You won’t hear many, if any, sermons preached on the topic but there are some spiritual values to having a pet.
Pet ownership, especially for kids, teaches responsibility. A pet properly cared for means a greater understanding of dependence and the importance of dependability; these are very different lessons but equally needed. The necessary interaction, patience, affection, feeding and the cleaning up of messes create a more mature person. Having a pet as a child isn’t mandatory but it can have a huge return on the investment as we go from being a child to becoming an adult.
Pet ownership also teaches us that death “stinks”, and this is a feeling that continues beyond childhood. Is the death of a pet equivalent to the death of a human? Absolutely not! But this doesn’t mean it comes without pain to the tender of heart. Pets can very much become a lengthy part of our lives. And while I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea that pets will be in Heaven, there is something to the thought that even creation itself is frustrated at the toils of life and its accompanying reality reality of death (Romans 8:19-22). Due to an accident, I lost a relatively healthy pet I had for 17 years; she was an awesome pet. She wasn’t human but her death still drives home certain aspects of the biblical vanities of life.
Lastly, pet ownership can simply help us to enjoy life a little more. Many people in hospitals and nursing homes enjoy visits from animals that fall into the traditional pet category; and perhaps a visit from a few of the non-traditional pet varieties. Pets can makes us laugh and they provide a unique kind of companionship … an old saying about a man and his dog comes to mind. We shouldn’t spend more time or financial resources on a pet than we do for charitable reasons toward our fellow man but nonetheless one thing is for certain: owning a good pet is good for the soul!
Please don’t use that last line with people who have pet chickens.
“A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10, NKJV)