we are 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 still, none answer the question of a Christian having, or not having, a pet.
So, third, what would you like most?
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.Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
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 it the right level of care), and I like pets, so Yes, God wants me to enjoy the animals He created and put within my ability to rule over and enjoy.
Option 2: I dislike pets, it is not sinful or particularly righteous, it is not wise or foolish (unless I cannot give it the right level of care), and I dislike pets, so Yes, God wants me not to be burdened by one.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31
This might be a someone simplistic example, but it helps clarify how we deal with the ethical issues of life. Nothing God has commanded, or prohibited, will every contradict each other or make us choose between them. We can hold all things in firm Biblical perspective when we follow Scripture’s principles in navigating the issues of life. May the Lord be glorified in all that we do!