Pets Are Not Babies: ‘Fur Babies’ and the Worship of Feelings

Imagine that a friend tells you that her child is sick and may die. You will feel shocked and saddened, and will likely ask how you can help. You will pledge to pray for her child and family.

Would anything change if the friend replied, “Thanks, we’re hoping Fluffy makes it”? According to many people, it should not be. With fertility at an all-time low and pet ownership hovering around more Americans, more Americans are not only talking about, but treating furry companions like children.

In a recent article Atlantic Ocean Title “Pets Can Really Be Like Human Family” Catherine Wu argued. that “…calling some pet owners ‘parents’ to their dogs or cats may be the best shorthand for these relationships.” Wu describes the growing pet economy of products and services that once mirrored products designed for children. More Americans than ever are buying their pets “home-cooked meals … strollers … memory foam mattresses … their own clothing lines.” They are also paying for wellness centers, doggy daycares, “acupuncture, surgery, chemotherapy, even organ transplants.” In 2022, the pet economy totaled more than $136 billion and, by most indications, is only likely to grow.

According to one The Pew Research survey cited in the article, The majority of America’s 200 million pet owners describe their animals. as “family” and more than half said their pet was “as much a part of their family as a human member.” That means, in Wu’s view, it’s time not only to normalize talking about pets as children, but also to provide owners with the same benefits as parents. For example, she argued, employers should offer paid time off to new pet parents and pet insurance in employee benefit packages, and rental properties should have fewer pet restrictions.

In short, according to Wu, pet owners “deserve the same support system that helps people care for their loved ones.” After all, he continued, “(p)sychologically, scientifically …

And there it is. Wu’s argument rests on the broad but largely unconscious assumption that whatever we felt What is it the truth, Especially if those feelings are strong. However, this assumption is incorrect.

What is true, of course, is that pets are a blessing. They can be wonderful companions and enrich life in many ways. Losing a beloved pet is incredibly difficult, as CS Lewis warned. The Four Loves. IIf you want a life free of sorrow, he wrote, “You must not give your heart to anyone, not even to an animal.”

It is also true, importantly, that pets are not people. Animals are not made in the image of God and do not share the value and dignity of humans. Officially, at least when considering the full importance of human beings, they are only members of the family in the metaphorical sense.

It was Christians like William Wilberforce who elevated the treatment of animals. However, the current tendency to treat animals as offspring is shaped more by the devaluation of humans, especially children, than the proper value of animals. Another, more serious symptom of this cultural disease is the low birth rate in the Western world, which is inseparable from a correspondingly low marriage rate. As a result, millions of would-be mothers and fathers are left without children to raise. The experience of having a pet offers a vague sense of parenthood without the life-changing and more difficult responsibility of raising a human.

This is a change from past generations when feelings were considered to either reflect reality or not. Today, we tend to judge reality by our feelings, not to mention technologies and wealth. An unprecedented number of Americans now treat animals as icons, not because it’s true, but because it is. feels the truth

While it’s easy to make fun of things like “Child Leave“Fur babies are not the real problem. They are a symbol of a culture full of people who, as author Thaddeus Williams suggests, are determined to “follow their hearts.” According to Scripture, our hearts, unless They are not made new in Christ, leading us away from reality. If we follow, the result is inhumanity.

On a positive note, the Pew survey Wu noted in his article that most respondents who call their animals “family” think that “there is already enough emphasis on pet welfare in this country.” , even more so.” Perhaps then, some of this talk about animals as children is not serious. I’d like to think that most people, if faced with rescuing a dog or a daughter from a burning building, would make the right choice.

Still, until we get over our collective worship of emotions and the illusion that reality can bend around them, having a pet won’t be the funniest thing we see.

This Break point Shane Morris was a co-author. For more resources on living as a Christian in this cultural moment, visit breakpoint.org

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