Problem: Genesis 1:28 states, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (ESV). Animal rights advocates argue that Christians use this verse to justify cruelty to animals. Is this the case?
Solution: Of course, so-called Christians have used the Bible inappropriately to justify much cruelty. But we shouldn’t ask if the Bible has been used to justify cruelty, but instead, does the Bible teach cruelty. This passage doesn’t teach that humans should be cruel to animals or the planet, but that we should be stewards of it. In fact, at the end of human history, God will judge people based on how they treat the Earth. John writes, “The time came for the dead to be judged… to destroy those who destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18). Moreover, Solomon writes, “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal” (Prov. 12:10).
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Gen 1:28)”