Creation Care, NT Wright, Faith and Science, Art, Being Human, and More

September 20th, 2008 at 10:40 am

The Recreational Killing of Animals

As a follow up to my piece All Creatures of Our God and King, one reader asked:

“So how would say, hunting or fishing fit into this equation. Are these things helpful? What about doing these simply for sport, like catching a fish or shooting a deer only to be on display?”

My answer…

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your excellent question. Since we see in the Scriptures the obvious delight that God takes in his own creation and  in the wonderful creatures He has made, we need to ask ourselves these questions. Some of this I am going to touch on when I address what our duty as an those He has called and assigned to exercise dominion over His creatures. I will leave a more complete discussion of until later.

We need to remember that permission to kill animals in order to eat their meat was given to man only after the flood, and then it seems as a mercy, to help man in the brutally difficult challenge of surviving in a fallen world. This permission had to do with our body’s physical need for nourishment only. It was about food, and only about food.

And so on a principled level I cannot make a case against the killing animals in order to eat their meat. On could possibly extend this permission to include meeting other basic needs of man.

Hunters and fishermen have done much good in terms of the preservation of undeveloped habitats. For that I am thankful. And on occasion, given the absence of natural predators, it becomes necessary to cull populations of different species to keep them from destroying the environment or facing massive die offs.

However, I see no place whatsoever for the recreational killing of animals. None whatsoever. I think it is a perversion of “dominion” and a revelation of soemthing twisted in the human heart.

There is pleasure in the hunt no doubt. But the pleasure in the kill is usually related somewhere deep down to blood lust. There is a kind of momentary high we get when we kill an animal we have hunted. I suppose there is a release of some sort of brain chemical that provides a rush. It is not dissimilar to the rush we get in sports like football when we make a great hit, or in boxing when we make a head popping hit. I have known all these rushes or pleasures. In sports however, if we’re being careful and following safety precautions, we don’t kill the person or even injure him. So I think of these rough sports as a way to release this pent up aspect of our nature.

When we kill for pleasure and enjoy it we are also reveling in this side of our fallen nature. It’s really about power. The difference as compared to a good hit in football is that the victim of our power rush is dead. Only

We see it in kids as they stomp on ants, and then as they start to shoot birds. My first experience with hunting was with bow and arrow. I would stand on my back porch and shoot frogs in the back yard. Mind you, I maybe only ever hit one or two, but I knew the rush. The had the same rush killing squirrels, and then killing birds.

Thankfully I came to my senses.

So, in short, I think the recreational killing of animals is a perversion. The higher the animal the more the perversion I think, thus the idea of killing a bear for sport is more offensive than killing a swordfish for sport, but I could not draw a hard line anywhere. There may be a good reason for our own safety to eradicate certain insects and spiders from around our house, but that is different than stomping on them for fun.

Back to killing animals for food…

I will speak to this later but I think we have long crossed a line in the manner in which we treat cows, pigs, and chickens for example raised for their meat. Those giant pig farms are not only are environmentally abysmal, but they are an exercise in systemic animal cruelty. Pigs are no less intelligent and relational creatures as dogs or cats. We would be thrown in jail for treating our dogs or cats the way large scale pig farmers treat pigs. It is a hidden tragedy of epic proportion, and I don’t thing God will overlook it in the judgment.

What is required is a changed view of what our role is as human beings vis a vis the animal world. I believe we are to be “kings” and guardian protectors.” We are to “use” animals in the sense of killing them only for our most basic needs. Otherwise we have been assigned the task of taking care of God’s world and guarding the well being of its creatures and its total environment.

But just so you’ll know I have not “arrived” I confess that I still find a certain pleasure in squashing cockroaches.


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  • hugh
    12:11 pm on September 20th, 2008 1

    I plan on hunting for the first time in my life this season. Would you care for some venison?

  • joel
    12:24 pm on September 20th, 2008 2


    Many people hunt deer and eat the meat rather than buy meat at the supermarket. Our deer populations, having no natural predators (just cars and sprawl), have to be kept in check. I have no issue with that. Each person must evaluate if he or she is killing for the fun of killing. I think that is a different thing.

    I like venison.



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