Personally, praying mantises give me the “creeps.” I am not like a friend of mine who, as a child, kept a praying mantis named, “Barbara” in his bedroom. To me, there has always been something sinister and austere about them. After reading about their reproductive habits, I had more reason to feel this way.
As a part of the mating process, the male praying mantis is actually eaten by the female! If a male is lucky, the female will wait until during or after the ritual to eat him. Other males may be consumed simply because they came too close at the wrong time. For the male praying mantis, it’s not a matter of if he’ll be eaten but when.
Now, you’re probably asking, “If God is good and kind, why would He create a relationship like this? After all, isn’t mating supposed to be about love?”
I suggest that this is about love but maybe not in the way our culture has come to know it.
Obviously, conditions were different before sin entered the world through the Fall of Adam. Most likely, a male praying mantis could still hope to become a “daddy” in those perfect conditions.
Yet, even in the fallen conditions of today, could God be illustrating His love to mankind through such a gruesome and grizzly act as this? It wouldn’t be the first time. After all, Christ suffered a hideous death for the sins of the world.
Is it possible that the male praying mantis offers his life to the female? Could it be that he willingly supplies nutrition to the female so she can produce their next generation?
Obviously we are speaking anthropomorphically, but if the Lord of creation would do it, why not one of His creatures? I believe this adds new meaning to the words of Christ in John 12:24 where He said, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” In Ephesians, Paul encourages men to love their wives as their own flesh and to nourish and cherish them. Whoa! No room for macho, praying mantis playboys in this backyard! Rather than being the victim, the male praying mantis may actually be the hero.
Originally published in the Summer 2004 issue of Think and Believe