Dean Ohlman, whose post "The Birdslayer" we shared a few days ago, shares some additional perspective and valuable guidelines for our brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to hunt in good conscience before God ...
Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD” (Genesis 10:8-9).
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal" (Genesis 9:1-5, both passages Today's New International Version).
If you want to start a ruckus, ask the question, “Should Christians hunt” in a rural church in the fall. Or you could write an article titled “Would Jesus Shoot a Ten-point Buck” in Christian college magazine in Michigan that arrives in homes in the middle of November—which is what I did. Man, talk about backfire! I was the editor of the magazine, so it was my decision—or “my fault” according to many.
The truth is that my article was not written in opposition to hunting; it was about my own personal decision to stop hunting, which I had done since I was 10. I stopped hunting when I was 52 because my interest in the outdoors had changed from utilitarian to appreciation, our family was financially strapped (supermarket meat being much cheaper than what venison ultimately costs), and I simply had a problem with hunting for sport and/or trophies.
Also at that point I had become active in the creation-care movement and was having difficulty justifying hunting biblically. But my views have changed somewhat since that time, and I find that if I had the heart for it, I could probably begin hunting again. Hunters and fishermen, in fact, are some of the most ardent supporters of creation care, of habitat restoration, and sound environmental regulation. Groups like Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and the Isaac Walton League have donated millions for wilderness preservation and natural resource conservation.
Deer hunting in Michigan, in fact, is pretty much a necessity: there are virtually no natural predators, deer diseases can be transmitted to livestock, the state typically has over 60,000 car-deer collisions each year (our Kent County usually has the most), and deer in over-abundance do damage crops and often negatively impact forest health. That’s one reason that the fall deer hunt is called “harvesting.” Total anti-hunters and some vegans and vegetarians rankle at the use of the term “harvest” for the shooting of living creatures.
I have to confess that the word is still a bit bothersome for me. But because the Michigan Department of Natural Resources deliberately manages the deer herd for maximum hunting benefits, deer must be hunted. Further, about 75% of the DNR budget comes from the licensing of Michigan’s 750,000 deer hunters, and the economic value of hunter spending in Michigan is over $500 million. Discussions on this issue are virtually endless—whether on its ethics, economics, or ecology.
Assessing hunting biblically/theologically is just about as fruitless and contentious as debating the sovereignty of God/free will of man question. The heat generated by advocating for one side of the argument could keep an average northern Midwest home warm all winter; so I as a vacillating (cowardly?) fence-sitter won’t even attempt it! But to throw part of the issue into the ring for discussion, let me conclude with a list of hunting ethics for Christians that I suggested in my notorious hunting article:
Suggested Hunting Ethics for Christians
1. As in all areas involving ethics and behavior, think biblically why you are hunting.
2. Through prayer and careful contemplation, seek God’s guidance in your decision-making about hunting. Ask, “What would Jesus do?”
3. If you feel any conviction against it, don’t hunt. (Romans 14:23)
4. Recognize that killing animals is probably not “good”; though it is sometimes necessary.
5. Recognize that increasing your understanding and appreciation of God’s creation handiwork is an important part of hunting.
6. Avoid hunting addiction. Far too many men neglect their families and their family’s financial needs by spending too much time and money on hunting as a “sport” (a concept not found in the Scriptures.)
7. Know your place in the game management plan.
8. Obey the game laws.
9. Improve your shooting skills to ensure clean and quick kills. Do not cause undue suffering.
10. Do not shoot anything unless you know exactly what you are shooting and why you are shooting it.
11. Do not waste animal meat products.
12. Do not let the “macho” image or bragging rights be your motivation.
13. Do not hunt while you are impaired physically by illness, drugs, or alcohol.
14. Do not trash the wilderness. Try to leave it improved by your presence.
15. Support sound conservation programs and sensible environmental evaluations of game management policies.
Final questions: I am the image-bearer of the God who notes the death of a sparrow. Can the one who bears the image of the Creator purposely kill what the Creator has made without a deep sense of remorse and constant sense of grief over the entrance of sin upon the earth? In other words, if one really likes killing animals, is it quite possible that such enjoyment indicates that it is being done from the wrong motivation?
(many thanks to Dean, a regular and valued contributor, for sharing this, originally posted as "Christians and Hunting" at The Wonder of Creation; photos credit Bruce MacQueen and David Gallaher/123rf.com)