I’m totally serious in asking this question: Can we Christians anticipate having our pets with us in Heaven, since Heaven is a place of total joy and happiness?
I must admit, as a lover of animals myself, that the question has entered my mind from time to time. And I know Christians who insist that their poodle or whatever pet they love will be with them in eternity. But we are correct in looking at this question Scripturally and objectively, not just sentimentally. Here are some thoughts to consider.
First, it is impossible to know for certain the answer to this question, because we haven’t arrived in Heaven yet. The Bible says only enough about Heaven to indicate to us that it is going to be a fantastic place. We know from Scripture that we will forever enjoy the presence and access of God, Jesus, and fellow believers. There will be total bliss, an absence of sorrow and pain, unparalleled beauty, fullness of knowledge, and divinely appointed responsibilities bringing great blessing (Philippians 1:21, 23). But God has chosen to withhold many details of our eternal abode from us.
Second, God the Son is the One doing the preparing of this place called Heaven. We do not have a say in it (John 14:1–3). (I am not referring to eternal rewards, which depend on our obedience and faithfulness.) Is our hope our pets’ being in Heaven based upon what we want, or is it based on what God has planned for us and what will glorify Him (Revelation 5:12)?
Third, what about all the other belongings people value here on earth besides pets? Some people cherish their cars or Harley-Davidsons; others their antiques; others their personal libraries or computers; still others their furs or china. We could go on and on. Are these items also to be brought to Heaven to make us happy? This mentality can make Heaven quite quickly cluttered with “junque” from earth. The Bible warns about putting too much stock in our things, making idols of material possessions (Matthew 6:19–21; Luke 12:15; John 6:27). Perhaps we need to look forward to better things in Heaven, where “former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). I hope we are not more interested in earthly items than being with our Savior.
Fourth, what about people who have had virtually nothing in this world, as far as material pleasures are concerned? What is going to bring them happiness in Heaven?
I’m sure you are beginning to see the problem. It is possible to be so taken up with what we enjoy here on earth that we feel we would need those things in Heaven. If believers who had unsaved loved ones—human beings!—on earth can be happy in Heaven, surely we do not need soulless pets there either (Revelation 21:4). We need to be sure that we’re not basing our happiness for all eternity, let alone here on earth, upon the temporal. I’ve heard people say they know pets will be in Heaven because it’s a place of happiness, as though that is the only entity that brings them happiness. We need to examine what the Bible says about earthly things as opposed to the things that really matter for all eternity. In all likelihood, the elements of Heaven will make the finest possessions we had on earth seem like nothing in comparison.
On this subject, we should note a trend in society to revere animals above even human life. Some people fight for animal rights while having no compunction whatsoever about aborting a human being. While Bible-believing Christians generally wouldn’t fall to this extreme, we must think seriously and exercise caution in items such as pet cemeteries, funerals for pets, insurance policies for pets, and the like. There is nothing wrong in grieving over a pet that died, but we must not let our love for animals transcend what is proper and right, especially in view of the sanctity of human life and in relationships among human family members.
We should remember our testimony before the unbelieving world so that we don’t indicate to the world that we are falling in step with un-Biblical thinking. We also must be careful not to love our pets more than our children or fellow church members, for example. Unfortunately, there are those who do, as evidenced by their words and actions.
Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.