The latest animal-related brouhaha in our increasingly decaying culture is the death of a gorilla named Harambe. Or perhaps I should have bucked the trend and started off by talking about how officials at the Cincinnati Zoo did the right thing by shooting said gorilla in order to save the life of a 4-year-old boy. But that’s not where the focus is. You see, what happened to the boy is merely the context for why this poor creature had to die. The more this story went viral, the more people came out of the woodwork to decry the gorilla’s death while simultaneously ignoring or dismissing the importance of saving the boy.
Protests, mostly online, have broken out against zoo officials who ordered the taking down of the animal. There is apparently a fairly large group of people who have no problem openly declaring the fact that they value animal life more than they do the life of a human person. Frankly, I don’t know how many people this group represents. It’s hard to say. But it’s a growing trend and I doubt the numbers were this large, say, a few decades ago. What’s happening–and it’s been happening for a long time–is modern Western society is becoming a retrograde throwback to its former self. That is to say, we’re returning to straight up paganism.
We saw the same thing with the outrage over Cecil the Lion. And this won’t be the last outrage we see as another animal’s death will most certainly be publicized in the future. There is no longer any recognition of the Imago Dei in human beings. Secularism coupled with a Darwinian view of life has borne this kind of fruit. But there’s nothing new under the sun. We’ve seen this kind of thing before, albeit in different forms. In Romans 1, Paul explains what the wrath of God looks like as it is revealed and how men suppress the truth in unrighteousness. He goes on to describe how idolatry takes hold:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Rom. 1:21-25)
Harambe is just the latest manifestation of idolatry. Some people are so devoted to this dead gorilla that they have lashed out at the mother of this child, blaming her for the whole thing. More extreme individuals have said that they would rather have seen the child die than have the gorilla put down. As Christians, we ought to be good stewards of the earth and all of the animals therein. The needless slaughter of animals is a cruel and wasteful abuse. But this isn’t that. Not at all. This is about saving the life of a boy who fell into mortal danger. A boy’s life trumps that of a gorilla’s every time.
After watching the video of what was happening to this boy, I couldn’t help but wonder why no one in that crowd bothered to jump down into that pit to save him. Where are the men? Where are the leaders? Where are the brave souls willing to risk life and limb in order to save another person?
Honestly, those are the same questions we need to ask every time we drive past an abortion mill. When you drive past a place where you know abortions take place, you’ll likely see a handful of people standing outside trying to proclaim truth and save children. Or perhaps you’ll see no one at all. Where are the Christians willing to stand in the gap for those babies? Where are the people of God who are committed to fulfilling James 1:27? Maybe this is part of the judgment of our modern culture…a lack of righteous leadership within the church.
It’s been pointed out that those who exalt this dead gorilla care nothing for the millions of lives of unborn children who are murdered en masse every year. This is true. We’re living through an unprecedented wave of apostasy and outright rejection of God’s common grace. Christians need to be bold about proclaiming–as Paul did on Mars Hill–who the Creator is and the good news of what was accomplished in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We confront the pagans of our day the same way Paul did in his. Let us do so with courage, clarity, and respect.