Don’t you know that homosexuality is natural? Surely you must be aware that same-sex behavior involving courtship and pair-bonding has been observed in hundreds of species of animals?
California’s Proposition 47 ensures that a career criminal (Sorry, I forgot that San Francisco prohibits that term in favor of “justice-involved-individual”) who steals money or property suffers virtually no consequences as long as the total value of his daily theft is less than $950. A journalist with whom I was discussing this wholesale eviction of moral principles explained, “Rabbi, you probably don’t know that hundreds of animals from whales to squirrels take things from other creatures and nobody brands them as criminals and thieves.”
Here is another one. Marriage is unnatural. Expecting two people to commit legally to remain together for today’s longer lifespans is crazy. Maybe it made sense during earlier agrarian days and when life was more perilous but today it’s just unnatural. Almost no animal mates for life and neither should we. It ought to be harder to get into marriage and easier to get out.
Each of the above three arguments has really been made. Many times. In many places such as magazines, media, books, university courses and by social pundits, professors, and commentators. All three arguments depend upon one underlying assumption. They are all built on the equation making people equivalent to animals. Or to put it more scientifically, people are just one more species on the vast spectrum of animal life on this planet. Since homosexuality, theft, and casual mating are common among animals, they ought to be common among people too. All attempts to discourage these behaviors should be stopped as these activities are perfectly normal and perfectly natural. Among animals, that is to say. Thus, family life, social stability and economic security slowly erode and thus civilization quietly dies.
Though wildly unpopular, the correct answer to each of the above three arguments is, “So what?” That’s right. So what if animals do these things? We aren’t animals, we are human beings touched by the finger of God. We humans don’t do those things. We may occasionally slip up but we certainly don’t celebrate those behaviors. We don’t even normalize them.
Let us note that civilization grew up around the Bible and that the countries and societies to which the world’s desperate individuals flock in hope are precisely those places shaped by Judeo-Christian Biblical values. One of the most important innovations that Moses bequeathed to the civilized world when he descended from Mt. Sinai was that people were a distinct and unique species. It was a shockingly new piece of information to most people back then and it is no less controversial today, that animals and humans are as different from one another as is a Tel Aviv falafel street stand from Maxim’s restaurant in Paris. It is true that both are places for relieving hunger and, yes, both animals and people breathe oxygen, but that is where the resemblance ends.
The first chapter in Genesis paints a mainly physical picture of life on earth. And through that biological lens, people do share similarities with lions, lemurs, and llamas. We all breathe, eat, require water, reproduce sexually, and die. It describes creatures in ascending order of biological complexity, starting with simple sea animals and ending with humans.
Chapter two, on the other hand, views Creation through a spiritual lens, naturally making a massive distinction between people and animals, describing them in order of moral significance. First humans in verse 7 then animals in verse 19. Moreover, the difference between male animals and female animals is ignored in chapter two just as it is in chapter one—they’re animals. But no fewer than seven verses of the second chapter are devoted to discussing the differences between men and women.
But does chapter one really ignore the differences between people and animals? Let’s find out by comparing four consecutive verses:
1) God made wild beasts of every kind and cattle of every kind, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. And God saw that this was good.
2) And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.”
3) And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
4) God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.”
One verse covers the entire description of God creating animals. When creating mankind, God devoted three entire verses which yield much information that changed the history of civilization among those nations that had access to them.
First, we see that creating humans was a collaborative undertaking. God actually included man in his own creation when He said, “Let us make…”. This teaches us that we may not view ourselves as passive victims of outside vectors over which we have no control. We are responsible for making, improving and developing ourselves each and every day. We are partners of the Almighty in our own creation and daily renewal.
Second, no other creatures were given dominion over any others. Bears were not elevated over wolves. Human beings, however, were directed to master the world and all it contains. We are not animals; we are morally superior to animals and we are to master them. For instance, we own our animals, we are not their ‘guardians’.
Third, only we were purposefully created as male and female. Our maleness and femaleness were part of God’s plan from the beginning in a way quite different from animals whose gender differences are not worth mentioning.
Fourth, unlike animals, we are created in God’s image. This places enormous responsibility upon each of us to live up to that. When you wear the uniform of your country’s army you can’t behave just as you might when you’re dressed in anonymous jeans and a T-shirt. You’re identifiable as a representative of your army and have to behave appropriately. We humans are identifiable as being in the image of our Creator and are under an obligation to behave accordingly.
Finally, only we humans are especially blessed by God after He created us.
It is therefore as clear as could be that in both the first two chapters of the Bible, considerable emphasis is placed on distinguishing between people and animals. What animals do and how they behave is utterly irrelevant to how God expects us to behave. No, people are most decidedly not animals. Civilization came into being largely because of this paramount principle and it continues to exist only for as long as we maintain this vital distinction.