Would he enjoy the thrill of killing? Would he collect and love guns? Would he have himself photographed with trophy kills?
Would he enjoy bonding with his disciples out in the woods? Was he a badass like John the Baptist? Was he a man's man?
“For God so loved the hunter, that he stocked his game farm with prey, that whosoever will Rise, Kill, and Eat shall not hunger but have lasting memories, a delicious meal, and gratitude to our bountiful Father.” – Doug Giles 3:16
Doug Giles lives in Texas and answers yes to the questions raised above. His interests, as he describes them in one of his book, "include guns, big game hunting, big game fishing, fine art, cigars, helping wounded warriors, and being a big pain in the butt to people who dislike God and the USA." Giles is an artist, father, and co-host of the Warriors and Wildman podcast. He is author of the Amazon best-seller, Pussification: The Effeminization Of The American Male and many other books, including Rise, Kill, and Eat: A Theology of Hunting from Genesis to Revelation.
As Giles sees things, Jesus was an "epic no-nonsense apocalyptic warrior who confronted devils, disease, bad priests and politicians, and did not suffer fools." He "fashioned a whip and drove religious hucksters out of a temple, made and drank wine while hanging out with, and eternally changing, some really sketchy people." He "ultimately paid a price that most macho men over on Instagram wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. That price he paid was death on a cross." In short, for Giles Jesus was a badass among biblical badasses. The Bible says that he slaughtered thousands of fish to feed people. He would definitely hunt.
For my part, I see things otherwise. Evidence suggests that he fished. But I can't see him enjoying what so many hunters enjoy: the exhilaration of killing, the collection and love of guns, and the desire to be photographed with trophies. I think the whole point of his ministry was to offer an alternative to such exhilaration, and that he was pretty hard on gloaters. I just can't see him as a gun guy.
But my aim in this page is not to demonstrate that he wouldn't hunt. He might well appreciate hunting for good as a humane and alternative to shopping for meat at a supermarket, where animals are purchased without any sense of responsibility for their deaths. It is to raise the questions so that readers will consider matters for themselves and, along the way, suggest that how we approach the question is related, as Giles makes clear, to the concept of masculinity. I do this because, in my own experience, hunting and masculinity have been closely connected, as they are for Doug Giles. My hope is that readers will make up their own minds: hunters and non-hunters alike.
Would Jesus hunt?
Yes, says Doug Giles, he was a man's man.
A Review of Giles' Book on Hunting
a review of Rise, Kill, and Eat by John Kirkwood
“For God so loved the hunter, that he stocked his game farm with prey, that whosoever will Rise, Kill, and Eat shall not hunger but have lasting memories, a delicious meal, and gratitude to our bountiful Father.” – Doug 3:16 Is the God who is present at every sparrow’s funeral also the Lord of the Hunt? Should not the follower of Christ be a “Thou shalt not kill” – “Turn the other cheek” – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” pacifist, vegan, PETA supporter? Let’s face it, this isn’t the age of Laura Ingalls Wilder and we’re not living on the Ponderosa with Hoss and Little Joe; so isn’t it time we stow the bluster, hang the musket on the wall, and order the Arugula with Roasted Squash on Endive?
Rise, Kill, And Eat: A Theology of Hunting From Genesis to Revelation is the culmination of all that is Doug Giles – the artist, the hunter, the unashamed Christian. Not meant to be exhaustive, the book explores the scope of hunting as it appears in Scripture and the undeniable principle that God declares about the relationship between man and animal – “Animals don’t have rights, but men have responsibilities.”
You don’t have to be a Christian or a hunter to appreciate this book, though in either case you will find a lot to challenge the common myths that affect both worlds. In a style that is both unique and unforgettable, Giles tears down those strongholds that mealy-mouthed Christianity and self-loathing Gaia worshipers have erected to waylay both the hunter and the informed believer. Giles brings out that not only is the God of the Bible cool with hunting, He’s sponsored it. It’s even part of His plan.
Consider Noah’s floating game farm, God tells Noah to let them off the ark, let them populate a bit, and then put them on the menu; or as Giles puts it – “Imagine that: God Almighty was the first game rancher, who conserved species, not for the purpose of petting them in a menagerie, but rather for the express purpose of consuming them with fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Well, there are arguments in this book that disarm the professing Christian some are devastating even to your run of the mill anti-hunter – “Here’s another FYI for the vegetarians,” adds Giles, “For you to have your precious vegetables a farmer had to kill rabbits, deer, wild boar, birds and other animals that prey on your special grub. It’s true. Ask a farmer. I dare you.”
Even the pragmatic atheist can see the benefits of hunting to conservation, the feeding of the homeless, the protection of crops, and what most people ignore – the legacy of bonding that is passed down from parent to child. You can hunt alone and many of us have, but there is nothing like hunting with friends and beyond that, there is no substitute for the memories that are inaugurated between a father and son. Daughters too, as in Giles case, are becoming more and more the norm and time in the field with dad is fondly remembered and oft times life-changing.
Another keen observation of the author is about the patriarch Isaac and his wish for his last meal – “Matter of fact, when Isaac was about to take the big dirt nap, the adios snooze, the eternal siesta, his last request was not to have one more round of kum-ba-yah with Todd the quasi-male worship leader; but rather for his oldest boy to go out into the woods and shoot and kill him some tasty grub.”
I must confess, as a Christian pastor and a sometime hunter, I opened Rise, Kill, And Eat: A Theology of Hunting From Genesis to Revelation with the idea that I would learn about hunting but not so much about theology. I was wrong. I did learn about hunting but was surprised to learn a great deal about theology. Not that I hadn’t studied these well-known accounts before, but I had overlooked some important points that Giles brings out in nearly every chapter.
