The Bible Solves the Cats vs. Dogs Debate

Study in the Scripture has its rich benefits. While studying in the book of Philippians, I have come across some interesting statements concerning dogs that has direct relevance for the cats vs. dogs debate. We have to be biblical people, a people shaped by the text. Here is what the Bible says about dogs. You will shudder at the truth.

Gordon Fee in his commentary on Philippians 3 said:

“This metaphor is full of ‘bite,’ since dogs were zoological ‘low life,’ scavengers that were generally detested by Greco-Roman society and considered unclean by Jews, who sometimes used ‘dog’ to designate Gentiles… A culture that spends millions of dollars on dogs as pets can scarcely appreciate the basic contempt that ancient society had for dogs, who were both scavengers (eating whatever street garbage they could find) and vicious (attacking the weak and helpless). They get nearly universally bad press in the Bible and thus are metaphorically applied to humans only pejoratively (1 Sam. 17:43; 24:14; 2 Sam. 9:8; 16:9; 2 Kings 8:13; Matt. 7:6; 2 Pet. 2:22).”

Vincent’s Word Picture said:

Dogs was a term of reproach among both Greeks and Jews. Homer uses it of both women and men, implying shamelessness in the one, and recklessness in the other. Thus Helen: “Brother-in-law of me, a mischief devising dog” (“Iliad,” vi., 344). Teucer of Hector: “I cannot hit this raging dog” (“Iliad,” viii., 298). Dr. Thomson says of the dogs in oriental towns: “They lie about the streets in such numbers as to render it difficult and often dangerous to pick one’s way over and amongst them – a lean, hungry, and sinister brood. They have no owners, but upon some principle known only to themselves, they combine into gangs, each of which assumes jurisdiction over a particular street; and they attack with the utmost ferocity all canine intruders into their territory. In those contests, and especially during the night, they keep up an incessant barking and howling, such as is rarely heard in any European city. The imprecations of David upon his enemies derive their significance, therefore, from this reference to one of the most odious of oriental annoyances” (“Land and Book,” Central palestine and Phoenicia, 593). See Psa. 59:6; Psa. 22:16. Being unclean animals, dogs were used to denote what was unholy or profane. So Matt. 7:6; Rev. 22:15. The Israelites are forbidden in Deuteronomy to bring the price of a dog into the house of God for any vow: Deut. 23:18. The Gentiles of the Christian era were denominated “dogs” by the Jews, see Matt. 15:26. Paul here retorts upon them their own epithet.

Albert Barnes in his commentary on the book said:

Beware of dogsDogs in the east are mostly without masters; they wander at large in the streets and fields, and feed upon offals, and even upon corpses; compare 1Kings 14:11; 1Kings 16:4; 1Kings 21:19. They are held as unclean, and to call one a dog is a much stronger expression of contempt there than with us; 1Sam. 17:43; 2Kings 8:13. The Jews called the pagan dogs, and the Muslims call Jews and Christians by the same name. The term dog also is used to denote a person that is shameless, impudent, malignant, snarling, dissatisfied, and contentious, and is evidently so employed here. It is possible that the language used here may have been derived from some custom of affixing a caution, on a house that was guarded by a dog, to persons approaching it. Lenfant remarks that at Rome it was common for a dog to lie chained before the door of a house, and that a notice was placed in sight, “Beware of the dog.” The same notice I have seen in this city affixed to the kennel of dogs in front of a bank, that were appointed to guard it. The reference here is, doubtless, to Judaizing teachers, and the idea is, that they were contentious, troublesome, dissatisfied, and would produce disturbance. The strong language which the apostle uses here, shows the sense which he had of the danger arising from their influence. It may be observed, however, that the term dogs is used in ancient writings with great frequency, and even by the most grave speakers. It is employed by the most dignified characters in the Iliad (Boomfield), and the name was given to a whole class of Greek philosophers – the Cynics. It is used in one instance by the Saviour; Matt. 7:6. By the use of the term here, there can be no doubt that the apostle meant to express strong disapprobation of the character and course of the persons referred to, and to warn the Philippians in the most solemn manner against them.

I know if you’re a dog owner…you must be crying bitter tears by now. We have to follow the Bible and get rid of dogs. We don’t want people to think we’re worldy by owning dogs. What about the Gospel!?! Be ye seperate (it says that in the Bible somewhere). Now some may say, the culture has changed to which I reply, “C’mon now…the Word of God never changes!” We’ve got to get rid of all dogs. The Bible just solved all our problems for us (at least those related to this debate). What does the Bible say about cats? Nothing. I take the Bible’s silence as its absolute permission, joy, and celebration of our feline friends. God likely has a pet cat named Mr. Sprinkles. It is the holiest of animals because it tarries before the LORD day and night. Now some may point to the Egyptians owning and worshipping cats back in the day during the time of the Exodus and say “God wasn’t cool with that…he will not share his glory with another.” But, let’s be real. Those cats did not ask to be worshipped. It was not their fault. They lack the ability to speak clear English so could not plainly say “Excuse mister, you should not worship me. You should worship the Lord your God who lives, reigns, and exists in all glory and majesty.” I rest my case. We’ve got to follow the Bible folks. Soli Deo Gloria

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