This is a post in a series looking at kids’ tough questions. It is in no way intended to be all-inclusive or to have all the answers. It is an explanation of how I would answer these questions with my own kids and kids in my ministry. It is also intended to be a conversation starter. Please share your own thoughts and opinions in the comments below. Just be nice please. 🙂
This is a huge, huge question to kids (and even grown-up pet lovers). Several months ago, when I picked up my five year old from her small group I was surprised to see her carrying a moth. A dead moth. I don’t know why anything she does surprises me anymore. When I asked her why she had a dead moth, she replied that she was really worried about if it was going to heaven or not. Since we were at church and I thought it would be great fun, I sent her to ask her Pastor. He did not offer much hope for the moth.
Some classic Christian thinkers seemed to think pets would be in Heaven. Billy Graham is attributed to saying, “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.” Martin Luther was reported as saying, “Be thou comforted, little dog. Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail.”
Those sentiments sound really nice, but the bottom line is that the Bible is not definite and clear.
There Bible indicates that there will be animals in heaven. Isaiah 11:6-9 could refer to a heaven where animals are nice and don’t eat each other. In Revelation 19:11, Jesus returns on a white horse. But the Bible doesn’t tell us that these are individuals’ pets. God doesn’t choose to tell us if my favorite dog, Samantha, is waiting on me in Heaven.
So, how do we answer kids? This is a great example of how we have to balance truth and love.
I usually will tell a child, “You know the Bible doesn’t tell us that. I like to think so and hope so, but we just can’t know for sure.” I think an adamant “no” doesn’t do a child much good, especially since the Bible doesn’t say definitely either way. But we also can’t say “absolutely”.
Based on age and maturity, it would also be good to explain that God loves all of His creation but people are special. People were made in His image. Jesus came and died for people. God cares about people much more than any animals. That is hard for kids to necessarily get because they love animals so much, but it is a very important worldview idea!
So, what do you think? What would you say? What would you not say? Do you know of more Scripture that addresses this more specifically?