Tuesday, September 05, 2006

do our pets go to heaven?


I read Psalm 36 this morning. I love verses 5-6 which I have often shared with people when they are mourning the loss of a pet.

5 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your judgements are like the great deep;
you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

Will we see our pets in heaven? Many people say that animals don't have eternal souls, which may be true. I'm not sure. They definitely aren't made in the image of God as human beings are.

We do know that there will be animals in the new heaven and the new earth of eternity. We see in the Old Testament that the lion will lie down with the lamb. We also know that there were animals in the Garden of Eden.

Then we have to ask if all pets go to heaven. Some animals are obviously mean. Do they go to hell or just cease to exist? Its also possible that our personal pets are not eternal, but that they cease to exist when they die. But there might be new pets for us in heaven that are even better than our pets here.

By the way, it should be noted that neither dogs nor humans become angels when they die. Angels are an entirely different species altogether.

29 comments:

Holy Pirate said...

As I had to confess to my son just last week, I don't know the answer to your question. But if pets do go to heaven I hope I don't run into the dog pictured in your post.

Carol Herdien said...

It's hard to know for sure whether dogs have souls, but one thing I do know -- they love us unconditionally, more than some humans can manage.

I hope to see my parents, grandparents and other relatives when and if I go to heaven, but will also pray that I see Teddy, Tina, Scheherazade I, Scheherazade II, and Skippy in some form. As the grizzled old man said in a Twilight Zone episode "Can't be a Heaven if they don't allow dogs in."

Carol Herdien

Jason Woolever said...

Carol, do all dogs love unconditionally or just good dogs?

And how about cats? I had a cat that was so mean we eventually had to put her to sleep. We couldn't handle the bloodbath. Will she be in heaven, but in a nicer version?

How about really good dogs that belong to unsaved owners? Will they be strays in heaven?

Jason Woolever said...

pirate, if the dog pictured in my post is in heaven, heaven will not be safe.

Cheryl said...

I don't claim to be the ultimate authority, well, at least not about animals having souls.(office joke). It just doesn't seem rational to think heaven will house every pet or animal that ever lived who was "good". Isn't there something in Revelation about "every man" being judged, not "every being". I have had many beloved pets, all now dead, and I'm just tired of losing them to fast cars. I'd much rather put my time and effort into people, and maybe have a positive impact on their soul, which seems all-important to me. (By the way, I've seen Jason's cat, she was NOT heaven material.)

Jason Woolever said...

good point cheryl. if every pet we ever had was in heaven, and we'd have to take care of them all, we'd have no time for anything else.

PS. cheryl, you should have met her before she was declawed. in seminary i used to wear long sleeve shirts to hide the scabbed over scrapes that covered my forearms

Mark Winter said...

Jason,

Good post and one I'm interested in because I'm an animal lover (though I wouldn't offer my hand to the demonized dog in the photo). I blogged about this a while back after I read Anthony DeStefano's Travel Guide to Heaven. DeStefano's premise is that God would not lose the variety, color and majesty of the animal kingdom, his own creation, in eternity. For those who say, "Animals have no souls," he points out that St. John saw rivers and trees in the New Jerusalem: they certainly have no souls, either.

Jason Woolever said...

ew! very good point about rivers and trees!

bandlady said...

I don't know if Lucy and Josie have souls, but I certainly would love to see them in heaven. Hopefully Lucy will have gotten over her poopie-eating by then.

As a volunteer for the humane society in the past, I have seen "mean" dogs come into the shelter. They are mean purely because of the abuse they have received and have developed this as a self-defense mechanism, much like "mean" kids we see who are abused. They have no other choice. There ARE dogs that develop severely submissive personalities as a result of abuse, too. They're so afraid of everything that they shy away and hide as their method of self-preservation.

People AND animals act in a manner which helps them survive according to the experiences in their lives, both positive and negative.

I don't believe there are bad dogs, just dogs that have learned no other way and are a danger to others. It's a sad fact of life. Too bad they're not sentient beings that can be taught otherwise. It would prevent a lot of hurt people and dead dogs.

Jason Woolever said...

Bandlady, I accept your theory about bad dogs are only those that have been made bad by humans. But what about cats? Does the same apply for them? I never beat or hurt Gabby. She was just always a little mean. I think she liked the taste of blood to much.

post-methodist wife, still loving that cat said...

I loved that cat! She could be so sweet and loving! She used to curl up on my tummy both times I was pregnant and purr and purr. If we do see cats in heaven I sure hope I see Gabby!

bandlady said...

Okay, my opinion of cats comes from Garrison Keillor:

"Cats were put on this earth to show that not everything in nature has a purpose."

That being said, Gabby wasn't a bad cat. Lots of cats use their teeth when they don't have their claws. It's a defense mechanism. You guys were nothing but great cat parents. (Remember that she was not with you her entire life, either! Who knows what her previous "parents" were like...)

My parents have had their cats since birth and they are declawed. They will occasionally bite if they feel they are threatened. It's not being bad. It's self-preservation in their eyes.

