Of men and dogs...

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Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. - Matthew 7:6

Google's news page just now had two headlines on top of each other. The first announced "IS militants abduct dozens of Christians in Syria." The article says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the number of Syrian Christians captured at ninety. IS itself announced that it had captured "tens of Crusaders," so the total isn't yet clear. Those captured include women and children. May God rescue them from these evil men intent on capturing victims to be offered up in worship of their bloodthirsty Molech.

Then, just under the headline about the abduction of Christians is this headline: "Rescuers free nineteen manatees stuck in drain in Satellite Beach (w/video)." Undoubtedly the story was filled with hope and transcendence. Like ASPCA commercials, it must have been a spiritual story about the meaning of life. Not in Florida alone, but across these United States.

Newly married, I was the custodian of our church and one Saturday night as I was cleaning for Sunday worship I began browsing through our pastor's books. One volume was a collection of writings of early church fathers on disparate subjects and one of the essays was a denunciation of Christians who poured money into their dogs while infants lay on the hillsides crying piteously as they died...

These were, of course, the infants given birth by mothers, only to have the father of the household, Rome's patria potestas, turn his back on his little one. By the father's decree, the little one was carried out to the hillside and abandoned. Exposed to the elements, she cried until the breath of life was taken from her and she died.

The early church father intensely rebuked and condemned his fellow Christians for their fawning attention over their dogs while children exposed on the hillsides died. This is American Christianity. We're all talk about our "passion" for God and our "love" for others, but in fact we are passionate about our comfort and we love ourselves. Attention and money and medical care and petting and play with our dog is attention and money and medical care and petting and play with ourselves.

If I were a pomo narcissist wanting to prove that I'm as sensitive and sentimental as the next guy, I'd stop here and tell you how we had the world's best black lab; that her name was Kenya... (and I'd be telling the truth). Or I would qualify my statements by pointing out dogs are helpful for the elderly and invalids, as well as singles who live alone (which also is true).

But of course, those things are not what needs to be said today. What does need to be said is that we Christians should be ashamed of our taking pictures and writing and talking and spending money and feeding and cooing over our dogs while we are indifferent to men who bear the Image of God and are suffering. We coo over our dogs while children await foster care and adoption, the elderly lie abandoned in nursing homes, the unborn are slaughtered right down the street from us, Syrian Christians are captured and (likely) beheaded, and the list goes on.

In his Intellectuals, Paul Johnson commented on how many intellectuals proclaimed themselves great hearts for the world and lovers of mankind while they were heartless and cruel toward every individual person they knew—particularly their own family members. After publishing essays and books in which he demonstrated a towering concern for the lower classes, for instance, the intellectual committed adultery with his maid, he provided no support for his wife as she kept their household; and then, inevitably, he abandoned his wife and children.

That insensitive early church father (his name escapes me) shamed the people of God for loving their dogs instead of loving the children exposed on the hillsides. He said it was scandalous that men and women of God would spend money and time on animals while little babies bearing the Image of God were dying with no Christian to rescue them.

Do you love your cat or dog more tenderly than you love your husband or wife? Your children? Do you treat your loved ones like dogs and your dog like a loved one?

Has it ever occurred to you that your tender solicitude toward your cat or dog is scandalous to those who watch your treatment of your family members, of other men and women who are God's Image-bearers?

When our Lord said, "Inasmuch as you've done it to the least of these," He was speaking of men, women, and children. Not cats and dogs. The Good Samaritan wasn't rescuing a dog.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!