Properly understood, hunting isn’t in opposition to Christian principles. However, many hunters are becoming increasingly aware that they need to be mindful of how they take care of God’s creation while they’re enjoying the time-honored sport and tradition of game hunting.
Truth be told, if anything hunting can deepen the Christian experience and vice versa. Time spent in God’s creation with animals in their natural habitat creates a greater understanding of and appreciation for God’s creation. In the modern world, filled with electronic devices, concrete, and air conditioning, it’s all too easy to remember what the natural world is like.
However, at all points hunters of faith need to be mindful of the ethical concerns related to hunting and how proper hunting isn’t in conflict with their religious principles, but in harmony with them. When all is said and done, we can begin to see hunting as a part of how we take care of the natural world and God’s creation – then look for other parts of our lives where we can do the same.
Biblical Perspectives on Environmental Stewardship
When God made Adam, He gave him dominion over all creatures of the Earth. However, God did not simply tell Adam to do whatever he liked with the animals of the field and the birds of the air. Genesis 2:15 says “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
The second part of the sentence is important: Adam had a purpose. The land was not simply there to fulfill his every whim. He was to take care of creation. In part, this is because the animals and the trees did not belong to Adam – they belonged to God.
King David wrote in Psalm 24 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Creation belongs to God. So while we’re here, it’s our responsibility to take care of His creation.
There is a clear Biblical mandate for responsible conservation and environmental stewardship that has nothing to do with the left-wing “environmental” movement. More and more American Christians are waking up to this.
So how does hunting fit in?
Hunting Is Proper Environmental Stewardship
As even a young man out on his first hunt knows, hunting is an important part of maintaining the ecological balance. Not enough hunters means too many deer (or whatever animal you care to hunt) means disease and starvation. These can have far-reaching consequences across ecospheres, impacting the entire ecosystem, not just the deer and the elk.
But there’s more to it than that.
Increasingly, hunters aren’t just hunting for the sake of hunting. While it’s true that man has always eaten his kill, in recent years it’s become more and more prevalent to see hunting not just as a great way to spend the weekend with friends and family, but as a way to put food on the table. This very simple act of eating what you kill is another method of Christian environmental stewardship.
There are two reasons for this. First, factory farming is often cruel to animals. No, we haven’t joined PETA. In fact, many Christians are choosing to avoid factory-farmed meat in favor of pastured, grass-fed meat in its place. One reason for this is a growing recognition that factory farming might not be in line with how they understand proper Christian stewardship.
Another reason is health. It’s simply a fact that game meat is healthier than factory-farmed meat. It doesn’t have any of the chemicals or hormones that we will find in factory-farmed meat. It isn’t processed. It doesn’t sit on a truck for hours where it can acquire bacteria and parasites. So when we choose to eat game meat, we’re not just caring for animals and God’s creation, we’re also taking better care of ourselves – and God expects us to make healthy choices.
All around, hunting is an integral part of Christian environmental stewardship. Even those who have never taken it up should consider it if they have any interest. There are few better ways to enjoy all that God has given to us.