People Aren’t Pets: Resisting the Temptation of Power


Today while waiting in line at the deli, I struck up a conversation with a woman holding a sweet, teacup Yorkie. As I have my own sweet Yorkie, I was happy to talk about her dog and share how much I appreciate my own dog. I’m not the only one–there are many people boasting of their love of animals on social media. Some even go so far as to say that they prefer their dogs to people.

I’ve often thought about this viewpoint, and, while dogs have many admirable traits, our relationship with our pets cannot ever be classified as a truly fair one. This is because in our interactions with pets, we are always in charge. In real relationships, however, there is not, and should not be, that type of power. Relationships that do have that type of control carry a stench of slavery. Any situation, whether it is professional or personal, where a person takes dominion over another can never be good.

Recent revelations have shown how many people in various positions of authority have used this power to manipulate and hurt those beneath them, most specifically women and children. We are unwise, however, to consider that this only occurs with a man lording it over a woman. It can happen in every relationship. In fact, unless we work hard to respect the autonomy of others and ourselves a natural, but unbiblical, hierarchy develops.

Only God Has True Power

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) explains why this must be countered: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” God alone has authority over our lives and our afterlives. In fact, it is this thought—that we are all first accountable to God alone—that creates the strongest platform for freedom. This is because people, no matter how authoritative, must always take second seat to the role of God in an individual’s life. Someone can push and manipulate, but the line must be clear.

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Those who hold true to this in their lives are not taken with the tide of the times. They can stand outside their culture with the timeless perspective of God to evaluate actions. This large view of the world enables them to see how life is more than just this moment. Instead, they see that it is a flowing towards a climactic resolution that will determine those who were truly on the right side of history. It also allows for a consistent love and respect for life. This is because God is the origin of life and alone has authority to determine its limits.

Fight the Temptation of Power

Think now of the relationships in your life. Do you try to bring your will, however well-intentioned, to bear upon the lives of your loved ones? Are there relationships in your own life that show a lack of respect for your own boundaries?

We will all have a bit of both in our lives, but we must all strive to respect that every person is both valuable to God and accountable to Him for their decisions. We can guide, but we cannot control. And we can be guided, but we cannot allow others to take the reins of our lives. Only God has earned that role.

Written by Tatyana Claytor

I am in love with story. As an English teacher, my life is centered around the stories throughout the ages, and, as a believer, my life is centered around the story of all time by the Author of all the ages. I love seeing God's truth all around me and using that to encourage and inspire people to draw closer to Him.

4 thoughts on “People Aren’t Pets: Resisting the Temptation of Power

  1. thanks for the love. your yorkie is gorgeous. please let me know if you want me to post about anything specific. I’m gonna do daniel after I’m done with psalms so it may be a bit of a wait but we’ll get there:) Tatiana is a genius. if I treat people like pets that probably makes me a pest 🙂 so I need to step up and quit living with the regrets of doing that. I treat people like cash machines more than pets. that’s also bad obviously. may God help us all to treat each other better. n love HIm with more passion than I hope we all do already 🙂

    1. It’s a struggle for us all! With the help of God we learn to value every person and to respect their personhood before God.

  2. “Are there relationships in your own life that show a lack of respect for your own boundaries?”

    If you or anyone else is looking for more info on this, Boundaries By Dr. Henry Cloud is a great christian perspective on it. I just read that book this past summer and it’s amazing how we can gradually slip into a relationship (even when unintentional by either party) resembling the situation(s) you are talking about in this blog post.

    Thanks for sharing Tatyana! This is a subject that needs more attention in our day and age with so many things/people/possessions demanding so much of our time/talents/resources. We have to keep our personal health in good working order so we can offer our very best to God and no one else.

    1. I have heard excellent things about that book! I’ve even picked up Boundaries with Teenagers (my kids give me the best education! Lol). I agree this is a topic that needs more discussion—especially as Christians who feel guilty laying boundaries.

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