Questions From Readers
● Is it wrong to take the life of an old or sick pet?
No, for the Bible shows that humans have the authority and responsibility to decide if, when and how to end an animal’s life.
In saying this we definitely are not encouraging callousness or cruelty toward animals. Sad to say, human history right up till the present is filled with examples of vicious cruelty toward animals. That accords with the pattern set by brutal Nimrod. But it is not the pattern set by the God of love, mercy and compassion. (Gen. 10:9) God’s Word specifically advises His worshipers to care for animals, to avoid being cruel to them.—Prov. 12:10.
We cannot ignore, however, the fact that Jehovah God gave humans dominion over the animals. (Gen. 1:26-28) Later he granted mankind permission to kill animals for food. And Bible examples show that animals may be killed for other reasons, including protection or to obtain material for clothing.* (Gen. 3:21; 9:3-5; Judg. 14:5, 6; Heb. 11:37) The Bible does not give rules on how such animals were to be killed. Yet, where possible to do so the manner logically should be in accord with what the Scriptures say about mercy and about avoiding needless cruelty to animals.
Whereas in Biblical times animals were mainly viewed from a utilitarian viewpoint, many persons today keep animals for pets. This often seems to involve a desire for companionship. Many persons develop strong emotional ties with their pet. So it may bring emotional pain to think of taking the life of a pet that has become very old, somewhat enfeebled or perhaps sick.
But the fact is that the Bible does not say that it is wrong to put such a pet to death. A person may even conclude that doing so in a quick and relatively painless manner is better than providing the animal with expensive treatment that merely prolongs its suffering. The individual who is responsible for the animal, who is exercising dominion over it, is the person to determine if and how it is best to terminate its life.
● Why did Jesus say, in John 16:5: “Not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’” when Peter and Thomas had just done so?
The comments in mind had all occurred on the last night that Jesus was with his disciples. During the evening Peter asked: “Lord, where are you going?” (John 13:36) A little later Thomas said: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How do we know the way?” (John 14:5) So it might seem a bit contradictory to read, in John 16:5, Jesus’ statement: “Not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’”
It appears, however, that Jesus had a particular point in mind. The context of Peter’s question suggests that Peter was manifesting considerable self-concern in what he asked Jesus, and Thomas’ remark may have reflected his uncertainty about the disciples having adequate guidance. After their questions, however, the account goes on to include Jesus’ warning words about coming persecution. As John 16:6 reveals, those remarks evidently troubled the disciples and caused them to be absorbed with their own grief over that persecution and their losing Jesus. So when Jesus said: “Not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’” he was evidently not referring back to Peter’s comment or Thomas’ remark. Speaking in the present tense (“asks me”), he was referring to their reaction at that particular point in his discussion and the things he was then considering. Jesus’ words thus would focus attention on the fact that the disciples, absorbed with their own grief, were not inquiring further of Jesus to find out about the glory to which he was going, what it would mean for true worshipers and how it fitted into the outworking of God’s purpose.
See “Keep a Balanced View of Animal Life” in Awake! of March 22, 1976.