Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is Owning A Dog A Sin?

I was recently asked this question, so I figured it was a good blog topic.

The answer is "no" and "yes", depending upon the circumstances.

Fanatics see sins where there is no sin: Environmental wackos, animal rights nutcases, IslamoNazi's, some ultra-conservative Christians I have met, find the mere ownership of a dog to be a sin. Then, there are other types of people, such as drug dealers, who turn dogs into vicious killing machines, and thus, turn their ownership into something evil.

If we are talking "sin", then we should consider the religion. Clearly, Islam does allow the ownership of dogs. Similarly, you can't find anywhere in the Bible where dog ownership is considered a sin.

Consider this... what makes a person "unclean"? What makes something into a sin? Isn't it those things that corrupt the heart, and then the resulting choices people make to harm themselves or others? What is spirituality all about? It's not those things about you that make you a "sinner". It's what you do with those things that defile you. It's not clothes, or music, or makeup, certain foods, your haircut, or dogs. It's the reasons why people get certain types of these things and what they do with them, and how it harms them and others, that makes these items turn from something neutral into something "sinful", right?

You can find these types of issues affecting a variety of realms.

Gun ownership comes to mind. We've heard the saying: Guns don't kill people, people kill people. And that's true. It isn't the gun that causes the crime, it's the gun in the hands of the person, that chose to do immoral things with that gun, that makes it a crime. Otherwise, a gun in the hands of a police officer would compel the officer to murder someone, just by the virtue of having that gun touching his or her skin. That's just silly stuff. And having a dog doesn't therefore make you an evil person. Why you got that dog, and what you do with that dog, determines whether you are doing something good or bad. Is a guide dog an evil thing? No. Does owning a guide dog and using it to help you cross the street make you evil, or does it harm others, or does it offend God? No. Does owning a pit bull turn you into an evil person? No. Does being a drug dealer, and making a pit bull vicious by abuse and neglect so that it attacks an innocent person make the person evil? Yes. It's not the dog or the breed, it is why you got the dog and what you do with the dog.

So, if this question of sin bothers you, then ask yourself: why am I getting a dog? If the reason is a good, then there is no sin. If the reason is an evil one, then don't get the dog.

There is a good reason to read religious texts, because you will gain wisdom from them:

"Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' " -- Mark 7:18-23

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