Note: If deep theological questions may push you towards a crisis of faith, then I wouldn't advise reading this. Please no haters or flame wars or mocking... I am just searching for answers to my own profound strugglings with the issue. I welcome answers from all religions and theological/ideological positions but am primarily seeking answers from those who are very familiar with the Bible(Torah, Haftorah, Brit Chadeshah) - so Christians, Jews, etc. Maybe even refer me to some pastors, scholars, or theologians you know of! Below are two paragraphs of introduction, and then some in depth theological/moral questions. Even if you don't have time to read through both questions, as the second one is rather lengthy, please AT LEAST read and reply to the first question marked CLOTHING, which is only 3 paragraphs long.
I was raised as a Protestant Christian. After watching a number of documentaries and reading a number of books - most notably Earthlings, Food Inc, Fast Food Nation, The Emotional Lives of Farm Animals, The Face on Your Plate, and The Food Revolution - I became a vegan and committed to the animal rights movement. I did so based on the things which I believed I had been taught by my religion: love, compassion, care for the lives of others, morality, a sense of right vs wrong, a conscience, a sense of personal responsibility for the effects of my actions.
And yet, these same traits of conscience, morality, and compassion which supposedly came about due to the Bible, have caused me to question and disagree with many of the things in the Bible. The ultimate paradox! I am now left with a feeling of utter confusion and bewilderment in regards to the conflict between my beliefs and ideology vs. my faith. I have found that the faith which now most closely resembles my beliefs is Jainism; yet, I cannot adopt it as a religion since I don't believe in it's theological theories about the origin of the world, the afterlife, karma, etc, and I cannot wrangle my mind into adopting their views on these matter as logical. So theologically, my beliefs on those issues are still Protestant, yet I cannot wrangle my mind into accepting the Bible's views on diet or animal rights or God's treatment of the animal kingdom throughout the Bible! So I am having a huge crisis of faith, where I believe my religion's theology on the path to redemption, the purpose of man, the afterlife, etc, yet I find many of the aspects of my religion morally repugnant, unethical, and utterly opposite to my ideology, beliefs, and conscience, reason, and logic. Is my own conscience wrong? God supposedly gave us the power of reason, rationality, questioning, and thought - then why would his scriptures not stand up to analysis by these powers of mind which he endowed us with? I have heard from various Christian vegans that the Bible actually supports veganism and animal rights, but I must be missing something because I can't seem to find that. I'm not asking for people to tell me to simply abandon my faith, I'm looking for someone to EXPLAIN to me the things I don't understand. Here are the things which bother me the most...
------ Why, after Adam and Eve fell, and became 'aware' of their nakedness, did God cloth them with the skin of animals? This would make God, rather than fallen man, the very first one in history to kill an animal, the very first one to commit an act of violence against another living being. Cain was not the first one to shed blood or cause the death of another living being, God was.
Why did he not make them clothing out of any of the multitudinous natural plant resources available - cotton, hemp, pineapple fiber, soybean/corn fiber, or the many other plant fiber clothings which have been used by various civilizations over thousands of years? Technically, he would not have had to do any work or processing to make these clothes; if he was capable of creating the universe by the 'word of his mouth' and all sentient beings from the 'dust of the ground', then he should have been perfectly capable of creating fully finished and functional clothing by speaking it into place or merely taking a plant and breathing on it. For that matter, if he was capable of creating the vastly complex human body, it would have been well within his power to create Goretex or any other technologically advanced clothing from scratch. Since science still cannot fully approximate the functions of the human body, even through advanced prosthetics, etc, then it stands to reason that He could have created clothing BETTER than anything humans are able to come up with. Why would he rely on something as utterly crude and primitive as animal skins? He could have created clothing that was its own biological entity, just as humans, animals, and plants are unique entities within the universe - he could have created breathable, waterproof, sunprotective, flexible, bodyhugging, comfortable, light, extremely durable clothing from scratch. He could have made it self healing if he wanted to, like human skin. He could have made it color-adaptable, like a chameleon's skin. He could have done anything, if he is the Creator. Why could he not CREATE clothing, rather than have to rape nature to make it? Further, why was man the only sentient being created whose body did not contain the capability to protect itself from the harsh environment outside the Garden of Eden. All the other sentient beings were created equipped with EVERYTHING they needed to survive. They didn't need clothing or protection, it was built in - tough hides, feathers, scales, fur, plate armor, your name it. It protected them from the cold, the sun, other animals, and whatever environment they lived in, whether water, mud, sawgrass marsh, jungle, etc. Why were humans made to even need clothing at all?
I think of the vegan slogan 'Wear your own skin' and wonder why God even came up with the horrifying idea of flaying a living being for clothing in the first place. It was HIS idea... and yet he is supposed to be perfect, holy, and capable of no evil. So how was this thought, this gory idea, even able to enter his head in the first place? In the original Hebrew of the old Testament (the Torah and Haftorah), no semantic distinction is made between an animal and a human; both are called 'living souls'. If God decided to go so far as to kill one living soul, what's the line that kept him from not just killing Eve, and giving her skin to Adam to wear? What made taking an innocent animal from the Garden of Eden and flaying it okay? How did he kill the animal - just walk into the Garden of Eden and strike it dead? What did he skin it with - his bare hands or the 'word of his mouth'? Or was he the first on to invent a skinning knife - uggh? It DOESN'T make sense to me.
CAIN AND ABEL
------- The first murder of another human being was precipitated by a conflict over animal sacrifice. Abel, a shepherd, would slaughter all the 'firstlings' - the first newborn lamb crop of his flock - as an offering to God. This offering found respect with God, even though it says nowhere in Genesis that God had specifically asked for animal sacrifice - the account makes it out to be Abel's idea. Cain, who was a gardener/produce farmer, brought the 'fruit of the ground' as an offering to God - by which it is inferred to mean his first vegetable/plant crop. So, both of them were taking the first crop of their own farming endeavors, and offering them to God. Yet it says God had no respect for Cain and his offering. So right here we have the fact that without having explicitly made any commandments on the subject thus far, at least no commandment that is referenced in the Bible, God automatically shows preference for the bloodletting and death of animals as an acceptable offering when presented with the two options. In Jainism, plants are considered one-sensed beings