Do Pets Go to Heaven?
This question is a bone chewed on by many pet lovers. Did you know half of all U.S. homes have a pet? Some 80% of Americans believe that when they die they will go to Heaven. And their pets? 43% believe they’re going to Heaven as well! (2004 ABCNews/Beliefnet Poll, Gallup Poll)
But, is that biblically true? Why, theologians for years have been chasing their tails over this topic. Whole books have been written on the subject.
Their conclusion? Well, honestly, they have to admit they just don’t know. The eternal fate of animals is a question the Bible just doesn’t answer directly. The Bible, after all, centers on human redemption. But, it does provide a few hints we can look at concerning the eternal fate of animals.
Before we look at those hints, though, we’ve got to be fair and expand our scope from pets to all animals. That would also include insects, microorganisms, mollusks and non-oxygen breathing creatures. Just because we make an animal a pet does not grant it an exclusive status over the rest of the animal kingdom.
Do Animals Have Eternal Souls?
The author of Ecclesiastes asked this very question, but he had no answer (Ecclesiastes 3:18-21).
Genesis tells us that during the Creation God formed all creatures out of the dust of the earth and gave them life. He called what He made “very good.”
God loves what He has created, but He loves and values people the most (Matthew 6:26; Luke 12:6). Genesis reveals mankind is special, made in the very image of God, with God’s own Spirit breathed into us. Therefore, humans have been given eternal souls that outlast our bodies, but for animals, it appears not. Mankind was granted dominion over the animal world, and animals as our food source.
Do Animals Need Salvation?
When Adam and Eve rebelled against God by eating the forbidden fruit, the sin nature was birthed in all of humanity. True, the animals never joined in man’s sin, but man was put in charge, and so God cursed both humans and the earth as punishment. All of creation fell under a death sentence (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:20).
The only way to escape eternal death has been offered by Jesus Christ to mankind alone (Romans 5:18-19). Salvation of the soul is, after all, only for those who actually have a soul. But, the Creation eagerly awaits to be released from the Curse (Romans 8:18-25). At that future time Jesus will make, as He said, “all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Now, does that “new” mean every creature that ever died under the Curse will be resurrected, or just the Creation will be made perfect again after the Curse is lifted? Well, that’s up to interpretation.
What About the Lion and the Lamb?
The book of Isaiah describes wolves lying down with lambs, calves and lions and bears grazing together, and little kids playing with vipers. Isn’t that a scene from Heaven? No, in context, that pastoral scene refers to Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom.
Actually, in the scant two chapters the Bible dedicates solely to the Eternal State — Revelation 21-22 — animals are not even mentioned. In descriptions of Heaven, Revelation does describe four Living Creatures who look part animal. These aren’t animals, though, but seraphim, a special class of angels who worship before God’s throne. And, Jesus, He’s also described as riding a white horse, but since it flies, it might just be an angel as well.
Will Animals Be Raptured?
The Apostle Paul taught that when Christians are raptured up to Heaven by Jesus Christ, the Rapture is for the Church alone. That means our pets won’t also be flying up to Heaven with us.
And those unsaved people left behind who face the Tribulation? They still eat, and animals are described as suffering during that time period, so animals must have been left behind as well. By the way, if you’re worried about your pet being left behind, make preparations now.
Having not just our pets, but every bird, fish, insect, plankton, microbe, and whatnot that has ever existed throughout all of time, all living up in Heaven and the New Earth together, makes for some very problematic scenarios.
- Does anybody really want to take care of every cat, dog, bird, hamster, fish and snake we ever owned all at the same time for all of eternity?
- Would you really want to scoop the poop for all those animals with never an end in sight?
- If you really didn’t want to take care of all those pets, are there homeless shelters in Heaven?
- Would it even be Heaven if hundreds of yippy dogs were barking in the back yard of the mansion next door?
- What do you do when you meet up with an animal you once ate?
- And, if pets go to Heaven, are there also pets that go to Hell?
What we know about our pets going to Heaven can be summed up in one verse, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know…” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We just won’t have a definitive answer until we get to Heaven. But, while the Bible pretty much indicates that our earthly pets will not be waiting for us, surely new animal friends await us in Heaven.
As for me, make mine a dinosaur!