Personal TestimoniesPersonal Testimonies - The Beginnings of Systematic Theology
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Our backgrounds, our experiences, our encounters with God and His creation, and our education, all play a part in the manner in which we interpret the Bible. Following is one of these testimonies by a vegan lay person.

By Paul Burton

Hello Everyone:

I thought that as one of the Veg-Christian list "lurkers", I would put a few of my personal thoughts down and maybe encourage others to do the same.  The reason I am a vegetarian is that I simply can't stand the thought of the fear that animals, in all their innocence, must feel when being dragged into the slaughterhouse, knowing full well from the smells and horrific noises what is going to happen to them. The horror of the actual death at the uncaring hands of the often clumsy and occasionally malicious slaughtermen is for me beyond words.

There are probably many on the list who feel that it is the taking of life that is the issue.  For me it is not necessarily the taking of life but the fear, pain and suffering of the animals in any situation, whether it is the fox being chased by the hounds, the rat in the laboratory or the sheep in the slaughterhouse, that is unbelievably upsetting and totally objectionable.  I think the way forward for animal rights / vegetarians etc.. is not to get into lengthy, angry, intellectual or academic arguments with the world at large but to target the many people in the world who do have real feelings and compassion for animals, but have maybe never faced up to or thought about the animal issues.

The thought that their pet dogs, cats, rabbits that they love so much are no different from sheep, cows, deer, etc. should be obvious.  In a debate on, for example, a political issue, a viewpoint argued well may often change the opinion of people listening.  However, the animal issue is based on feelings, and it doesn't matter what you say or how well you argue with someone who feels nothing at the sight or thought of animal suffering.  They will never understand or change their mind.

The intellectual and academic issues raised on the list regarding religious and social matters (demiurge, specieism, Sartre, or is it Satre etc...) I often find difficult to follow (this is certainly not a criticism, there is still a great variety on the list).   As a Christian I believe God is Love, the Holy Spirit can be alive and real within us all, Jesus died for us, etc.  I know and "feel" deeply these things are true, but these, and a few other one line statements would be the extent of my written "proof" of the existence of God.  I'm sure most of us would agree the real proof of God is within our hearts, the belief that He really does love us, speaks to us, and through Jesus we can speak to Him.  The things that should unite "Christians" and "Vegetarians", I think, are love and compassion.  

To repeat what I wrote when joining the list, the great difficulty I have found as a fairly new Christian is the apparent lack of interest or compassion for animal welfare within the church.  I have yet to actually meet a Christian Vegetarian. Sadly, the same seems to be true to some extent of the Bible.  Apart from animals being a source of food, and in the Old Testament for sacrifice, there seems to be little compassion expressed.  (I have had some very helpful postings from the list on these issues.) Anyway, before I go back to lurk mode, I just wanted to say how good it is that throughout the postings submitted to the list, even when opposing views are expressed, there is a respect, friendliness and lack of scorn/malice/aggression (not quite the right words) towards others' views.

Love to all,

Paul Burton
Blackpool, England.

(28 August 1999)

Go on to comments by: Sue - Posted 7 January 2001
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