A Mother, a Son, a Gorilla, & a World with Stones in Hand.

I, Pastor Justin, am writing this under the submission and oversight of the Elders at Missio Dei Church. This is our voice speaking in unity.

I know you have read your fair share of posts and articles on this subject, but I am hoping to articulate some thoughts I have been shaping to assist us in looking at this situation from a biblical Christ-centered worldview. My aim is not to address the situation directly, but to address the responses I have seen from the public, specifically confessing Christians. I will go point by point on the major reactionary themes I have discovered. My prayer is that you would leverage the authority and truths of the scriptures to discern events in our culture, rather than knee jerk emotionalism and a bible absent critique.

RESPONDERS SAY: Obviously she is a bad mother, because the boy got into the exhibit.

God is the PERFECT Father and His children disobeyed.

God the Father perfectly instructed His children, Adam & Eve, on how to live, what was right and what was wrong, and even perfectly communicated the consequence for them if they chose to rebel. Still, they disobeyed. They rebelled against His perfect parenting and brought death onto themselves and all of creation. A neglect to realize the wicked depravity in us all, to disobey and rebel against even the best parenting, is a facade of empty self-righteousness. The raw fact that the child entered the exhibit has zero bearing to the parenting of the Mother. We disobey, you disobey, your children will disobey, and that disobedience may even create a situation of death. The perfect parent cannot control an imperfect heart.

It is entirely unjust, self righteous, and empty of mercy do dictate the entirety of the Mothers love, discipline, instruction, and care for her child from this one event. To do so demands that you don’t know children or are purposefully ignorant and blind to the possibilities of your own children, or your own ability to parent. I know families who love Jesus, disciple their children, love them unconditionally, discipline them in righteousness, and still lost their child to a split second act of disobedience. An act of disobedience that cost the child their very life.

The fact remains, you don’t know her, you don’t know her family, you don’t have one single ounce of ability to speak to her quality as a parent.

RESPONDERS SAY: No human life is more valuable than an animals life.

Humans are image bearers of God, animals are not.

This is theology 101, a non-negotiable to the Christian faith. Human beings have infinite more value than all of creation, because they alone bear His image. Humans are the unique aspect of His creation and the primary value that separates us from animals is that image. We must understand that image is marred and distorted because of our rebellion, but it is not destroyed or removed. This distortion does at times cause us to abuse the headship and dominion He gave us over the rest of His creation.

Humans have souls that can be eternally damned under God’s wrath or blessed with eternal life in His joy, animals do not.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. – 1 Tim. 1:15. Jesus came to save His image bearers, to renew the image of God in us, to conform us to Himself. No other aspect of creation did Jesus go to the cross for. He went to the cross for Human beings. All other aspects of creation will be destroyed and made new again in his consummation, but His image bearers will continue forever, not being destroyed and then created again, but eternally existing either in damnation or life. Only we have the resurrection, only we have His promises. Jesus had to go to the cross, because our souls were on the line of being eternally punished by God the Father’s wrath due to our sin. He didn’t go to the cross for Harambe, he went to the cross for the 4 year old boy and his Mother, no matter what you might think of them.

It is the heart of God to kill animals to save His image bearers.

All of the sacrifices in the old testament point to a value of image bearers over animals. God demanded that animals be put to death to display the value of His image bearers and the depths of their sin and rebellion. God does not demand the death of a human for the life of an animal. He intimately knows His own creation’s majesty, beauty, power, and life, yet still demands it to be taken so that human beings may live, so that they might know their worth.

RESPONDERS SAY: The boy should get what was coming, because of the Mother’s neglect.

It saddens me the deepest that I even have to respond to this statement. Why should the 4 year old boy pay for his Mother’s sin? He is a four year old boy who seems to really love gorillas. If there is any innocence, based on ignorance, inability to make logical decisions, and a zeal for God’s creation, that innocence is discovered in this little boy. How is it just to let him die even if the mother was the worst mother known to man? What if we were condemned by God because of the sins of our parents? I’m not sure about you, but I would be left crushed under His holy wrath without any glimpse of hope. I pray you don’t make a mistake one day as a parent and the world turns in rage to demand your child’s life. Going back to the inherent value of human beings, because of the mother’s mistake we lost an endangered majestic piece of God’s creation, but because of the Zoo’s response team, we gained a potential soul, or even many, into heaven.

RESPONDERS SAY: We are outraged!

A gorilla died and we are outraged, people are dying and we could care less. If we take the Bible seriously, this is a very distorted sense of love. There are people all around us dying and going to an eternity in hell and we could care less. We hold the truth to their life, we know the way to their freedom, we have the ability to present to them the One who can save them, but we remain silent, we remain with hands tucked to our sides. I wish we cared about people as much as we seem to care about Harambe. But the truth is, we don’t. How can Christians be more vocal and more outraged at this situation than the reality of our family members, neighbors, co-workers, or even our own children perishing and going to hell forever under the fullness of the wrath of God? HOW?

WE SAY: Where are our hearts?

Most of the responses I have read hold condemnation in a white knuckled grip. They condemn the mother, the zoo, the onlookers, anyone who has a giant target that we can hit with ease behind the safety of a keyboard. I have seen little to none with truth and grace. Let me ask this, did it come across anyones mind to seek the mother out and see if she was ok, if the boy was ok? To see if she needed help or was open to hearing her side and how her heart was affected by the situation? Or did we simply care about society hearing our self righteous soaked opinion that nobody asked for. Why has it been so easy to overlook our own sin, our own disobedience, our own neglect in the face of this situation? We will not win this city and our culture when we look and sound just like them. We will not bring glory to God amidst our uneducated, hypothetical, irrational, emotion filled responses to the sins of our culture. The Church must rise with a message of grace, with the truth in love, and with a deep remembrance that it cost heaven everything to save a disobedient, rebellious, wretch like me.


  1. Pray for the mother, the boy, the Zoo, and our city.
  2. Search your heart for the places you are filled with sin and disobedience.
  3. Praise God for His mercy and sovereignty in this situation.
  4. If convicted, take down your posts and reposts. Let us not add offense to an already offensive Gospel we have been entrusted with.

This doesn’t express all my thoughts on this situation. I am saddened of the situation our sin has created. A beautiful animal has died, a mother has been condemned by the public, and a young boy has been lost and counted worthless amidst all the noise. May we as Christians see ourselves in every aspect of this situation. May we go to the word to discern our culture before we go to our emotions or our own foolishness.

May we see Christ glorified in the death of Harambe and the life of a 4 year old image bearer.