Cecil the Lion and Our Misguided Theology About Animals

A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.”Proverbs 12:10 

Notwithstanding the fact that the beloved feline Cecil the Lion is now dead, and not discounting the circumstances or motives by which he met his demise, that people are mourning the death of an animal as if it were a human is misguided.

Let us remember that God did not breathe the breath of life into an animal, but into a man (Genesis 2:7).

And though all animals are indeed created by God (Psalm 50:10-11) it is human beings, not animals, who are created in the image and likeness of the God who created the animals (Genesis 1:26-27).

It is interesting to observe the situational indignation of people whose theological paradigm equates the value and worth of animals with that of human beings.

This is not to say that we should not make known our disapprobation at the mistreatment or abuse of animals.

We should.

Nevertheless, though humans and animals are equally creations of God, that they share that distinction does not mean they are equal in significance.

They are not.

“We are subordinate to the Lord, not to the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Instead, man has dominion over the other creatures God has made. We must rule wisely and compassionately, as we will be judged for all of our transgressions, ecological and otherwise. While humans have a greater ultimate worth than animals, those who, for example, do not endorse abortion on demand while maintaining poor stewardship of God’s creation will have to answer for their sins.” – from the devotional The Image of God as published online at Ligonier.org.

Biblically speaking, it is impossible to “murder” an animal.

You can kill an animal, true, but you cannot murder one.

Only that which was created to bear the image of God can be murdered; and only mankind meets that qualification, animals do not, which is exactly why the sixth commandment – the context of which is the horizontal relationship between one human being who bears the image of God toward another who bears that same image – states, “You shall not murder” not “You shall not kill.”

In reading this post, please understand that not a word of what I am saying is intended as an apologetic for the man who killed Cecil the Lion.

Not at all.

I simply believe, given the global sensationalism surrounding this particular incident, that what has transpired affords an opportunity to engage in dialogue about the biblical distinctions between humans and animals which, conversely, is not to infer or imply that humans should not endeavor to treat animals as the creations of God that they are.

Humbly in Christ,


The Image of God (Desiring God)
“What Does It Mean That Humanity Is Made In The Image of God?” (Got Questions)

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Author Cecil the Lion and Our Misguided Theology About Animals

Darrell B. Harrison

Lead Host Just Thinking Podcast

Darrell is is a native of Atlanta, Georgia but currently resides in Valencia, California where he serves as Dean of Social Media at Grace To You, the Bible-teaching ministry of Dr. John MacArthur. Darrell is a 2013 Fellow of the Black Theology and Leadership Institute (BTLI) of Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and is a 2015 graduate of the Theology and Ministry program at Princeton Theological Seminary. Darrell studied at the undergraduate level at Liberty University, where he majored in Psychology with a concentration in Christian Counseling. He was the first black man to be ordained as a Deacon in the 200-year history of First Baptist Church of Covington (Georgia) where he attended from 2009 to 2015. He is an ardent student of theology and apologetics, and enjoys reading theologians such as Thomas Watson, Charles Spurgeon, and John Calvin. Darrell is an advocate of expository teaching and preaching and has a particular passion for seeing expository preaching become the standard within the Black Church.