January 20, 2013 Q & A

Is the "sport" of hunting sinful?


As Christians we are called to take care of God's creation (Gen. 1:26). That includes taking care of animals, but what about the "sport" of hunting? Is that a biblical practice or is it a sin?


The command in Genesis 1:26 includes caring for creation, but more broadly it indicates that man is to "rule" over creation. The Hebrew word radah means "tread" and by extension "have dominion" as those possessing authority over other creatures. Thus man is to exercise a stewardly care and oversight over the created order as the Creator's representative (Ps. 8:5), and also to benefit from the bounty of creation as he tends and keeps it (Ps. 104:14–15). With respect to hunting animals, one of the purposes is to use the animal for food, and so would be legitimate according to God's word to Noah in Genesis 9:3, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you."

There is also a recreational aspect to the sport of hunting, and here some distinctions should be drawn. If a hunter merely takes pleasure in shooting wildlife indiscriminately, and so leaves dead carcasses to rot in the wilderness, this would not be justified by Scripture since it would be an action meant only to satisfy one's violent desire. Proverbs 12:10 says, "Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel." This implies that cruelty extended to animals (in this case domestic) would be an expression of sinfulness. If, however, a hunter finds pleasure in the "sport" of hunting as other ends are also carried out—for example, the procurement of animal skins, enforcing population and pest control, gathering food, etc.—then hunting would fall under that activity of the image-bearer described in Genesis 1:26. Whether as part of one's vocation or avocation, being a hunter is permissible according to the Bible. Examples are Nimrod in Genesis 10:9 and Esau in Genesis 25:27.



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