The Boy Mattered More


It’s a profound moral failure to think that an animal’s life is just as precious as a human’s.  It is not.  While both have value, they are not equal values.

Let me summarize my argument in three simple sentences:

  1. An animal’s life matters to God.  
  2. A human’s matters much more. 
  3. Therefore, it was right to kill the gorilla to save the boy. 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Jesus, in Matthew 10

Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 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.’

God, in Genesis 1

Last week, here in Cincinnati, a gorilla grabbed a 3-year-old boy after he got into the gorilla’s enclosure.  Knowing that tranquilizers take time and that the gorilla could kill or seriously injure the boy in a second, the staff shot and killed the gorilla to save the little boy’s life.


Now, while I can understand some sadness in the fact that the gorilla was killed, what I cannot empathize with is the particular kind of sadness that wails as though something wrong was done here.

It wasn’t.

Both the gorilla and the boy were made by God, but the boy mattered more.  He should grow up knowing that He mattered more.  He should grow up knowing that his neighbors and his friends and his enemies matter more.  Because to be wise is to value things the way God values them; to assign to individual things the weight that He does.  God did not die on the cross to offer His Gospel to animals, but to people.  God made man and woman in His image and gave them dominion over the animals and the earth.  And during the time of Israel God commanded animal sacrifice while condemning human sacrifice.

God says He values us and animals, but that He values us more.

This boy should grow up knowing that while a sad thing was done, the right thing was done.  Because that’s how much his life counts.  

One of the ways to make tell of a society’s wisdom, or lack thereof, is to see what it gets outraged over.  Animals are wonderful and made beautifully by an awesome God.  But human beings are the crowning jewel of His image on Earth.  And if a society can’t tell a pearl from a sandstone, it’s lost its moral high ground when it comes to being outraged.  

As someone who loves this society, I hope we retain our moral health, and so we prize things in their appropriate order.

Two final sentences:

  1. I love animals.
  2. The bodies and souls of humans, of children, take precedence over them.

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Jesus, in Matthew 18

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