We have a sign in our kitchen that says “Mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young!” Now…that’s a joke. We raised four terrific sons and never, at any point, considered placing them in a large saucepan. A barrel maybe. But not for cooking. Yet, as I understand it, some pretty smart folks would have to say that would be ok. If they are consistent in their reasoning they would approve eating our children. We’ll come back to that idea in a moment.
Nineteen hundred and fifty years ago, in ancient Judea, a low-level government official named Festus found himself puzzled as to what to do with the Apostle Paul. Not many people liked Paul. Festus just wanted to be rid of him. Why? Because Paul was going about speaking of the Resurrected Christ. Not helpful to Festus or King Agrippa who wanted only one thing: “Pax Romana” or the “Peace of Rome.” In other words, “Don’t cause problems please.”
Anyway, one day Paul told his story to a group of people including King Agrippa and Festus. Picture this: after a few stunning paragraphs from Paul, Festus leans back and stares at him in disbelief! Paul was a learned man. Everyone knew that. Festus knew it too. But this was too much. This account of Jesus and his Resurrection was outrageous. Finally, Festus looks at Paul and says rather indelicately:
Acts 26:24 (NIV) “You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane.”
I am a born again Christian and I am quite certain of the Resurrection of our Lord. But when I was an atheist I might have used the words of Festus quite happily. There are times when very smart people seem to have gone mad! Such a case recently came our way in a New York Times article by Professor George David Haskell from Sewanee: The University of the South. Prof. Haskell’s offering was titled: “Nature’s Case for Same-Sex Marriage.” Shorthand on the gentleman’s argument seems to be that arguments appealing to “nature” to condemn homosexuality falter upon review of the facts. He reminds us that the created order allows for all kinds of same-sex variations. He cites multiple examples of plant life that is both male and female. Even more “compelling” is this fact: “Mating among gastropods is charged with romantic tension; two males and two females are caught up in every embrace.” [As comedian Dave Barry would say “I am not making this up!”]
After researching “gastropods” we find that they are mollusks. Little slugs with nasty looking, but apparently romantic, eyes. Ok. The point is made. “Hey…that’s all we need to know! If gastropods naturally engage in same sex passions then there it is! How red-necked and cruel of us to deny gastropods same-sex marriage, tax benefits, etc. It’s a matter of civil rights for gastropods for Heaven’s sake!”
We should not be surprised at this argument. We are living in an age when some far left thinkers insist that no moral differences exist between animals and humans or gastropods and humans for that matter. After all, who are we humans to say that we are made in the image of God with souls unique to humanity? Does not an honest materialistic view of creation demand that we finally acknowledge that we humans are just upright animals with larger brains…sometimes? Along this same line, check out the PETA video featuring actor Joaquin Phoenix in an aquarium lamenting over the treatment of fish. Apparently, fish are people too! Thus he pleads with the viewer to “Put yourself in their place!” [Why would I do that?] He tells us that over a trillion fish suffocate every year when caught and brought up on land. Since fish have the same rights as people, this is quite unacceptable! He does not mention that trillions of humans have consumed fish for millennia and have been grateful for nature’s provision. But, now we’ve got guilt!
This notion that no differences of value or being exist between man and animal or man and gastropods or man and fish has become the rallying cry for legions of irrational vegans and others. I asked a newly- minted vegetarian why he avoids meat and the answer was twofold:  Humans were never meant to eat meat [a curious assertion considering these very pointy teeth that don’t seem necessary for pasta] and  Animal cruelty is a wicked and horrific reality. The first part is silly. The second is sensible. No one wants animal cruelty. [Almost no one.] But wait….the second part is morally bankrupt if it only applies to animals. I proceeded to ask my vegan friend “Why is it that most animal rights people I meet are passionate about the well-being of the snail darter off of Cape Cod and the scorpion population in the sub-Saharan desert….but they have no objection to killing two to three thousand unborn human children every day in the womb? Crushing their skulls and tearing off their arms and/or burning off their skin?” His reply? “I don’t want to talk about that.” I understand. If I held to that value system I would not want to talk about it either. Such confused citizens remind me of Isaiah Chapter Five:
Isaiah 5:20 (NIV) Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Anyway…back to Professor Haskell. His argument seems to be all living things have the same rights and yield to the same natural inclinations. So, if gastropods are ok with boy gastropods taking boy gastropods to the gastropod prom, we should be too. But I wonder about this…it is widely reported that some animals, mice for example, eat their young for various reasons [presumably to do with hunger or disease although no mice biographies have yet been published explaining the behavior.] But if animals do it why can’t we? I know of no one who desires to eat any of their children but who could condemn them if they did so desire? Certainly not Professor Haskell. That would be inconsistent. If animals do it, it must be in our fleshly software so people can do it too. Right? Why not?
Professor….perhaps the point is simply that WE ARE NOT ANIMALS! Thus, their behaviors have nothing to offer us in developing our moral codes or maintaining a beneficent society.
I suspect it would matter little to the Professor if I pointed out that when the Christ came into the world he “took on flesh” and revealed himself as the sinless “Son of Man.” We have no record of him being understood as the “Son of Gastropod” or any other soul less creature. How sad and silly is the argument that we humans are nothing more than flesh and no more important to God than a mollusk? It speaks for itself. And somehow I can hear our ancient friend Festus saying “Professor…you’re a bright guy but…I gotta’ tell ya’….your great learning is driving you insane.”