- Steve Sorensen
#3, of 7 Theological Truths about Hunting
Theological Truth #3 – Man Is a Steward over the Animal Kingdom
Some criticisms of hunters come from the wrong answer to the question, "Who's in charge of the animal kingdom?" It's a question that underlies many of the attacks on hunters. Those who oppose hunting seem to think that man is not a part of nature. This third theological truth about hunting says that in the Christian view of the world, man has been put in charge of the animals, to care for them and to make sure both domestic animals and wildlife thrives.
According to the Bible, man has been given the responsibility of dominion over animals, a responsibility given by God. This comes to us from Genesis 1:28, "And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'” The Christian view then is that God created both man and animals, but put the image of himself (in part, his own creative nature and sustaining will) into mankind only, so that man would have a role that is superior to the animals. Man is the caretaker of creation. God put him into the garden to work it, so caring for the environment is part of man's responsibility. God told man to name the animals, so investigating the relationships between species and the inter-dependency is also part of man's responsibility. Man must not exterminate a species, or abuse individual animals, but must care for them and make sure they have what they need.
Sister John Paul Bauer recognizes that this makes hunters stewards of the animal kingdom, and stewards of the habitat animals live in. We are assigned to manage them and their habitat to benefit all wildlife. Avoiding our responsibility as stewards of the animal kingdom can only harm the natural world. So, keeping animal populations in balance with their shared habitat, especially where animals are in close proximity to man, is important. The refusal to harvest animals is not a Christian virtue. In fact, our God-given stewardship of wildlife is more important today than ever, because man is taking over more and more wildlife habitat for his roads, shopping centers, housing and other forms of property development. This, not hunters, is the biggest threat to wildlife. Hunters are part of the system that helps wildlife to thrive under managed hunting. The greatest threat is habitat loss, as human industriousness robs wildlife, is property development. We should note the many conservation efforts supported by hunters – organizations such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, plus dozens of others, are an extension of this mission of man to be a steward of wildlife and its habitat. These organizations are making an effort to save the habitat.