Recently Ashley Judd has taken on Sarah Palin for encouraging the shooting of wolves in Alaska — from airplanes! She even offered a $150 bounty for the animals’ left foreleg, although a judge struck that decree down.
For background information, see Mark Benjamin’s article “Her deadly wolf program” at Salon.com and Ashley Judd’s video ad at Newsweek’s http://www.salon.com/env/feature/2008/09/08/sarah_palin_wolves.
From a biblical worldview standpoint, aerial shooting of wolves is atrocious. Whatever justification might be brought forth — such as wolves killing domestic animals and causing economic harm; or people have always hunted; or the right to bear firearms and use them hunting — must be subjugated to a higher and more authoritative mandate.
What is that mandate? Stewardship of the Earth. In the first chapter of Genesis, God places men and women, who are made “in God’s image,” as his agents or vice-regents on the Earth. He tells the man and the woman to rule over or take dominion over (Hebrew: mashal) the created order. By no means can that mean to rape and plunder the Earth with no concern or care for it.
A little later in Genesis (chapter 2), the man is told to “work” it (Hebrew: abad) the garden and to “tend,” “care for” or “watch over” (Hebrew: shamar) it. The Earth is our home, our “garden.” We need to work it, tend it, care for it, and watch over it. We can’t just unthinkingly trash it, pollute it, and subject it to harm.
It also implies that we need to act toward the creation with some compassion and respect. We can’t act on the environment with reckless abandon or cruelty.
Psalm 24 says, “The Earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.” What resources we use, we borrow from the Earth and, consequently, from God. Therefore, we must think about future generations, not just our own.
It follows, then, that Christians who claim they believe the biblical worldview must (in some sense) be environmentalists. That doesn’t mean we will agree on how to address every environmental issue. People will argue about how to rationally and prudently achieve stewardship goals.
But it does mean that we must take seriously the commission God has given humans to steward and take care of the land and the creatures in the Earth that populate the planet with us.
Unfortunately, shooting wolves from airplanes doesn’t qualify as compassionate or rational stewardship. Sarah Palin doesn’t understand this basic biblical worldview fact.
As Christians and as environmentalists, we need to be concerned about wildlife in general, including wolves specifically. Wolves are predators, but that doesn’t make them bad. They’re just acting according to their natures; they’re doing what wolves are designed to do.
(For example, do good research on the wolf population, rather than act prejudicially against them. If the good research shows that wolf population must be thinned out, at least give the wolves a fighting chance. Make the hunters put some boots on and get out of their vehicles. And outlaw hunting wolves from airplanes, for crying ut loud!)
I’m not suggesting that humans have no privileged place on this planet; as creatures made in the image of God, and as supposedly rational, we clearly do.
I’m also not suggesting that animal interests must always trump human interests (as they seem to with some environmentalists). However, we do need to consider that animal interests may very well coincide with our own.
I’m arguing for biblical stewardship, rational balance of interests and avoiding cruelty. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.