Return to About Mormons home
by Sandra Bradford Packard
Latter-day Saints believe that animals, like humans, have spirits, in the form of their bodies (D&C 77:2). Like humans and plants, animals were created first as spirits in heaven and then physically on the earth (Moses 3:5). Mortal and subject to death, animals will be saved through the Atonement of Christ (TPJS, pp. 291-92). Humans and animals will eventually live in peace on this earth (Isa. 11:6-9; 2 Ne. 30:12-15; D&C 101:24-26). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that animals will be found in heaven, in myriad forms, from myriad worlds, enjoying eternal felicity, and praising God in languages God understands (TPJS, pp. 291-92).
Animals, like other "good things which come of the earth are made for the benefit and the use of man," but are "to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion" (D&C 59:16-20). God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the animals (Gen. 1:28), but legitimate dominion is neither coercive nor exploitive (D&C 121:34-46). He sanctions the eating of animal flesh but forbids its waste (Gen. 9:2-5; D&C 49:18-21). The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) cautions, "Surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands" (JST Gen. 9:11).
Destroying animal life merely for sport has been strongly criticized by several Latter-day Saint leaders, including Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Spencer W. Kimball. Lorenzo Snow called it a "murderous amusement."
When the Prophet Joseph Smith saw his associates about to kill three rattlesnakes at their campsite, he said, "Let them alonedon't hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose its venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless before the brute creation, and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety" (TPJS, p. 71).
Heber C. Kimball criticized the use of spurs and whips, saying, "[Horses] have the same life in them that you have, and we should not hurt them" (JD 5:137). Brigham Young called neglect of livestock a "great sin" (JD 12:218). So far, no authoritative Church statement on the use of animals in medical research and product testing is available.
Jones, Gerald E. "The Gospel and Animals." Ensign 2 (Aug. 1972):62-65.
Kimball, Spencer W. "Fundamental Principles to Ponder and Live." Ensign 8 (Nov. 1978):43-46.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol. 4, pp. 42-47. Salt Lake City, 1963.
Snow, Lorenzo. Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, Williams, Clyde J., comp., pp. 188-89. Salt Lake City, 1984.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Animals
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
All About Mormons