As you have likely heard, a small boy recently found his way into a gorilla cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. The gorilla, a 17-year-old, 450-pound silverback named Harambe, was ultimately shot to death once it was deemed the safest option to save the child. I have pondered whether or not to share my thoughts on a story that has already received far too many public opinions, but considering how I feel as a parent (and this is a parenting blog), I want to remind other families of this: we are all human, and we are worth more than animals (even when we act like them).
Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 1:27, ESV)
No one wants to see a beautiful creature killed, especially when what occurred in Cincinnati was in no way the fault of the gorilla. However, at the end of the day, a human life has far more value than an animal ever could. Though this may seem simple, it’s not the popular opinion these days. Opinion, fortunately, will never trump truth!
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female, he created them. (Genesis 1:27, ESV)
While I can no longer be shocked at some of the more outlandish views I’ve read—such as “the child should have died, not the gorilla,” and “the mother should be in prison”—I am baffled at best and incensed at worst that strangers would so passionately take up the cause of the moment and viciously attack their fellow man. Rather than use this opportunity for good, extending compassion to other humans, most are using their tongues as weapons to cause further damage.
For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. (James 3:7-10, NASB)
As parents, and especially as Christian parents, we need to be ever mindful to not get so wrapped up in our causes that we forget the ultimate cause: to make Christ known. People will always have something to speak out against (or in favor of), and if we are proactive and engaged, we have endless opportunities to teach compassion and respect to our children. We can use “newsworthy” moments to be peacemakers in a world very much in need of peace.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (Romans 12:18, NASB)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9, NASB)
What happened with Harambe and this family is a valuable lesson for all of us. Does the life of this gorilla matter? Absolutely. Does the life of the little boy matter more? Absolutely. Should we instruct our children to listen well? Absolutely. And then, after instructing, pray, pray, and pray they will—because often, they won’t. Should we teach our children about consequences for behavior? A thousand times “yes.” This little boy and his family will now live with the consequences of a moment they could not foresee and a result they cannot undo. Whether the little boy darting off was a result of improper discipline or a moment of distraction, I don’t know—but God does, and that’s all that matters. While the world is speaking out in defense of an ape, the little boy and his family, who have souls, will forever be impacted by what occurred.
After the peanut gallery has moved on to another story, we will again have a choice to engage in conversations and causes. So, will those causes be for Christ? Through it all, let’s use our tongues to teach our children and others what it means to have true compassion and respect because, oh, how we all need it.
In His Love,
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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