One of the Ten Commandments says “Thou shall not kill.” This means that anyone who kills is not only in violation of God’s law but also liable for God’s punishment. This commandment has opened a can of worms in how we deal with wildlife – and especially insects. Does it mean that it is wrong to kill an insect too?
No, killing bugs is not a sin. It might be wrong in some instances depending on your reasons but it is not a sin. Man was given dominion over everything God created – including insects. Because of this dominion mandate, man can kill insects if he wants and it will not be a sin in God’s books.
Thou Shall Not Kill Explained
In Exodus 20:6, we find this commandment (the sixth commandment). If we were to take this command at face value, then we would all be guilty of violating it. At some point in life, we have either knowingly or unknowingly killed an insect. Even just by taking a walk, you may step on an insect thereby killing it without even realizing it. But that is not what this commandment was for. The sixth commandment was specifically given to deal with murdering fellow humans. Any kind of premeditated murder is prohibited in the scripture and violators of the law were to also undergo capital punishment. Suffice it to say, that the command of not killing should not be used as a reason why it is a sin to kill insects. It only applies to mankind.
After God created everything, the Bible says he put man in the garden to “till it and keep it.” He also gave the following charge to mankind.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28
Man was given dominion over the works of God’s hands. God specifically mentioned that man should rule over fish, birds, and terrestrial animals (including insects). The King James refers to them as the “creeping things that creep on earth.”
Having dominion can mean any number of things but the most important meaning is that the animals were created to serve man. That explains why man has domesticated animals over the years and today, once wild animals are now considered pets. In a way, this is exercising dominion.
It is worth noting that the command to have dominion was over all God’s creation except fellow man. God expected Adam to dominate all animals and plants but not to dominate other humans. That is why the command of thou shall not kill only applies to man. When you kill an insect, it is, therefore, a way of exercising dominion and it is not a sin. There are several good reasons why you may want to kill insects (and why it wouldn’t be a sin). These include:
Killing insects for food
There are millions of insect species on the globe and a good chunk of these are considered edible in the different societies/nations. Communities that live in wet regions have lots of insects and as such, they eat insects more than other communities. Even though the subject of eating insects is controversial, it is worth noting that it is not a sin. In the Old Testament, God even gave directions to Israelites on the types of insects they should eat.
All winged insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you. But you may eat these kinds of all the winged insects that walk on all fours: those that have jointed legs above their feet for hopping on the ground. You may eat these: any kind of locust, katydid, cricket, and grasshopper. All other winged insects that have four feet are to be detestable to you. Leviticus 11:20-23.
It would therefore be safe to infer that killing insects for food is not a sin in God’s eyes. In fact, the Bible says that all creatures that God made are good for food as long as they are received with prayer and thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4-5).
Killing insects for protection
The other reason why we kill insects is as a way of protecting ourselves, our crops, and domestic animals from harm. If you have a kitchen garden, you know only too well the kind of havoc bugs can cause to your crop. If left undeterred, you will have very little and low-quality produce. Bugs can also be parasitic which means they live on a host. A good example is ticks and mites which love hatching on animals. If you have pets or other domestic animals, you will want to keep these pests at bay. Not only will the bugs reduce the quality of life for your animals but they are also known to cause diseases. Some of these bugs can also be transferred to humans and thereby cause diseases to them as well. As such, you may want to apply some pesticides to ensure the bugs are kept at bay.
Killing insects to improve the quality of life
Another reason why you may want to kill bugs is to improve the quality of your life. For instance, if termites attack your house, it is only a matter of time before they cause irreparable damage. However, if you deal with them quickly, you will avoid the huge losses that you might have incurred. Another example is a hornet’s nest that is on your patio. If you have pets and little children in the house, it is better to play safe and remove the bugs. Not only will it keep your family safe but also improves your curb appeal.
There are a lot of moral issues that elicit sharp debates on the issue of killing insects. While we may not agree on whether or not we should kill them, at least we can authoritatively state that the Bible doesn’t say killing insects is a sin. So it is more of a personal conviction. If you feel compelled not to harm any insect, then you should avoid it. However, if you kill an insect, do not condemn yourself for it because it is not a sin.