But I do think Gabby enjoyed the sweet taste of blood on occassion! LOL :)

Carol Herdien said...

My daughter Ruth had a cat named Newton who was rescued from a dumpster at only a few weeks old, along with its siblings, thrown in there by some despicable person who will have to answer to God for that act of cruelty.

Although Ruth's cat received loving care, it never got over its terrible beginnings and was never friendly and always hissed at me and others when approached. But the cat loved Ruth and Ruth loved her cat. When cats/dogs/children have a terrible beginning, all the love and care in the world may not change their basic fears and mistrust. Jason, you might not know what happened to Gabby at the start of her life. And yes, a declawed cat will bite -- just ask Ruth.

I loved Mark Winter's answer about trees and rivers and agree 100% about Bandlady's comments. In the Thresermen's Parade this Sunday, the Humane Society had some tiny kittens that some cold-hearted human had discarded. Where was that person's soul?

Carol Herdien

Anonymous said...

If we are not givin in marriage in heaven because we have a higher purpose, than doesn't the discussion of seeing our pets become kind of a pointless distraction? What is heaven for, our enjoyment or for the worship of God?? I can't help but believe that in heaven my thoughts will be on God and not wondering if Fluffy made it.

Jason Woolever said...

Anon, you said, "What is heaven for, our enjoyment or for the worship of God?"

Undoubtedly both! Heaven won't be a never ending church service. And what about the joy of the Lord?

And is God some kind of slave driver? No he's a Father who loves to give his children things that will delight them. Is God too high to surprise us with resurrected pets in heaven? I would say I don't know if they'll be there, but not that its outside of the nature of God to make it so.

Anonymous said...

Jason,

God will provided for Pirate just as the "birds in the air and the fish in the sea".

Couldn't you have found a more cuddly dog / cat to illustrate your point?

"If Pirate is let into heaven, heaven will not be safe".

Whose dog is that anyway?

John Flores
Friso, Texas

Jason Woolever said...

i don't know! hopefully someone who likes getting chewed up.

Mark Winter said...

"I can't help but believe that in heaven my thoughts will be on God and not wondering if Fluffy made it."

Anon, loosen up. Yes, our focus of worship in heaven will be God and the Lamb, but that doesn't mean heaven won't be a spectacular place with glorified elements. In the Messianic age envisioned by Isaiah, the lion and lamb will lie down together and a child will play near the cobra's hole without fear. If you look at the picture of the New Jerusalem in St. John's vision, there is a crystal sea, bejeweled gates, a river flowing from the heavenly throne, the tree of life bearing perennial crops & healing in its leaves, etc. There will be wonders and marvels there that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard."

"Is God too high to surprise us with resurrected pets in heaven? I would say I don't know if they'll be there, but not that its outside of the nature of God to make it so." Right on, Jason! I can't say with 100% definitiveness, either, but the God I know is a Father who loves to lavish good and perfect gifts on his children. In the beginning, he gave humankind an idyllic garden with plants, animals & rivers; surely it's not too great of a leap to anticipate a perfect, Edenlike setting in heaven.

Enough rambling....

Jason Woolever said...

that's good rambling Mark! Thanks for the scriptural imagery.

Anonymous said...

Nice pic

Anonymous said...

After reading all the comments, I think the real question is "Do our pastors go to heaven?"

all y'all are crazy

Mark Winter said...

"All y'all are crazy..."

Thanks, Anon, for the compliment. As far as your doubts of whether I'll be in heaven, rest easy. I'll be there because my admittance isn't based on whether I think pets will be in heaven. It's a gift from God that I've gladly received:

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph 2:8-9)

Neil said...

Good, well balanced post. One thing we can know for sure: Either our pets will be in Heaven, or we won't care that they aren't there.

I had a cat who was demon possessed, so I'm assuming she is sitting on Satan's lap right now.

Jason Woolever said...

you may be right, i may be crazy, but it just might be a lunatic you're looking for.

Good summation Neil

teachu2 said...

The God I know and love would have all my pets in Heaven waiting for me when I arrive there as Jesus promised. I can't imagine that God would not allow my favorite animals who comforted me in this life to not be with me throughout eternity. God loves us too much to not make heaven a beautiful place with all the treasures of our heart to be with us in heaven.

teachu2 said...

Oh! I also believe that we will be able to communicate with our pets in heaven, too! God is so awesome!

Carol Herdien said...

This is a verse from a card sent to me after my dog Skippy died. Perhaps it seems too sentimental except to dog and cat lovers, but it still gives me a lump in my throat when I read it, and it comforted me.

The Rainbow Bridge

There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. The old and frail animals are young again. Those who are maimed are made whole again. They play all day with each other.

There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special
person who loved them on Earth. So, each day they run and play
until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and
looks up! The nose twitches! The ears are up! The eyes are staring! And this one suddenly runs from the group!

You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet,
you take him or her in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and again and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.

Author Unknown

Carol Herdien

John said...

Our Lord is an efficient and multi-tasking God. Dog Heaven is also Rabbit Hell.

Jason Woolever said...

wow, that's a great point john.