I know everyone has heard the recent story about the child falling into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo. After the authorities arrived, the gorilla was shot in order to rescue the child.
Of course there was an instant fight between those who supported killing the gorilla and those who would have preferred another method of getting the young boy out. “Gorilla experts” took to the airwaves to defend each position. I’m not sure how Christians ended up getting involved in the animal welfare aspects of the case, but it was hard to be on social media and not see Christian people debating the ethics of killing the gorilla.
While we ought to strive to be good caretakers of God’s creation (yes, that includes animals), it’s important that good theology lead the discussion. Quite simply, humanity occupies a special place in the world. No animal life compares to human life. From the beginning of world, we have been set apart.
Then God said, “Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. They will be masters over all life – the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild animals, and small animals.”
So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them. God blessed them and told them, “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and the birds and all the animals.” (Genesis 2)
Indeed, it is only humanity that received the breath of God, that Spirit within us that makes us distinct from even our closest animal relatives. When it comes to evaluating the worth of a life of a human over an animal, there really should be no place for debate. The human life is superior to the animal life.
No, this doesn’t give us room to be cruel to animals. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is that saving a human life is more important than saving an animal life. Of course another option that had been able to spare gorilla and child would have been great, but I have no qualms about and feel theologically justified in putting down an animal so that we might save human life.
And for those of you who saw fit to criticize the parents for “letting” their child climb into the gorilla enclosure, I leave you with this that I saw on my buddy Aaron’s Facebook page:
How about you? Do you think they should have put the gorilla down or do you favor an alternative method for rescuing the boy?