#1, of 7 Theological Truths about Hunting
If you read many hunting stories on the Internet last year, you might have read about a Catholic nun, Sister John Paul Bauer of St. Marys, PA, who shot a nice buck on opening day. Sister JP has taken lots of criticism for it, as you may know. You might even have some questions. "How can a pious person kill an innocent animal?" Well, you don't have to not be a nun to be a legitimate, moral hunter. Nuns can be hunters, just like auto mechanics and attorneys. Lots of hunters, no matter what profession they're in, are deeply spiritual people and faithful followers of Christ.
In November, 2016 I published an article in North American Whitetail magazine, where she and I talked about the theology of hunting. Here, I offer seven theological truths about hunting, from the conversation she and I had. It doesn't matter whether you're Catholic or Protestant, or from some other branch of the Christian faith – the theology of hunting is pretty much the same.
Theological Truth #1 – Hunting Is Not Murder
Sister John Paul teaches theology at Elk County Catholic High School. She says that Christian theology does not define killing an animal as murder, as some of her critics think. She's right, because the frame of reference of the Sixth Commandment (and all commandments) is that man is uniquely made in the image of God. God calls us to moral responsibility, so all ten commandments are for beings made in God's image. Numbers 1 through 4 address the relationship of beings made in God's image to their Maker, and numbers 6 through 10 address our relationships with other members of the human race, fellow beings made in God's image. God gave mankind the Ten Commandments to because he wanted us live up to his standard of righteousness. Deliberately taking the life of an innocent person made in God's image is murder because it's an attack on the image of God. A deer does not bear God’s image, so harvesting a deer (as beautiful as it is) cannot be defined as murder. Any theology that equates killing animals with killing humans is not supported by the Bible, and is not Christian theology. No one at the time of the giving of the Commandments applied the prohibition against murder to the killing of animals.