We should not love animals more than people. True?

Surely, we should not love animals more than people” so states Karen Swallow Prior, Ph.D who is also a deacon at her local church. She is a Christian writing for the website: Christianity Today. Incidentally, she is on the faith advisory council of HSUS.

The statement surprised me. It was made in an article about cat hoarding. Prior also states that cat hoarders say that they love their cats but the love is really attachment and not true love. Cat hoarders are confusing love and attachment.

Karen Prior also makes the following surprising statement:

“To place one’s heart in the hidden treasures of material goods, illicit relationships, or animal companionship is to disorder our affections and, as a result, our lives….”

She places the love of animal companionship (and therefore the animal) in the same bracket as a love for material possessions. This is surely unchristian and incorrect.

“Placing one’s heart” in this context means “love”. She is stating that love for a companion animal is a disordered affection.

She also says that we need to love things of various kinds in “proper measure”, meaning at the right level, neither too much nor too little. Her opinion is that companion animals should not be the recipient of our true love. That kind of love should be reserved for people only.

This really does support my argument that Christianity continues to centered around people. It is still too heavily centered around people. You could argue that Christianity was created by people for people. Hence it sidelines everything else including, importantly our fellow creatures on the planet.

She loves her catI hate to say this but she also states that, with respect to animals and in this instance cats, there is a fine line between “dominion” and “domination”.  Nice buzz words but she brings back into the discussion the concept of dominion over animals referred to in the bible. She is saying cat hoarders should have dominion over their cats but not domination.

As far as I am concerned, neither is correct.  Yes, cat hoarding is a form of mental illness and cat hoarders are blind to what they are doing. She is correct in one way. Cat hoarders end up being cruel to their cats under the guise of love. Cruelty of all kinds can come in the form of love. This often happens between people.

Lastly, in general, I love cats (and animals) more than people. I understand them better and feel an affinity with them that I don’t get with people. I don’t mind stating that and it is not distorted love. It is as true and pure as anything I have experienced for a person.

Facebook Comments


We should not love animals more than people. True? — 20 Comments

  1. She got it completely wrong. We should not love cats more than we love God. We should not love people more than we love God.

    The Bible acknowledges the love a person can have for a companion animal being equal to the love for a human family member. When Nathan confronts David he tells a story of a rich man who kills a poor man’s lamb, a lamb who was treated as a pet and loved as a daughter by the poor man. David’s response is that the man who did this should die. Even though the real point of the story was David’s stealing another man’s wife, the fact that he reacted so strongly against the killing of a pet shows that humans have always made connections with animals that are as strong as their bonds with other people.

    If she’s writing from a Christian perspective, then take it back to the First Commandment. Did the woman hoarding the cats place them first in her life, ahead of God? If so then it was wrong. If we love our cats more than we love God we are committing idolatry. I try to avoid that with Monty, remembering that he is a gift from a loving God. When I interact with Monty I am reminded how much God loves me. If I love Monty it’s because I was first loved by God, a love I do not deserve and did not earn.

    Humans were created differently from the rest of creation. We were above the animals and the proof of that is in the fact that when man earned death as the wages of his sin, all creation died. We must avoid worshiping creation because we were not created to do that, we were created to take care of creation and worship God. Christians who are more than Christians in name only know that dominion meant to take care of everything, not an excuse to misuse and abuse it. They also know that sinful humans no longer have dominion, but are in fact responsible for the present state of this world– the death, the animals hunting other animals for food, the natural disasters that happen, the famines in all parts of the world. When the world was cursed because of human sin everything suffered. There is a reason most animals are naturally afraid of humans. Being created in the image of God meant that we were actually capable of ruining everything, and we did. It is our nature now to want to put ourselves above everything else, forgetting our role in destroying the world as it was and replacing it with this vale of tears.

    It’s a great gift when a little animal actually trusts us and wants to be with us. It’s a glimpse to how things were supposed to be. But we can’t get so into trying to recreate Eden that we forget about God. Without Him we’re never getting back into that Garden. Hoarding cats could be a way of trying to “save them all.” A person who remembers God will save those she can and rely on God’s mercy for the rest. We can end up doing more than we are called to do when we take on too much and that’s not God’s plan for us. We aren’t supposed to drive ourselves crazy and live in unhealthy conditions trying to make the world a better place. We should just do what we can in faith and trust Him for the rest. I want to save more cats so much, but my husband says no, so to try to circumvent that would be wrong. To care for Monty the best I can is what I am called to do. Jeff does allow me to donate money to cat shelters and help other cats that way. In this way we are both happy, Monty is happy, and other cats are helped.

    • She got it completely wrong. We should not love cats more than we love God. We should not love people more than we love God.

      That sounds right to me. I can accept that and even like it.

      Ruth, you’ll be pleased to know that I might go to church a bit. I think it will be good for me. I used to go three times on Sunday when I was at school! True 😉

      I have not been for ages. I think I need the guidance, support and the help of a God.

      • I know it helps me. I have wandered, but I am always drawn back. Probably because I play the organ and if I want to get paid I have to go to church. God knew I would struggle so he made me a church organist so I would always be in church!

        So many churches preach such empty doctrines, even saying that if you believe in Jesus you will have material blessings. (Jesus never promised that!) I pray that you can find a place, Michael, where you will hear the true Gospel, not one of materialism.

        If you lived nearby I would bring you to Mt. Zion to hear Pastor Aaron Koch. I always enjoy his sermons when I play for Wendy for a Saturday Mass there. He posts his sermons on FB sometimes. Another good read is anything by Dr. Gene Edward Veith. He was a professor of mine in college.

        I am happy you are seeking God, Michael. I believe you will find the peace you seek, though it may take time and there will be set backs. But remember that God sent you Charlie as a tangible symbol of His deep love for you. The same God who made Charlie made you. This is what I believe.

