“… and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator …” – Romans 1:25
It can be a good thing for children to have pets. They can learn responsibility in caring for them. They can learn compassion as they think about the pet being hungry, thirsty, or in the cold. However, when a pet becomes more important than children or others, aren’t we bordering on worshiping an idol? It isn’t carved in wood or stone, but nevertheless is perhaps taking our time, money, and attention to the exclusion of what is more important. There are some who openly refer to their pets as their children and themselves as the parent of the pet.
Have we forgotten that the Bible tells us that children are a gift from God? Have we forgotten who made the pets for us to enjoy? Have we misplaced the priority of our children with the priority of a pet?
Recently at a book signing, I observed a mother with three children and a dog on a leash. Her five-year-old continued to whine that she was hungry. The mother was paying more attention to the dog than to the child. Finally, the mother began yelling at the child. I had to wonder if the child was feeling that the mother cared more for the dog than for her.
While taking a lady home from GED class one night, she related to me that she had spent $100 that day when she took her dog to the vet because it had drunk anti-freeze. She couldn’t afford a car for her family, but the dog was being cared for. We talked briefly about how much dog food cost, but she made it clear that she felt her dog was a priority.
When I was in college, it was a privilege to hear Billy Graham speak at a World Mission Conference in Nashville. He related that the amount of money spent on pets in our country could go a great distance in feeding a third world country. That was in the 50’s. I’m sure much more is being spent now.
It is easy to say that we love our children, but our actions prove the extent of that love. A child should never have to wonder about whether a parent, or grandparent, loves an animal more than their son or daughter. The characteristics of love, as described in I Corinthians 13, clearly serve as a way to check on how much we love our children. Are we patient, kind, not rude, gentle, and long-suffering with our children?
Perhaps we each should take time to check on our priorities. The Bible tells us to “Seek first the kingdom of God”. Are we keeping our pets in their proper place? Are we understanding the responsibilities we have to “Train up a child in the way he should go”? A neglected child is left to its own whims. Those whims usually consist of a lust for self-pleasure. When we don’t give proper time and attention to children, they are left to the mercy of our society.