Thursday, August 5, 2010

In Defense of Cats

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures - Psalm 104:24.

In 2005 I took a group to the Nashville Passion Conference. While there I heard my favorite preacher John Piper speak briefly of his dislike for the smaller cats. He does like the larger ones - lions especially. Yet he has no good affection for the kind that make good pets. He said he does not expect to see them in heaven, due in part to their arrogance.
So following the conference I sent him the note below. I doubt it ever made it to his desk.

I am a bit perplexed by men who do enjoy one kind of God's creatures but not others. I tend to think these men are insecure, in need of a dog to obey their every command, greet them at the door, and lick their faces so that these men feel better about themselves. Dogs are one of the more easily controlled beasts. That, I am sure, appeals to many men.

By the way, my cats do what I tell them. They come when they are called. They also show allegiance and affection, and are always glad when I come through the door. In addition, I have seen one of mine stand on our front steps to stare down three large dogs that wanted on our porch. My cat never flinched - but the dogs did. Cats, along with squirrels and monkeys, are also among earth's greatest athletes, which I admire. To appreciate cats well, you need to know how to relate them. They, like dogs, are pack animals. They thrive when the ranks are well established. And I'm the alpha pack member. They seem pretty happy about that, as my wife and daughter are when I live up to my God-given roles regarding them. This kind of biblical nourishing headship produces good affects upon them, and even upon the beasts for whom God is concerned (Ge 1:26-26; Ex 20:8-11; Pr 12:10; Je 12:1-4; Jon 4:11).

Hello Dr. Piper – I simply must say that your statement on cats at the recent Passion 05 conference was not accurate. I realize it was said in a good spirit of light-heartedness and that is how I received it. However, I have been thinking about it a little. Every reason you gave for disliking cats is a reason I prefer cats.

Cats are not arrogant. They simply don’t need you. Dogs (I have a big one – Deacon), for example, need you to show affection to them, and feed them. That might be why you can step on them and they simply say “thank you”. But cats are not so needy. If you determine not to pet your cat today he will be just fine. And if you determine not to feed him today, he’ll just go outside, tear the head off of a bird, and eat its entrails.

However, if you do determine to feed your cat today, he will still go outside and tear the head off of a bird. But he will not eat the entrails. He’ll take the carcass in his mouth, bring it inside the house and lay it at your feet. This is exactly what happened with my cat and my wife while I was away in Nashville listening to you preach. My wife Marian wakes up one morning to find a love gift at the foot of the bed. This sort of thing happens regularly (I have 3 cats). The cat doesn’t need to kill, he’s eaten. But he kills anyway – for you. Therefore I say the love of a cat is a purer love.

So maybe there will be little cats in heaven with the big lions. Maybe they point us to God by reminding us that He doesn’t need us either, but would certainly kill to make us happy.

See you at the Bethlehem Conference,

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