      • I have you beat, Michael. Once on Christmas Eve I was in church five times all on the same day. Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday so I had to play the two regular Sunday morning services, two afternoon services that were basically choir concerts and the candlelight service at 11 p.m. Blah! My brain hurt after all that!

  2. I think it’s perfectly normal to love some animals more than we love some people. But when it comes to action it shouldn’t matter how we feel. If a person needs help we should help. If animals are in need we should help. To the best of our ability, because no one can do everything, but we can all do something. Sometimes animals are more in need than people, because there are government programs to help poor people, but there are only government shelters set up to kill animals in need. If the answer to poverty was to kill poor people, you can bet we’d all be fighting like crazy to stop that. Well, the answer to companion animals’ need for homes is to kill the animals. Of course we have to stand up against that. It’s barbaric and not necessary.

    • “If the answer to poverty was to kill poor people, you can bet we’d all be fighting like crazy to stop that.”

      Brilliant point Ruth

  3. I am an animal lover, especially cats, and prefer them to human
    and take issue with some of her assertions. But, the one that makes me mad is her opinion that animal love is a disordered affection and draws comparisons beween that and the love for material things.

    Although I am no longer christian, I think I can say that there is a difference between what is considered to be “created” and what is “made” in the christian world.
    Created means something that is new and, perhaps, made out of nothing.
    Made is to make something out of already existing materials.

    In this sense, living things are created (humans, animals, vegetation) and objects (buildings, cars) are made. Therefore, my love for animals can’t be compared to my love for shoes.

    Among creations, it could be argued that our love should be equal across the board and that one creation isn’t better than another. But, we’re human and choose the order of our affections.

    I love cats more than people.
    My neighbor loves marijuans (a plant creation) more than animals and people.
    My sister loves people more than animals.

    • Nice comment Dee. Very correct and observant. If all animals including the human animal are equal as they should be then they have the right to be loved equally.

  4. That woman is just silly! I love our cats more than any person in the world apart from my sister Barbara and why shouldn’t I love them more than people who don’t love or care about me.
    To me cats are family and deserve family love, they repay us a thousand times over by loving us back. I don’t care who says cats don’t love people, they DO love their special people in their own way.
    This is what I don’t understand about people like that ignorant deacon, a Christian should surely love all the life God created, we are all living beings just in different forms and we speak a different language. We are NOT above other living beings, we should share the world and all the beautiful things in it.
    I had a Priest friend who was a very nice lady, one of the first women Priests in our country, she had a ‘blind spot’ about animals, showed no interest in their welfare, said she was vegetarian yet ate lamb and bacon. We lost touch when she moved away but she wasn’t my usual kind of friend anyway.
    Hold your head high Michael and go on loving cats more than people because cats never deliberately hurt or betray us like many people end up doing.

    • That woman is just silly!

      Another example of a highly qualified person who we are supposed to respect and listen to getting it wrong. A lot of academics are fakes really. They are just ambitious people who want a doctorate to get some respect and more money. They often know and understand less than people at the sharp end who have actual experience.

      • Yes – you can’t learn everything from books. I think emotional intelligence is the intelligence nobody talks about but which actually is the phenomena you are talking about. The fact that people with qualifications can have the emotional age of a 5 years old on a regular basis – and it’s scary if they have power. That’s why our system is at fault in a way. There are not enough checks and balances for being emotionally intelligent. But the main glitch is really that wanting power and status that culture offers is a sign of being emotionally unintelligent, yet it’s the drive you need to get there. In other words maybe you have to be a bit of a d*ck to actually want to get there as well as needing to be one actually going through it – “well, if you want that promotion you better fight for it” etc. There’s of course always the genuine person who loves something and becomes a doctor or reaches the ‘top’ of it but I just think when it comes to ‘tops’ of things there really is a low average of emotional intelligence. I think you can’t be emotionally well to actually do some fo those jobs.

        A phenomena which is not good for the animals in the end.

    • As usual I totally agee 🙂

      I think a person can and should love whatever he or she most wants to love, no matter what it is – life is a lesson, not a trial.

      …I’ll be back soon – I actually have an old friend here as a guest but for 2 whole long weeks and with the cats of course – well lets just say I’m managing.

      I miss my POC time 🙁

      • I think a person can and should love whatever he or she most wants to love

        That is an interesting comment because this lady is proscribing what we can and cannot love (the point you are making). When you think about it is crazy to try and do that and unnatural and ungodly. To say we have to love people the most is absurd when you think about it a bit.

  5. I’m sorry but she is a fool, if only she could understand how much love and companionship a cat, or dog, returns to one who loves them, but she is blinded by her doctrine. Why shouldn’t we love an animal that is close to us, innocent and loving, more than someone who doesn’t give two hoots about us, why shouldn’t people on their own without human companions love their pet as much as any human, many an isolated or old person only has a cat or dog in the world to love. This is where I fall out a bit with the Christian faith I’m afraid, Christians want the world for people, they want to have dominion over all. Me, I would just happily share the world all being equal and that includes animals. I have loved all the cats and dogs we have ever had as much as the human members of the family, it doesn’t matter if they wear fur or skin they’re my kin and I love them all. And if anyone doesn’t like it then they’ll have to lump it.

  6. Although personally i am not a recluse and do socialize, mix and relate to my fellow humans i should admit that i am most comfortable at home with my 3 pets, 2 cats and a parakeet.As for “Cat Hoarders” i definitely feel its a disease with most cat lovers who keep more cats than they can afford to maintain.As a blogger my pets definitely help me in my hobby as they are non-judgmental and a distraction from “Writers Block”.

    • Nice thought. If we are more comfortable in the presence of our companion animals it is an indicator that we like them better than people. Is that true? It seems like it to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.