A series of commentaries by Mary T. Hoffman about: humans and animals and the cruelty inflicted upon them; prayer and grace, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives; and the problems that plague our lives in this corrupted world.
"Love a Hunter" was the chalkboard "command" that greeted us as we strolled into the university classroom for a lecture by a Vietnam veteran vegetarian. (Do I hear an outraged cry of indignation or worse?! What? Has she gone daft? Love a murderer? No way!)
Earlier, we had met the speaker. He seemed a gentle man, and we felt that he was sincere in caring for the earth and its creatures; so we decided to stay and hear him out. All I can remember is that he loved his brother, a hunter, remained his friend, and tried to understand him. He did not hunt with him.
I had struggled with my feelings concerning hunters for a long time. Having someone near and dear to us who is a hunting enthusiast had kept me on an emotional roller coaster ranging from rage to love, and it had been exhausting.
Some Christian hunters (including members of the clergy) will tell you that they hunt in hopes of leading their fellow hunters to the Lord. I would ask them, "Would you sit at a bar getting drunk with an alcoholic in order to save him? Would you take part in armed robberies with criminals in order to win them over to the Kingdom of God? How about engaging in immorality with prostitutes for the purpose of showing them God's love?" Of course you would never do such things! You know better!
We have to remember that although Jesus' purpose for being here on earth was to free from the clutches of sin all those who would listen and believe, He Himself was sinless. He never sinned. Therefore He would never participate in behavior that would be demeaning. Unlike some of us, He would not allow Himself to succumb to the fear of social rejection or the need to be liked by ones peers. Although He associated with all sorts of sinners, He did not partake of their sinful activities.
In the short term, it is easier to go along with the crowd. I know that hunting is a culturally accepted "norm" for many people. They grow up in families in which it is the acceptable thing to do and not to be questioned. To break with this tradition is to lose face, appear weak, be ostracized, be teased, risk having your manhood questioned. Take your pick. A whole minefield of possibilities lurk.
Then there are the people who enjoy nature, but feel that they have to carry a weapon in order to have a purpose for being outdoors. I suspect that if the truth were told, some people carry from their childhood a fear of animals and woods, the unknown out there. Instead of consciously confronting their fear of snakes, wolves, any number of scary things that populate our childhood imaginations, they continue to do battle with these threatening creatures in a socially acceptable "adult" way.
But I digress.
If we Christians are to be like Jesus, then we must love the hunter. In 1 John 4:16-18 we are told:
16. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (KJV)
Each one of us is immature in some way. If we were perfect, we wouldn't be here. I think that hunting is an immature activity. I hasten to add that some of my activities may be viewed as immature by others, even though I am not aware of any harm being done to any creature as a direct result of skiing and skating. But we have a choice. In Christ we can find the strength to put childish things away. The Apostle Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 13:11:
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (KJV)
In the long term, Truth will win out. God's love is the most powerful force in the universe. Knowing this fact keeps me going. In John 8:32 Jesus says:
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (KJV)
I believe that if any permanent, positive change can occur in the status of animals, it must come out of action that is Godly. Let's face it. We are up against a world that the Bible says is dominated by hatred of the good. In John 15:17-19 we find this excellent advice given by Jesus:
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (KJV)
Our words and actions must be truthful and kind. The opposition likes nothing better than to have animal rightists fighting among themselves and saying and doing things that they can point to in order to tear us down in the media. I always cringe when I hear someone who professes to be for the animals say something hateful about the opposition. On the one hand I understand only too well the frustration we feel, but on the other hand I can see the potential harm that such speech can generate. I even begin to wonder if the person speaking is really for the animals. After all, there are "infiltrators" and bogus "animal rights" groups who exist merely to commit, and if possible to urge bona fide animal people to commit, atrocities with which to discredit the movement.
In a nutshell, you can't go wrong with Godly love. It sets you free. And those who are free in Christ are free indeed. There is no law against Godly love, and the opposition can't use it to entrap you. Besides, without all the stress of negative emotions, your health will improve so that you'll have more energy and probably live a longer life for use in doing good. So, go ahead; do yourself and your health a favor: "Love a hunter".
From my heart,