You’ve already heard the story: Several days ago, a 4-year-old boy climbed under a barrier and fell into a gorilla cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. To the horror of observers, a 400-pound gorilla named Harambe seized the child and began to drag him through the pen like a rag doll. Zookeepers (and every other observer) knew the boy’s life was in “imminent danger,” so they did what had to be done: shot and killed the gorilla. And if you haven’t followed the news, I’m sure you can predict the public response: relief that the boy is safe.

…Of course not. Try public outrage. Many are questioning whether the killing was necessary, attacking the mother of the boy, and demanding “justice for Harambe.” Memorials, even, are being erected to commemorate the gorilla. To the zoo’s credit, they’ve stood by their decision and say that if they had to do it again, they would respond the same way.

What the public reaction says about our culture’s devaluation of human life unfortunately isn’t new. Remember Cecil the Lion? There’s a genocide happening in the Middle East, but it’s the death of a lion and of a gorilla that trigger national mourning. Or consider a closer comparison: Tilikum the Killer Whale. Tilikum did kill. Three times. And yet, even to this day the whale lives. Larry Taunton’s reflection on its third kill is just as relevant now:

From a biblical perspective, human life is infinitely more valuable than that of an animal because man is made in the image of God.  It is why the Mosaic Law directed that animals causing harm to people should be immediately destroyed.  It is this concept of human dignity and significance that has informed our culture for millennia, but is now being discarded.  Yes, we now live in a country where you can kill your unborn child with taxpayer assistance and go to jail and face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for killing an eagle.

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” (Romans 1:25)  When did the Apostle Paul write that?  Was it in the first century or last month?