Killing For Sport
Should Christians kill animals for sport?
First, I will say up front what I do not oppose. I do not oppose hunting (or raising livestock, or otherwise dispatching) an animal
1) For food
2) For materials (clothing, tools, medicine, etc.)
3) For management purposes (predator control, population control)
4) For protection of self, others, or property
“Greenies”, “animal huggers”, or vegans that claim that all hunting is heartless and barbaric have no biblical basis for their claims.
I do not believe that wild animals
1) are defenseless
2) have the same value as humans
3) have “rights”
But what I do believe is that animals are a part of God’s creation and that the motivation for the killing of anything matters.
What I believe is morally wrong is killing for sport, that is – for the mere enjoyment of killing the animal so someone can take a picture with it, hang it on his wall, or to help him to promote or sell products. To me, this is disrespectful to the Creator and to these creatures. That’s not to say that a person going hunting for reasons listed above cannot enjoy his experience or cannot take a picture or keep parts of the animal as a memorial, but killing for the sake of killing, or to commercialize killing, just so one can have a trophy, does not line up with God’s stated purposes in his Word when it comes to taking the lives of animals. It is evident in the scriptures that the Lord cares for the lives of his animal creatures, even though he has authorized us to use them for food (Genesis 9:3) and other reasons.
Notice some of the Bible’s statements that pertain to the lives of animals:
Proverbs 12:10 - A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
Deuteronomy 25:4 - Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
Exodus 23:5 - If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
Proverbs 12:27 - The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.
Psalms 50:10-11 - For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
These are a few verses that show that God is not uncaring when it comes to the animals, which leads to the conclusion that he is not uncaring when it comes to mankind’s stewardship of the animals. Don’t just listen to me though. I can share statements from others.
On a chat forum, a man said this:
“People who kill animals purely to watch them die are not hunters at all. They are just people killing animals.”
Another man said:
“People who kill animals for fun without understanding of the life they take are just as bad as the “road warriors” that drive around with a loaded rifle looking for an easy target.” (sic)
A fifth-generation trapper and sustenance hunter said:
“…..I despise sport and trophy hunting. I mean sure, if I'm deer hunting and a 10point walks into a clean shot, it's a bonus that will end up walled!...."
At thefirearms.guide, the writer of an article, who is an advocate for hunting (yet seemed inconsistent in his use of the word "sport" in his article) condemned hunting for sport in the comment section:
“I do not endorse or even condone hunting simply for the sport of it. Killing another living thing because it is fun (is) not sporting or even ethical in my opinion.”
He also said:
“….Nowhere in the article does it suggest that simply hunting for sport is a good thing. On the contrary, hunting for the sport – or fun – of it, in my opinion is wrong and (reckless). If a human being is going to kill an animal not intending to either consume it, sell it or share it as a food source – I believe they are disrespectful of nature in general and the very animal they hunt. This article endorses hunting for food – period.”
“If you’re going to kill an animal to hang it on your wall or stuff it and put it on your coffee table, I DO NOT support that.” (Source)
I would expand the allowable reasons for killing an animal somewhat (again, see above), but I agree with this man that killing for the fun of it is disrespectful.
Now, some will justify sport or trophy hunting by pointing to the fact that the meat is always given to someone else (less fortunate) for them to eat. Whether this is true or not doesn’t alter the point about the motivation of the one killing the animal. If someone pays $10k to fly to Africa to kill a giraffe, for example, they may try to make the killing more palatable (to themselves and others) by saying none of the animal gets wasted, it all goes to the natives, but feeding the poor is not their motivation. If feeding the poor was their motivation, they could have done much better for them with that $10k than doing them the “favor” of giving them their downed animal that was killed for amusement.
John Daniel Davidson, a senior editor at The Federalist had this to say:
“Killing For Fun, Or a Wall Decoration, Is Ignoble and Small…
…..It’s the same for large game like moose and bear. Alaskans go to great lengths to find and shoot these animals, sometimes spending weeks in remote mountains and forests. If they’re successful, they might mount a moose rack or hang a bear hide on the wall, but the animals are almost always eaten. For moose in particular, subsistence is the primary reason for the hunt. For a family, bagging a moose can provide a year’s worth of red meat at a fraction of what it would cost to buy beef in the grocery store.
However, if the primary reason is merely to mount a rack or hang a hide, it would be difficult to justify taking these animals. Killing a wild animal for fun is no less ignoble than killing a pigeon or a feral cat for fun. It belies an imbalanced view of the world, and one’s self, and indulges a lust for violence that’s unhealthy. For Christians in particular, trophy hunting shows a lack of reverence and respect for creation, and it undermines our God-given role as stewards of the earth.
Note what I’m not saying. I’m not saying trophy hunting is wrong because wild animals are “defenseless” (they’re not). Nor am I saying it’s wrong because people shouldn’t eat animals (they should, animals are delicious). I’m saying that there’s something shameful and small about killing a wild animal just to mount its head on your wall.”
(Click here for full article.)
Here are a few more voices chiming in on chat forums:
“…a distinction must be made between ‘needed’ hunting for the purpose of the control of wildlife and the acquisition of food, and trophies hunting for ‘fun’ and ‘entertainment.” (sic)
From a Christian forum:
“Hunting animals for food is OK (as ordained by God in Genesis) and killing animals for self-defense, defense of others, or defense of your property is OK (as Man was given dominion over animals). Hunting for Sport, however....I define "sport hunting" as the killing of animals for pleasure and trophies. I believe that this is a gross disrespect to God's creation. He created those animals for a purpose, and I doubt that purpose was for Man to have fun killing them senselessly to fill some need for pleasure.”
“I don't agree with hunting for sport just to hang a head on the wall or a rug on the wall. To me it's a horrible waste of a life for that purpose. I really do hate it and (it) angers and saddens me…”
“Clearly, man is permitted to kill animals for food (Gen. 9:3), for clothing (Gen. 3:21), or in defense of his person or property (1 Sam. 17:34-37). The principles set forth in these passages, and numerous others, would permit the use of animals for medical purposes so that the human family might benefit....
....Sometimes it becomes necessary to eliminate animals which constitute a danger to society. It may be feasible at times to thin animal herds in over-populated areas for the ultimate welfare of the species. There may be pests which spread disease (e.g., rats).....
.....Having said that, we must caution that there is nothing in the Bible that would grant license to anyone to engage in the willful torture of animals for some sadistic pleasure. We believe that practices which involve, for example, the wounding and killing of animals for nothing but sport (Spanish bullfights, cock fights, etc.) are not in keeping with principles that please God.”
I challenge anyone to refute, scripturally, the stance that I (and these people) have taken. I am all for harvesting farm animals, or wild animals, for the appropriate reasons. What I reject is the disrespect of God’s creation – killing for amusement, fun, bragging rights, or commercialization.
In the words of an unnamed man:
“It is not the bullets that go into a deer which defile a man, but the intent of the heart from which they are fired.”