Can Animals Have Compassion?

Question:  Why does the Bible give so little information about the differences between human and animals. Do animals run on instinct or do they have souls. For an animal, the instinct for self preservation has nothing to do with saving another species, sometime putting its own life at risk. Is love an instinct? There are a countless numbers of stories, but the last one I heard was of a whale saving a diver from a shark. Is that not compassion? I’m confused and torn.

Answer:  I suppose the simplest answer is that the Bible was not written to give us knowledge about everything having to do with our existence, but rather about our relationship with God.

It does mention that animals have spirits (Ecclesiastes 3:21–22, Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?).  It reports an incident with Balaam in which his donkey talks to him after being enabled by God to communicate that way to his master (Numbers 22:22-30).

I believe that God gave us the responsibility of “subduing the earth” (Genesis 1:28) and part of that responsibility includes learning what we can about our fellow inhabitants.  Adam seemed to have studied the animals he saw in the garden in order to give them names (Genesis 2:18-20).  You have been learning about animals and their sometimes sacrificial acts on behalf of humans.  That may be an indication that animals can have something more than instinct at work in them.  We’re told in Genesis 3 that the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field.  So perhaps certain animals have abilities that others do not.  Adam and Eve didn’t seem too taken aback by the serpent speaking to them.

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What Does Jesus Mean By Hating Father and Mother?

Question:  Luke 18:26 ….please explain what Jesus said about if we do not hate our mothers, fathers etc. This saying from the Jesus I do not understand.

Answer:  The passage you mention is Luke 18:29–30, And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (ESV).  In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus did not hate his mother but provided for her at his death by committing her to John’s care.  Jesus’ is talking here about our priorities.  Our first priority as Jesus’ disciples must be to follow and love him above all else.  He could not say this if he were not God.  Jesus is calling us to love God above all others because only then will we be able to love our loved ones in the truest way.  So Jesus is speaking in heightened terms here to make the point.  It is intended to shock us into thinking deeply about our most prior commitments.  But he also promises that such commitments will yield reward in the kingdom.

What Does It Mean That a Husband’s Prayers Will Be Hindered?

Question:  Please explain what the bible says about husbands prayers being hindered.

Answer:  The passage in question is 1 Peter 3:7, Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (ESV)

There are many things that can hinder the prayers of both men and women. James talks about our prayers being hindered by wanting what we ask for to “spend it on our passions” (James 4:3).  Sometimes our prayers are hindered by our lack of faith (James 1:5-8) and other times because we are actually using God to get what we want without really seeing Him as the true and only God and Sovereign (Ezekiel 14:1-8).  And sometimes our prayers are hindered because we are dishonoring what God honors.
That is the case when husbands mistreat their wives, when they fail to see their wives as fellow heirs of eternal life and treat them disrespectfully.  This, Peter says, will definitely put a barrier between them and God.  They are treating someone He values and honors in a dishonorable way, and He will discipline them for that.

 

Of course, if a wife treats her husband in a dishonorable way her prayers would also be hindered.  Peter is only focusing on the husband in this way, however, in this letter.