Is the term “hate” too strong? As Christian’s, aren’t we supposed to love our fellow believers, and love our enemies too? Indeed, the Bible has many references to the concept of love. But, equally, the Bible has many references to the concept of hate too.
For example, the Bible implicitly describes things that God hates in the various laws he has provided—in the things he has told his followers not to do. However, it is also explicit in mentioning the things that he hates, like robbery (Isaiah 61:8) and divorce (Malachi 2:16). In addition, the Bible explicitly states that believers are to hate wickedness (Psalm 45:7), evil (Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 8:13; Amos 5:15; Romans 12:9), and what is false (Proverbs 13:5). Furthermore, according to Ecclesiastes, for believers, there is a not only a time to love, but a time to hate too (Ecclesiastes 3:8).
So, is “hate” too strong, for a Christian? I don’t think so. But we do need to keep the concepts of “love” and “hate” in balance.
Having said, we need to remember, that what we might call “evil” is not necessarily what God calls “evil”. Indeed, in the Bible we are reminded, time after time, that the term “evil” describes what people do in putting put a wedge between themselves and God. Hence the book of Kings is very good at describing the kings of Israel and Judah in terms of whether they were good at restoring faith in God, or whether they allowed or encouraged people to worship other gods. They either did “good” in the eyes of God, or they did “evil”.
The things that we should “hate” then, are the things that create a wedge or a barrier between us and God, and between us and the world as God created it to be.
So, what is it that I “hate”?
Well, the first thing I hate, is when people do not show God his due. And an example of that can be seen in the attitudes of people who claim to believe in God. After all, many people say they believe, but they do so on their own terms. God is redefined into something that people are comfortable with. And invariably who he is, is watered down to the mediocre, so that sin is not taken seriously either.
And examples of that can be seen in society. For example, the well-worn phrase “The true meaning of Christmas … (or Easter), is often used to describe happy, family times, rather than the birth (or death) of the Messiah. And the term “The ultimate sacrifice,” used in terms of soldiers who died in war, allows little room for comparison with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—which was something he did voluntarily, as an act of obedience to the Father.
Yes, it is very easy to remake God in own image, and our society today seem to be a master at it. And, yet, that is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible takes seriously the concepts of who he is, and who we are. It also takes seriously the concept of sin—the things that separates the people from himself. Furthermore, it takes seriously the pains that God has gone to, to bridge the gap, to allow his creation to be considered worthy to live with him in eternity. As a consequence, any denigration of who he is, denies the reality of God, and denies the reality of sin.
So, whilst the Bible describes the lengths that God has gone to, so that people can enjoy fulfilling, and eternal relationships with him, many people today treat him as though none of that matters. Indeed, that only they know what’s best for them.
The second thing I hate, is when people are more concerned about themselves than the health of the community. Now that might seem a rough thing to say, yet we live in a society which is very “me” orientated.
So, for example, we hear expressions like, “I want …”, “I deserve …”, and “What’s in it for me?” And the “me” society is very evident in the way advertising is targeted, and how election campaigns are run. Indeed, follow everything that is thrown at you from the television (which is simply a reflection of our society), and you have our selfish, self-centred community in a nutshell. Yes, of course, there are some bright lights in the community, but generally people seem more concerned about their own welfare than on the well-being of others.
And if that’s true of the community then it’s also true of our churches too. Indeed, our churches suffer from people who come when they feel like it, or come for what they can get out of it, rather than for what they can contribute to the life of the faith community.
And yet, the idea of the individual being more important than the community is not the model that God has given us. Indeed, in the Ten Commandments and in the numerous laws in the Old Testament God’s focus is on what is needed for a healthy, faithful community. So, juggling his rules, and tossing out the bits we don’t like, means that we are effectively reinventing God’s idea of community.
There are reasons why God provided certain rules for a healthy community. And even though some may think they know better, or some may think “What’s the harm, I’m not hurting anyone,” we corrupt God’s plan when we change them. Messing with God’s laws will only end in the destruction of the community. Yes, it might be a long slow process, but the community will fail none-the-less.
And the third thing I hate, is the fact that when you disagree with someone these days, you are at risk of being labelled a “hater.” Indeed “hate speech” has become a rather common and unfortunate term given to people who disagree with the way society is headed.
Now obviously, some people are inflicted with the language of hate—and that’s sad. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who disagrees with modern trends has a phobia, or hates certain people. On the contrary, the Christian view should be an expression of the godly standards we have inherited. It should not be seen as a hateful attack on an individual or a group. But unfortunately, that is the way contrary beliefs are often seen.
In a kind of irony, the attack on Christian beliefs on the structures of the family and the community often borders on bullying—the very thing our society say needs to be removed from our society. And yet, the way our politicians behave to one another, and that way our sportsmen play, suggests that bullying is very well-entrenched at all levels of our society. And there seems no intention of resolving that any time soon.
People have learnt that you if you shout and scream you have a greater chance of being heard. Therefore, the term “hate speech” is often heard to be used against those with a contrary view, in order for people to get their own way.
Now all three things that I’ve mentioned fit into the category of putting a wedge between people and God. Reinventing God effectively denies who is, and denies the reality of sin. Reinventing the family and community structures denies the structures that God set up for a healthy community. And bullying people who are trying to uphold godly principles, is an attack against God and his sense of community. And all three things meet the criteria of things to “hate” described in the pages of the Bible.
So, should Christian’s “hate”? Yes, they should. But they should only hate those things that attack who God is, the reality of sin, and what is needed to be build a healthy community. There needs to be a balance between “love” and “hate.” And getting that balance right is something that we need God’s help with, in order to get it right.
Posted: 9th May 2017
© 2017, Brian A Curtis