Wednesday, 1 June 2016


OK so probably not.

More likely He would just have performed a miracle that would have saved them both, but at least it got your attention.

 Many folks are getting themselves into a lather over the fate of Harambe the gorilla who was shot dead at Cincinnati Zoo earlier this week in order to save the life of a four-year-old boy who had somehow found his way into the animal's enclosure. 

That the child was in imminent danger is incontestable. Footage shows the primate dragging the boy around the enclosure like a rag doll & such an immensely powerful creature could easily have killed the infant even in play. The authorities took the view that tranquilisation was too risky and that there were simply no other options other than to shoot the beast. 

 Not withstanding separate and legitimate questions over the adequacy of the enclosure's security & whether the parents ought to have been paying closer attention to their charge in such a place, the central fact is that once the situation had arisen the zoo authorities did absolutely the right thing. 

 We may be sure that none of Harambe's new friends on the internet are anything like as distressed over the loss of the animal as its actual carers, whilst I am also certain that many of the people joining the hullabaloo would, if it had been their child or grandchild in there, have been the first to pull the trigger.

Nevertheless we have had to endure an avalanche of statements along these lines:

"It’s hard to tip the scale on which life carried more value. A boy’s or that of an innocent Gorilla" 

"There are billions of humans and only a a few thousand such gorillas so the gorilla counted more"

 We ought not to be shocked by such comments coming as they do from a society that has long drifted from its biblical moorings. To our darkened understanding, humans are nothing more than advanced animals, and so we are no longer capable of assessing the true differential between a primate and a four-year-old boy.      
Where Jesus stood on the issue of human importance versus the animal kingdom is quite clear: 

" are of more value than many sparrows." (Mt 10:31)

"He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep {or a gorilla}! (Mt 12:11-12)

 As believers we understand (or ought to) that humans gain their significance from their unique status as bearers of the image of God (Gen 1:27). This is the measure of the distance between ourselves and "the beasts that perish." 

 In short, kittens are cute, gorillas like Harambe are awe-inspiring, but only people are sacred
To those holding the " RIP Harambe" signs we must gently but firmly insist that gorillas do not in fact ever rest in peace -only those with immortal souls can do that. Harambe, like all lesser beings, has simply ceased to exist. That boy who was saved, on the other hand, will exist somewhere for all of eternity: such is the chasm between the animal and the image-bearer.  

We ought to regret the loss of such a wonderful creature as Harambe but we ought not to call it a "tragedy" as many have done -only the death of the boy would have fallen into that category.

An image-bearer is worth very many gorillas. If you don't believe me ask Jesus.