Do Pets Go to Heaven?

At the end of each year of adult Christian education, I like to offer an "FAQs of Faith" invitation to students in my classes and the wider congregation. This allows people to ask me any question regarding faith, spirituality, theology, the Bible, personal investment strategies, and new techniques in male grooming.

I lied about those last two. But the rest are real. And over the last several years this has led to some lively discussion. Click on the "FAQ" link on the right margin to see for yourself! Today, I've been working on Round 4 and I like the questions! If you're reading this, you can submit your question by simply clicking on the "Comments" button below or if you're at First Pres, go to the Welcome Table in the Narthex and there are blue cards and an "FAQs" box there to stick the cards in once you've filled them out. You don't need to submit your name. I know who you are.

Anyway, for your reading pleasure, here's the lead-off question this year: "Do pets go to heaven?" Sure, smile all you want to--but you know you've asked this question, haven't you? If you've got pets and kids at home, better be prepared, because this question is coming to you faster than you can say "floating goldfish." Read on, blog peruser!

1. Do pets go to heaven?

This is such a great question! All of us who’ve ever owned pets and watched them die have asked this (or have had to respond to a child who has asked this). We humans love our pets (I know I love our Golden Retriever Hannah!). They become so much a part of our lives they’re like people, almost like dear friends and relatives.

While the Bible doesn’t address this question directly, it suggests a few things that may be helpful. For one thing, we can affirm that all God’s creation was originally deemed “good” by God (Genesis 1). This would include the animal world, both wild and later domestic animals (Genesis 1:25). As parts of God’s good creation now corrupted by sin and death, animals may well be part of God’s redemption as well. Here’s what I mean: God is in the business of redeeming and restoring all things, of renewing the originally good creation. “See, I am making all things new” God says in Revelation 21:5. We tend to forget that our future as believers holds not only a new heaven, but a new earth as well (Revelation 21:1). Presumably, this new earth will include elements of the old earth, including living creatures, which will live with us in freedom from the taint of sin and death. It will be a redeemed creation. And if in this fallen creation we enjoy closeness with our pets, would it be too much to think that the new creation would provide even better relationships in this area? I’m not saying that God will resurrect the dead bodies of our pets and reunite them with their souls (the way God will do with human beings in the general resurrection at Christ's return); but I do think a case can be made for an appropriate closeness between humans and animals in the new creation to come. I think this is the Apostle Paul’s main point in Romans 8:19-21, which states: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

All of this begs the bigger question: will Hannah's breath smell better in heaven?


mbpbooks said...

I also like the biblical hint about the end of the predator-prey relationship as the lion cuddles up with the lamb. Peace and plenty in the animal kingdom!

For the record, Hannah's breath smells like fresh mint. Ask your sons. They will agree with their aunt.

Carl Hofmann said...

As for Hannah's breath...that ain't any mint I done smelled before!

I love the reminder of the prophecy from Isaiah 11--redeemed animal kingdom!