Fall is drawing to a close, and with it another hunting season. I went out a few times but didn’t have much success. A lot of my friends, don’t understand why I hunt. “There is a supermarket right down the street from your house, wouldn’t it be cheaper to get your meat there?” Well, yes it would. Perhaps the most common criticism I hear of hunters goes something like this, “How could you destroy such a beautiful creature?”
A friend of mine recently “harvested,” his first bull elk. Harvest is the word hunters use when we want to talk about our successful hunt, but don’t want to offend our softer friends. The truth is, my friend killed an elk. One minute the animal was alive, minding it’s own business, the next, my friend shot it with a high-powered rifle, and it was dead. My friend put a picture of his elk on Instagram, along with some very thought provoking and honest comments about his emotions at having killed this magnificent animal.
The truth is, hunters kill beautiful creatures. But hunters have realized an age old truth. In order for me to remain alive, something must die. Most of my friends, with the “beautiful creature” argument are personally responsible for the deaths of countless cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens every year. Just because we as a society have hired a group of people to do the dirty work of killing for us, does not make us less responsible for the death of the cow who was the burger we just ate. People who are opposed to hunting have tricked themselves (subconsciously) into thinking that since the sights, sounds and smells of a meat processing plant are far away from them, they are not associated with the death. This keeps our houses and yards clean, but it shouldn’t affect our conscious.
Unfortunately, one can’t avoid the truth that being alive requires the death of something else even as a vegetarian or a vegan. The plants you eat, the house you live in, the roads you drive on all require land. That land displaces animals, this displacement leads to death and decreased population of animals. The same can be said for the mining operations from which we all derive almost all the materials we use on a daily basis. It’s time to be honest with yourself. Your life comes at the cost of something else’s life. The sorrow that all new hunters feel after killing is a reminder of that cost.
If I was not a Christian, my argument would end there. These truths hold for believers and unbelievers alike. But as a christian, I can make an even stronger case for hunting within the same set of reasons. After Adam committed the first sin, God promised a deliverer. Genesis 3:21 then says “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” Where did these garments come from? In Verse 7 Adam and Eve “sewed fig leaves together,” but these must have been inadequate, for God had to kill something in order that Adam and Eve might go on living. One of the first consequences of sin was that something had to die.
The Old Testament is bathed in the blood of “beautiful creatures.” Those creatures’ death was necessary to reconcile a sinful people to a holy God. But the new testament does away with such gory sacrifice. Or does it? When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming he said “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) By “lamb,” John meant the sacrificial lamb, referring to Old Testament law. The lamb that would be slaughtered on the day of atonement. See Leviticus 5. Or perhaps he was referring to the passover lamb, slaughtered and it’s blood placed on the doorpost so that death would not visit the house. (Exodus 12). Christ himself charged his disciples to celebrate his blood poured out for us, and his body broken for us. (Luke 22:7-23)
The wages of sin are death. There is no way around that. Christ died in my place, once and for all, so that I might live. Hunting doesn’t make this any more or less true. However, when I am faced with the uncomfortable truth that I have just destroyed a beautiful creature, I am reminded that the most beautiful creature, indeed the creator of all beautiful creatures, was destroyed for my continued life. But, unlike any mere created thing, Christ’s sacrifice was perfect and final. He has paid the final bill, so that one day we might be able to live without killing. Until that day comes I will continue hunting. And every time I harvest something, I will be reminded that my sins have a cost.