Does exterminating mice and insects break the commandment not to kill?

Questions & Answers August 11, 2017

Q: If all animals are God’s creatures that we should respect, how do I reconcile killing house pests such as mice and insects? — Joey, from the United States

A: Joey, others have also wondered about this, and you might find it interesting — and helpful — to read Ellen White’s straightforward answer to this question. In “Selected Messages,” Book 3, we read the following:

“There are those who say that nothing, not even insects, should be killed. God has not entrusted any such message to his people. It is possible to stretch the command ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to any limit; but it is not according to sound reasoning to do this. Those who do it have not learned in the school of Christ.

“This earth has been cursed because of sin, and in these last days vermin of every kind will multiply. These pests must be killed, or they will annoy and torment and even kill us, and destroy the work of our hands and the fruit of our land.

“In places there are ants [termites] which entirely destroy the woodwork of houses. Should not these be destroyed? Fruit trees must be sprayed, that the insects which would spoil the fruit may be killed. God has given us a part to act, and this part we must act with faithfulness. Then we can leave the rest with the Lord.

“God has given no man the message, Kill not ant or flea or moth. Troublesome and harmful insects and reptiles we must guard against and destroy, to preserve ourselves and our possessions from harm. And even if we do our best to exterminate these pests, they will still multiply” (p. 329).