Is euthanasia ethical for animals? Why not for people? Beloved pets may seem so much like us that our affection for them can cause confusion as they wind down towards death. Never let the resemblances deceive you! In making us from dust the Lord "breathed" His breath into Adam's nostrils, refashioning Adam-the-animal into a "living being." That "neshuma" is what makes us radically different from animals. What does it speak of?
Among other things we have an absolutely one-of-a-kind rank in the created order. Who we are in God's eyes really matters! Ponder just these three points:
1) The Lord formed men and women in His image. Our pets reflect features of His character--His "personality" is etched upon His whole creation--but only we bear His Image.
2) God granted us preeminence over the animals and made us overseers of the whole creation--as a result, we are appropriately referred to as the crown (ruler) of creation. This isn't species cockiness; it is a God-mandated Reality.
3) Jesus was crucified for individuals, not animals. This shows the underlying, unequaled importance of our lives to the Lord and also discloses that we are the root of all that is not right on earth. Additionally we see by this that we are qualitatively distinct, even if part of that difference is our fallen state!
Gathering this together, we perceive as Christians that human beings live the entirety of their lives in a process of being reclaimed back into the intimate relationship with God that ended up being lost to us. Due to this fact, the approaching end of a man or woman's life is profoundly vital as a chance for them to grow spiritually into a relationship with God if they don't have one--by calling on His name under the discomfort of illness and approaching death. It also allows those who already know Him an opportunity to come closer, to let go of more of what they have withheld from Him, to open themselves wider to receive more of His life and love under these same unwanted conditions.
Mercy killing is an atrocious idea for human beings, because it robs God as well as the ones encountering death of the hope of a redemptive advance through their struggles. For some people this could certainly mean the difference between eternity in heaven or hell. As a priest I have seen unbelievers eventually open to God only on their deathbed and believers only "make their peace" with Him as death approached. Our suffering always holds the possibility of growing spiritually.
On the other hand, with animals it is incredibly different. They are not fallen creatures as we are and for that reason they live the entirely of their lives linked up to God by the Holy Spirit in ways that He preserves. There is obviously no need for them to be morally purified and consequently suffering for animals has no redemptive benefit at any moment. Spiritual growth is as inaccessible for them as it is irrelevant.
For us to extend the anguish of an animal that can not be brought back to a healthy, misery-free physical life is to beg the question, who are we doing this for? For the animal, or for us? To mitigate the emotional distress we may feel over the death of a pet by unjustifiably extending their pain is a selfish choice on our part. Best to fearlessly deal with the loss and learn to grieve well.
This is why euthanasia is a blessing for relieving the suffering of animals as they draw near to the end. How much suffering warrants it? Pray to the Lord and let Him lead, but let's make certain it is for the animal's sake that we are asking the question.
Steve Evans helps people gain peace through their spiritual life
. Desire to understand more about emotional restoration? The essential lessons from his popular course, Matters of the Heart, are free online. Begin now and pick up your free copy of his insightful ebook, An Illustrated Guide to the Spiritual Life