Hunting is simply a part of life for many communities this time of year. There is no question of whether or not an activity long considered to be a means of survival, should continue in modern society. This is certainly evident as social media feeds are scattered with pictures of hunters triumphantly standing or kneeling on their conquered game. But for believers, is hunting an activity God would encourage?
Just to get it out of the way early, there is nothing in the Bible which disallows the practice of hunting or consuming meat in general. Mankind has been given dominion over creation and therefore should use plants, animals and other resources as we need to survive. Moreover, God himself provided meat as food in several instances in scripture. Many of the disciples whom Jesus called to follow Him were also fishermen by trade. In fact, Jesus helped them catch more than they could handle on occasion.
So naturally the obvious question is, what is the purpose of this article? For most humans throughout history and living today, surviving day to day remains a top concern. Hunting has always been a way to supplement the supply of food obtained by farming. And when a man has to choose between hunting an animal and feeding his family, God surely understands. Even when hunting is the means for financial survival via selling food and other animal products, God understands.
God understands many reasons for hunting. He will understand if a person would prefer hunting in order to obtain meat untainted by steroids, antibiotics or other chemicals. He would also understand hunting done as an alternative to eating animals which are abused and mistreated on factory farms their entire lives. But the truth is, God did not originally intended for his creatures to consume each other. It was not said to be this way in the Garden of Eden and Isaiah states it will return to this state in the world to come.
But when sin entered this world, food chains came into play. Man was no longer able to freely pluck food he never lifted a finger to sow. If he wanted to eat he had to plow, hunt or work to pay others for food. Such is the case until this very day. However, America and other Western countries are in a unique position. The majority of people here have access to more food than most people could dream about. We have so much food that a good portion of Americans have health issues as a result of overeating. So for most who hunt today, the issue of survival is far more distant.
As stated previously, there are still a number of understandable reasons for hunting. From the beginning, God made us stewards over all of creation. And as such, we are expected to utilize it for His glory and respect what He has made. Yet, there is a suspicion that something much darker may truly lurk in the heart of many hunters today. And this can only truly be known by God.
The question for the Christian hunter is no longer whether or not God condones hunting. The more critical question is, what is your true reason for hunting? Yes you may use the meat from your kills, but was obtaining meat for sustenance your primary goal? I would venture to say the food acquired from a good portion of hunting today is a by-product of less God-honoring intentions.
These intentions become more evident as people take photos in which they display their prized kill for all to see and admire. They permeate the macho stories about the size of the hunted buck or caught fish. They expose themselves each time a hunter avoids a headshot in order to keep the head in good condition. It is when hunting is no longer about survival and instead becomes about the hunt. It is when vanity, cultural acceptance, masculinity or the thrill of a kill trump the need to feed.
But as in all things, only God truly knows what lies in each person’s heart. He knows when a kill is done with respect for his creation, and when it is done in pride and arrogance. He is able to plainly see what motivation lies in a hunter’s heart. So what I ask of my Christian brethren as they partake in hunting and fishing this year, is to search your hearts. Consider why it is you do what you do. Question whether you partake in hunting to provide for your family or to glorify yourself. And should you find and be willing to admit that your motivations are impure, are you willing to walk away? Or at the very least, will you ask God to bring your intentions in line with His will? Rather than give up hunting, perhaps your heart when doing so may change.
By Corey Dorsey
Image by Frankes