Questions From Readers
● Is it proper for a Christian to have a pet sterilized or to have it “put to sleep”?—U.S.A.
There are no specific statements in the Holy Scriptures that rule out a Christian’s sterilizing or taking the life of an animal.
According to the Mosaic law, a castrated animal was unfit for sacrifice. It stated: “[An animal] having the testicles squeezed or crushed or pulled off or cut off you must not present to Jehovah, and in your land you should not render them up.” (Lev. 22:24) This law did not specifically prohibit castration, but it evidently did cause the Israelites to refrain from this practice.
Christians, however, do not offer animal sacrifices; they are not under the Mosaic law. (Rom. 6:14) Hence the command at Leviticus 22:24 would not prohibit them from sterilizing a pet. There are other factors that govern a Christian’s decision regarding what he might do to or for his animals.
The Bible shows that Jehovah God gave man dominion over the animal creation. (Gen. 1:28) He may, therefore, use animals for food and clothing. He may also kill animals that are definitely injurious to his welfare. (Gen. 3:21; 9:3; Ex. 21:28, 29; 1 Sam. 17:34, 35) Man’s rightful interests and welfare always take precedence.
So a Christian has the right to determine what he considers best respecting his animals, including pets. He can decide whether it would be in his or his family’s best interests to have a pet sterilized or “put to sleep.” He, of course, should recognize that a Christian does not cruelly mistreat animals. Proverbs 12:10 says: “The righteous one is caring for the soul of his domestic animal, but the mercies of the wicked ones are cruel.” The person who is brutal with his animals, causing them needless suffering, shows disregard for God’s creation; what he considers ‘merciful treatment’ is actually “cruel.” The Christian, on the other hand, appreciates the needs of his animals and has feelings for their welfare. In the case of an animal that is suffering from serious disease or injury, or that cannot be properly cared for without imposing undesirable burdens, he may feel that it would be the wise and merciful course to put it to death. The Christian is responsible to make his own decision in this regard.
● What does 2 Corinthians 6:7 mean when it refers to “weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left”?—U.S.A.
Second Corinthians 6:7 is part of a discussion about how the apostle Paul and his fellow workers recommended themselves as God’s ministers. One of the ways they did so was “through the weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” This may allude to the fact that anciently the right hand was used to wield the sword and the left hand to hold the shield. In any event, assaulted from all sides, Paul and his associates were fully armed to wage spiritual warfare.
This spiritual warfare is described at 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” So that the Christian congregation at Corinth would not be led away from faithful devotion to Christ, Paul waged this spiritual warfare against false teachers and “superfine apostles.”—2 Cor. 10:8-10; 11:12-14; 12:11.
As to the flesh, Paul and his fellow workers were imperfect men, with sinful inclinations. But they did not resort to weapons of the fallen flesh—cunning, deceit or trickery. (2 Cor. 11:3, 13; 12:16) They did not rely on human ability, wisdom and power. By avoiding extravagance of speech or display of human wisdom and its power to persuade, they could help others to build up faith through God’s spirit and power. (1 Cor. 2:2-5) The chief weapon for overturning wrong reasonings was God’s “word” or ‘message.’—Heb. 4:12; Titus 1:9.
Deep love and concern for others prompted them to wage spiritual warfare. Their motivations were in no way fleshly. They did not seek honor, riches or influence. As Paul told the Corinthians: “If we have sown spiritual things to you, is it something great if we shall reap things for the flesh from you? If other men partake of this authority over you, do we not much more so? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this authority, but we are bearing all things, in order that we might not offer any hindrance to the good news about the Christ.” (1 Cor. 9:11, 12) “We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one.”—2 Cor. 7:2.
Thus it can be seen that the “weapons” Paul used were righteous or just means for furthering the cause of true worship against all assaults.