“Hate” is just about the only sin left standing in the 21st century; we can do anything but hate. In fact, to say anything is wrong is to hate, and to be called a “hater” is the ultimate insult. New “hate-crime” laws in Europe are targetting anyone who makes anyone feel hated (regardless of whether they were hated or not).
We used to hear teenagers respond to parental correction with, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!” and laugh: “It’ll pass.” Now mature adults respond to any moral disagreement with, “You hate me, you hate me, you hate me!” and we fear we are on the way to prison, or at least to losing our jobs or businesses.
Chicken burgers are transformed into hate-burgers by expressions of support for biblical marriage. Call someone a “hater,” and you don’t need to even listen to their views, no matter how reasonably or calmly stated.
Standing up for hate
Well, I’m going to stand up for “hate.” In fact, I want to see a revival of hate in our churches and in our society. I’m not talking about the sinful hate that attacks people with vicious words or wicked actions. I’m talking about holy hate, the kind of hate we find commanded and commended in the Bible (Ps. 97:10), the hate that loathes and opposes anything that dishonors God and harms humanity.
“But Jesus loved everybody!”
Yes, Jesus loved every single one of his neighbors, perfectly. But He also hated sin with perfect hatred. So much so that such hate was one of the proofs of His divinity (Heb. 1:9). It was His holy hate of Pharisaical double standards that put a whip in His hand to drive conmen out of the Temple. It was His holy hate of sin that propelled Him to Calvary’s cross to save sinners. It was His holy hate of the Devil that inspired Him to defeat and destroy him.
It was the hate of tyrannical slavery that mobilized Wilberforce and other abolitionists. It was the hate of enslaving and dehumanizing false religion that motivated William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and many other missionaries to give their lives for the salvation of faraway nations. It was the hate of Nazi principles and practice that motivated Churchill, Roosevelt and millions of soldiers. It was the hate of sinful discrimination and prejudice that empowered the civil rights movement.
It’s the hate of sexual abuse that campaigns against the international sex trade in young boys and girls. It’s the hate of alcoholism and drug addiction that calls thousands of Christians to seek out the perishing on our cities’ streets and in homeless shelters. It’s the hate of baby-slaughter that lines the sidewalks of abortion clinics with loving pro-life counselors. It’s the hate of drunk driving’s massive human and financial cost ($132 billion in the US every year) that propels MADD.
What hatred was made for
In They don’t make hate like they used to, Lars Walker refers to C. S. Lewis’s space novel, Perelandra, where the hero, Ransom, makes a moral decision to use his fists to fight a demonic spirit that had possessed a man:
Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over him – a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful hatred. The energy of hating, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing fully to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose in his arms and legs till he felt that they were pillars of burning blood….It is perhaps difficult to understand why this filled Ransom not with horror but with a kind of joy. The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for.
Yes, hatred has a moral purpose. In fact, without it, we are quite simply no longer moral. Morality requires not just a love for what’s right but a hatred for what’s wrong. We cannot love anything without hating its opposite. We cannot love our neighbor without hating what harms him or our society.
The big question
That being so, the big question is not whether moral hatred is right. The question is: “What is moral? How are we to decide what is wrong? What are we to hate?”
The alternatives are certainly becoming clearer: Jesus’ biblical values or Rahm Emmanuel’s “Chicago values?”
Tomorrow we will look at how Christians are to hate (and here it is).