Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: Pets in Heaven
1. Do pets have a soul? Do you need a soul to get into “heaven”?
2. Is there a hierarchy of being, i.e. humans over animals? Is there a hierarchy of love i.e. human love of another human over human love of a pet?
3. The author chose not to discuss heaven as a “place” ~ believing that those who came to him were seeking mercy and assurance, more than information and understanding. Would you have handled this situation differently?
4. How could your church minister to people with pets? Blessing of the animals? Pet funerals? Pets on the prayer list?
Pets in Heaven
“Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.” – Genesis 7:15
“God wishes other creatures besides humans to be included in the plan of salvation.” – St. Francis of Assisi
“One day we will see our pets in the eternity of Christ.” – Pope Paul VI
Many children learn to love through their first pet, and losing a pet is often their first experience with death and grief. For many adults, losing a pet is like losing a child. Some proclaim that losing a child is a greater grief than losing a pet. I have lost both pet and young child, and it seems to me that loss is loss, grief is grief, and love is love.
Over the past few years, several ashen-face, grief-stricken children and adults with tears in their eyes have asked me, “Are there pets in heaven?” Without commenting on whether there is a literal “place” called heaven ~ I ask these seekers of assurance and mercy, “What kind of place could be called “heaven” without pets?”
In Genesis, the only qualification to gain admission to the ark of salvation was not human intelligence or language skills; it was having “the breath of life.” All living creatures were welcome aboard, including Noah and his family’s pets.
Pets may lack the ability to reason and understand in the same way as humans; but they lack not the ability to love. Pets often remain by your side when a human loved one has fled. Hospice pets freely roam from room to room. Visitation animals are brought to memory loss units, where their mere presence often cause patients to rouse and interact with the animals in ways they may not with their human caregivers.
What kind of heaven would heaven be if pets were not allowed? It would be a heaven where there are limits on love. In such a heaven, many of us cannot imagine we would care to reside.
Thank you, Creator God, for making room on your bed for all your human and other creatures to rest in peace.