… and yet, the topic has, and continues to be debated.
When our beloved dog, Sophie died, I felt the need to clarify the question.
It turned out to be much more complex than I first thought; it was not a straight yes or no answer but a winding road which could have taken me just about anywhere and as God has given us the freedom to choose, I, as you, could reach a conclusion that fits the needs of our souls.
I’m Christian, and my main concern was,
What does the Bible say about animals and heaven? Could I have the hope to reunite with my dogs? How about the cats? My beloved African Grey parrot?
I was told that the Bible says animals don’t go to heaven because they have no souls. Well… I really wanted to read exactly where in the Bible it clearly states that animals don’t go to heaven!
I could not find a specific verse or line in the Bible to state that ( of course, I’m not a scholar and if any of the readers could find such specific information, please DO NOT share) because I chose to trust in the parts of the Bible which give us the hope that we will see our pets again. Here are some:
Psalm 104, verses 14 and 27-30, or Isaiah, 11: 1-19. “Christ will bring a time of peace for both men and animals.”
Among the many articles I read to write this post, there was a particularly interesting article, “Do Pets Go To Heaven” by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed. (www.pet-loss.net/heaven) It is clear that animals are included in creation but unclear whether they are newly created or reborn.
There is also the key question of redemption. The Bible states redemption is necessary for humans, who are “fallen.” They have free will and the ability to choose between good and evil. Animals never fell, so for them redemption is really not necessary!
Hmm…researching this topic was getting really convoluted… I thought of stopping, but I was really curious what else I might “discover?”
There came to a surprise when the old saying, ” follow the money,” seemed to be indirectly connected to the topic of animals in heaven!
If animals have souls, that would change the way we look and treat them. That in turn, could affect eating habits and as a result, the meat industry.
Digging deeper into the topic, I learned that along the years, various popes had different opinions on the question of animals in heaven.
For instance, Pope Pius supported the conservative Catholic theology according to which animals don’t have consciousnesses and no souls. As a result they have no after life!
Thank God, Pope John Paul II reversed Pope Pius’ decree, and the current beloved pope, Pope Francis, who took his name after Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron of animals, says, “Paradise is open to all God’s creatures!” (www.nytimes.com The article, “Dogs in Heaven? Pope Francis Leaves Pearly Gates Open,” by Rick Gladstone.)
It is customary for many churches, both Catholic and Protestant, to hold ceremonies blessing animals. It is not at random that such ceremonies are held on October 4th, which is the “feast day” -assigned Saint day- of St. Francis)
The more I read about what the Bible says, or more accurately does not say, the more complex it seemed!
I was aware that I have only touched the surface of the debate concerning reuniting with our beloved pets in Heaven, but it was clear to me that we are all God’s creatures and I believe in a loving God who opens his arms to all creatures.
However, to reunite with our pets, who offered us unconditional love, we, the humans, must be deserving of Heaven!