Slaughtering chickens is not quite as traumatic as slaughtering pigs. They are birds instead of mammals, and they are small and don’t bleed as much. We never shielded the boys from these things. They needed to understand where our food came from. I think there are some city people who must think meat is left in the meat markets in the night by elves the way they go on about the cruelty of ranchers and hunters. When you understand where it comes from, you respect the animals and appreciate them much more than you would otherwise. Both of our boys love animals and treat them kindly but they are strong-minded enough to understand necessity too.
Lucas learned that respect in a more difficult way than we intended. When it was time to put down a pig, Keith got up early, killed the animal and bled him as quickly as possible, and then loaded it on the trailer for the trip to the butcher. Three hundred pounds of dead weight meant he needed help.
When Lucas was finally big enough to actually help load, he went out with his dad to the pigpen and soberly watched the proceedings. Mindful of the effect it might have on him, Keith quickly poured sand on the blood. Then he backed the truck and trailer over to the pigpen gate and Lucas crawled in on the other side to help load the pig—stepping right into that camouflaged pool of blood. It rose around his ankles, warm and sticky. After his dad left for the butcher, he came in to wash his feet, a little green around the gills and pale as a ghost. He really understood the sacrifice that pig had made to feed our family.
I suppose that is why the Lord intended for us to have a weekly reminder of the sacrifice he made for us, in all its gore. Too often in asking forgiveness we are like the city folks buying meat at the grocery store, not really understanding all that made that purchase possible. We need to come to grips with the fact that our actions caused a death, a particularly horrible death. Even more than that, we are the reason for it yet again every time we sin. The way we treat our failings as something to laugh about or shrug off as trivial, we probably need to stand beneath that cross and step ankle deep in the still warm blood of Jesus to jolt us back into reality.
Sin is just as horrible as slaughter. In fact, it caused a slaughter which will prevent another one, but not if we don’t have enough appreciation for it to make ourselves do better.
He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth…Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. Isa 53:5-7,10