I am going through a personal study of 1 Corinthians. Each morning I read a portion of the book as well as commentary from The Message of First Corinthians by David Prior. I then listen to the podcasted sermons of Mark Driscoll from when he taught through the book in 2006. I recently became aware that Covenant Life Church (Josh Harris) had been going through the book as well, so I just started listening to his exposition.
Both Mr. Harris and Mr. Driscoll began their messages off by saying something to the effect of "now for something that is a burning question in your mind - food offered to idols..." (here is a link to the passage). They both continue by using examples of questions that some Christians have about tattoos, going to movies, drinking alcohol, and the like. Dr. Prior in his commentary briefly mentioned something about the food offered to the idols being "prepared in the wrong way". What also got my mind thinking was Serve God Save the Planet, a book I have recently read and reviewed that speaks to conservation and environmentalism.
Dr. Sleeth (Serve God...) spoke about chicken farms he visited and other food manufacturing places where the animals were all but tortured before they were slaughtered as food for you and me.
I have to say, I have rarely, if ever, given this thought. But, in light of 1 Corinthians 8, maybe it is something that Jesus would have us think about (in light of the grace with which Paul speaks in the passage). We have been given dominion over the earth by God, and that is a stewardship, not a dictatorship. I literally did not want to eat chicken after reading about the farms raising them for our consumption. I have driven up the I-5 in California and seen (and smelled!) the enormous cow pens where cows are shoulder to shoulder and can barely move. What kind of stewardship is that? Can 1 Corinthians 8 speak to this? I believe so.
Maybe it's time that Christians become the weirdos who are environmentalists and concerned about the ethical treatment of animals - those who will be eaten and those who just exist to give God glory.
My dad always used to say when we were growing up that we should taken very good care of our pets, because this is the only heaven they will get. As far as pets being in heaven, that is a topic for another time, but either way, animals are in our stewardship and it is our job and duty as Christians to make sure that they are treated ethically.