Often, Christians will say that they believe, or at least want to believe, that their dead beloved pets will meet them in heaven. This is an understandable sentiment. If there is a heaven then why shouldn’t beloved pets go there? When the topic comes up among Christian friends, it is not really treated seriously. It is more of a hope than a serious doctrinal position.
The concept that animals will go to heaven is at its core a form of universalism. No Christian theology that I am aware of actually allows for this. But in love, the Christian owner hopes that their animal will be waiting for them on the other side.
My question is this: where is that love for everyone else? The same people that want their pets to go to heaven will not stand for any sort of universalist teaching that all mankind will end up in heaven. Of course, most Christians will say that they do wish everyone would be saved, in the end, but that Scripture does not teach that. Scripture does not say pets will go to heaven, but that doesn’t stop them from agreeing that their beloved pet SHOULD go to heaven. However, those unbelievers shouldn’t go to heaven? How is it that, given Scripture, the door is left open for one and closed for the other? Christ didn’t die for the animals.
Of course, there are many and varied doctrinal caveats to be considered—the discussion there is endless. The point is that Christians do not extend their hope and love very far. Some of the same Christians who want their pets to get to heaven have no compunction about unleashing scorn and contempt on other Christians and denominations who do not agree with them. They have no problem restricting the civil liberties of other religions, people of other sexual orientations, women and minorities, etc. They get past their doctrine with their pets but are willing to condemn actual people.
Maybe this is sort of what Christ meant about not judging. What if God were to judge fundamentalists by their doctrine, Episcopalians by their doctrine, Catholics by their doctrine, etc.? What a fearful time for some. You would tell the hypocrites because they wouldn’t be ready for that kind of judgment. Christ literally spent his life fighting back against Pharisees and their heaping mounds of harsh and exacting doctrine. Maybe Christ is telling Christians to back off a little bit and adopt an outlook of hope and love rather than someone’s statement of faith. It is certainly a better philosophy to be judged by.