I love the macho bravado in the air this time of year. We have on one hand every armchair quarterback giving his or her reviews of the most recent game—what season is it anyway? We have school pride in the air, hunting season on the way, and of course, with the cooler temperatures coming we have the last big movement of snakes. I often get tagged in posts on social media sites showing some mangled snake asking for my post mortem identification of the slithering offender. 99 percent of the time the alleged venomous snake is merely a misidentified harmless snake that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That rare moment when someone actually kills a rightly identified venomous snake is usually met with heroic praise by the online peanut gallery. Such comments as “the only good snake is a dead snake” and “you’ve got to kill them ‘cause it’s like leaving a loaded gun on a playground” are simply absurd and rooted deeply in ignorance and fear.
I realize that some snakes carry venom that is potentially harmful and even life threatening to humans but let’s be honest, when was the last time you heard of someone being bitten by a viper that didn’t first harass the snake. I know of one occasion where a dear friend of mine was moving logs on a woodpile and got tagged on the leg by a copperhead. That seems to be a more unusual occurrence and not the norm. Statistically most snakebite victims are males in their early 20’s and alcohol is typically involved. I imagine that most of those incidences probably start out with the phrase “hey buddy hold my beer and watch this.” You can avoid envenomation by simply letting the snake slink off to hits much-preferred hiding spot.
After doing a quick internet search I saw that only around 12 people per year die from snake related injuries but almost 3 times that number die yearly in the US from dog attacks. Can we use that same logic to villianize dogs? I mean the only good one is a dead one in my opinion—only not really. So why are snakes different than dogs in the public eye?
Why do we fear snakes so much? Is it so deeply rooted in our interpretation of the Genesis account that we ultimately hate snakes because of their satanic representation? I get that Genesis 3:15 says God will put enmity between humanity and the serpent but weighing Scripture against scripture we see where God says in Genesis 1:31 that all of his creation was “very good.” So at least the original design was for snakes to be good and for humans to live harmoniously with them. Of course the curse changed EVERYTHING but we can see in Numbers 21 where Moses held up a bronze staff with a serpent on top of it and by faith the people who looked on it were healed. Subsequently they were healed of their snakebites but lets just look past that. Medically we are finding benefits from snakes all of the time. Copperheads are used in cancer research, rattlesnakes in heart and stroke medication, so on and so forth. The initial design was for good and post-curse we just have to dig a bit deeper to see it.
What is the purpose of this rant? My heart is to show that we need not fear any animal. Even from a Biblical perspective God has given us dominion and charge over creation. He calls us to steward the resources He created for us. God didn’t create anything that was bad, so despite your best well placed hatred for snakes, God created them and they’re something to be valued. I pray you can find the value in things created all around you and then give the glory right back to God, the one who created it all!