For example when God provided skins for Adam and Eve after the fall, Giles points out that, “because this event took place prior to the flood, the meat was wasted because no meat was consumed until after the Noahic flood (see Genesis 9:1-3). OMG, what will the bunny lovers do with that revelation?”
So I learned that the God of the Bible isn’t nearly as principled as the noble savages in Dances With Wolves or the Blue Waif Smurfs in Avatar – because we all know that the Na’vi would have sharpened those Ram’s horns, that God apparently wasted, and used them against the humans who were raping their exoplanetary moon to mine unobtanium....more
Would Jesus hunt?
Maybe, but he wouldn't enjoy it.
When it comes to thinking about whether Jesus would enjoy killing animals, I begin with a passage from Whitehead's Process and Reality. This book would have no authority for Doug Giles, but it does for me.
There is, however, in the Galilean origin of Christianity yet another suggestion which does not fit very well with any of the three main strands of thought. It does not emphasize the ruling Caesar, or the ruthless moralist, or the unmoved mover. It dwells upon the tender elements in the world, which slowly and in quietness operate by love; and it finds purpose in the present immediacy of a kingdom not of this world. Love neither rules, nor is it unmoved; also it is a little oblivious as to morals. It does not look to the future; for it finds its own reward in the immediate present.
This way of thinking about Jesus is quite different from that of Doug Giles. Whereas Giles imagines Jesus on the analogy of a dragon slayer, Whitehead imagines Jesus on the analogy of a tender companion. I'm afraid that Giles would see the God of Whitehead as, shall we say, pussified.
It is interesting that an entire movement of theology has emerged in sympathy with Whitehead. I am thinking of the Open and Relational movement. Led by Thomas Oord, it sees the very essence of God, not as a controlling power that seeks to have authority over the world, but as a loving self who seeks to dwell with the world in a luring but uncontrolling way. Watch the videos and you'll get the point.
To my knowledge, no one in the Open and Relational movement has explored the implications of Open and Relational thinking for hunting. But what is clear is that, for most Open and Relational theologians, the love of God applies not only to human beings but also to other animals, other creatures of the flesh. In Open and Relational Theology, Oord tells the story of a trapped coyote.
I tried to free a coyote recently. He was not wanted in land now grazed by cattle. A trap’s jaws clasped his leg tightly, and I struggled to release him. He stared in shock as I worked six inches from his trembling muzzle. I talked in quiet and friendly tones, but also cried in frustration at my failure to release him. I returned an hour later to find the trap empty, and a trapper’s tracks showing my wild friend’s life was snuffed out. Idaho laws consider me a criminal for trying to free my coyote companion. I’d rather be an outlaw of love than comply with decrees of death. I often ask, “What can I do to make this world a better place for my animal friends?” Many today are asking this question. The majority in the open and relational community take concrete action to help the earth and its inhabitants, even if there’s sometimes disagreement on what actions are best. My friends at the Institute for Ecological Civilization, for instance, are helping us to live well as co-creators, among other co-creators. The God of open and relational theology cares about all creatures. I care too. And I commit to cooperating with this Creator for the good of all.
Confession: I grew up hunting. I killed a doe when I was about seven, and a buck when I was nine. I shot them both with a 30-06 (pronounced "thirty-ought-six") rifle. After that I quit hunting because I did not like killing animals. I well remember killing the buck, because I made a bad shot and hit him in his backbone. He suffered right in front of me, clawing the ground in pain. I tried to shoot him again from close range to end his misery but missed. My father had to take the last and final shot.
After quitting hunting, I kept eating meat purchased from grocery stores and restaurants. I lived in Texas, and it was steak culture. Eating and liking steaks was a sign of manhood. When I had a special date, I would take her to a restaurant that served steaks and proudly order them medium-rare so that you could see a little blood. I wanted to be seen as macho.
It was only much later, in college, that I became aware of the way that animals are treated in being raised for food. I began to see that in some ways they suffered more and had much less a life to be lived on their terms, than did animals in the wild. The buck I killed had a better life, despite his pain in the end, than the cows and pigs and chickens that are purchased at the grocery store.
This made me look back on my hunting days a little differently. I began to realize that hunters are more honest about the fact that when we eat meat a life has been taken, than are non-hunting meat eaters. And I began to think that, if meat must be eaten, it is probably more ethical to kill an animal, cleanly so that the animal experiences minimum suffering, and to take responsibility for what you've done, than to go to a restaurant and eat meat, all the while complicit in the animal's suffering and death but taking no responsibility for it.
What I still didn’t like, and don’t like to this day, is the macho culture that surrounded the hunting I knew. It seems to me that, if a hunter enjoys the killing or gloats after the kill, this enjoyment and gloating are forms of sin. At least this is the case if you are Christian. I just can’t see Jesus enjoying killing or gloating afterwards. Nor do I see him needing to "prove his manhood" by being a steak guy. He was man enough for me.
So...would Jesus hunt? I don't think he'd hunt in the way that Ted Nugent hunts, or Donald Trump, Jr. hunts. Or, in truth, Doug Giles hunts. I think he would be sad, not glad, that he killed a large and beautiful animal. And I think it would matter to him, as it does to Giles, that the animal suffer minimally. Jesus would know, as ought we all, that every bit of suffering - every bit! - is shared by a deep Tenderness in whose heart we unfold, be we human or bear or coyote. Jesus wasn't interested in trophies. His aim was to invite us all into a still more excellent way of being in the world, where the will of Abba is done on earth as it is in heaven. The will of Abba is not that "men" prove themselves through killing, or that women prove themselves in this way either. It is that we love each other as sisters and brothers, with no one left behind, and that we recognize other animals as creatures of the flesh, along with us, whose suffering we seek to minimize and whose beauty we celebrate, as does Giles.