Mom, Do Dogs Go to Heaven?
By Sylvia Cochran
The death of a pet is a trying time in the best of circumstances; when dealing with the grief of a child, it becomes much more difficult.
Grieving through the holidays may open up the doors to a spiritual discussion surrounding the death of the pet; dealing with grief during other times may prompt you to talk about the famous Rainbow Bridge. Yet at the end of the day, the Christian parent must answer: Do dogs go to heaven?
Fact: The Bible is Silent
Mom will look in vain for a scripture that proves – once and for all – that pets go to heaven. Since human beings routinely use animals as food sources, it might be odd to consider that numerous cows and pigs have had to die for our sustenance. That said, for a child – and for plenty of adults – there is a marked difference between these animal deaths and the death of a pet, which is beloved by all family members.
Fact: There is Hope
Ecclesiastes 3:21 casts doubt on the words of those who are quick to answer. This makes dealing with grief just a bit easier; it is impossible to unequivocally state that dogs do not go to heaven. King Solomon points out that only God knows the answer to this question.
Quandary: Do Animals have Souls?
On both sides of the discussion, theologians have parsed words down to the meanings of “breath” and “spirit.” They agree that animals and humans were given the breath of life, which transformed them from figures made of dust to living, breathing creatures. Yet only humans have been given the spirit, which seeks out a relationship with God.
Or have they? Since dogs and cats cannot speak, it is impossible to know if they have been imbued with a God-seeking spirit. On the other hand, if you consider the acts of loyalty, unconditional love and even of grief that animals show toward their human caretakers, it is difficult to insist that these creatures lack a soul or spirit.
So, Mom, do Dogs go to Heaven?
The death of a pet will bring probing questions from your children. If you are a Christian, grieving a pet may be a bit easier, if the children can visualize the dog or cat as being happy, healthy and whole in heaven. Yet you, as a Christian parent, may find yourself at odds with the teachings and Biblical interpretations espoused by your faith community.
While I cannot offer you a 100 percent affirmative answer that animals will go to heaven, there is nobody who can give you a 100 percent negative rebuttal, if you choose to believe that Rover or Fluffy are with God. After all, nobody knows what heaven really looks like. This truth, and the fact that the Bible is silent on the issue of pet souls in heaven, opens up the opportunity for each believer to develop a personal conviction.
I have chosen to believe that animals do go to heaven. I believe that Colossians 1:15-20 very clearly illustrates that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross reconciles all of creation – not just human beings – with the godhead. To me, this includes animals. You may choose to believe differently. Until we both get to heaven, neither one of us will know for sure.
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