Ten Mangled Words: Hate
Hate has become the only sin the left recognises. To them, it is apparently not possible to sin sexually, and any and every form of sexual sin is to be celebrated publicly. Slaughtering innocents (perhaps the most heinous form of murder) is to be cheered and encouraged. Stealing other people’s property is no sin if it is “redistributing” or “redressing inequality”. No authority or family bond is sacred; any and all can be dissolved in the name of statism, equality, tolerance or climate change. Lying and distortion have become commonplace. And what passes for arguments for “better living standards for all” or “the top 1% paying their fair share” is nothing more than coveting your neighbour’s goods. That’s commandments five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten that you can break with no guilt and regret.
But there is one sin, and it may be unpardonable. Hate is the sin that the left regards as the chiefest of evils. If your words can be classified as hate-speech, you can be jailed. If your actions can be construed as a hate-crime, you will be face the wrath of the law. If the courts don’t nab you, general society will. You may be called a “hater”, a bigot, a racist, a Nazi, and many other epithets before you’ve had the chance to tell your apoplectic neighbour that you actually love him or her.
What is this sin of hate? Asking the question of your accuser may bring a momentary puzzled silence. Hate has become a catch-all word for opposition. Whether you oppose something the left cherishes in a quiet, private way, or in a loud, public way, it will be considered hate. Whether your opposition is a religious belief that something is sin, or whether it is a practical concern with the impossibility of some leftist ideology, it will be considered hate. Whether it is refusing to recognise imaginary genders and use the corresponding pronouns, or whether it is simply insisting that you and your own house regard heterosexual marriage as the only natural way of human sexual relations, it will be considered hate. Whether you defend Christianity against attacks, or whether you evangelise others, it will be considered hate. Opposition is hate.
In other words, there is a Tower of Babel of ideologies. As long as you join and co-operate, you’re fine. Bow to the image, burn your incense to Caesar, take the Mark and you’re a good, enlightened Christian. As long as you do not oppose any of the popular positions held by the left elites, then you believe in love. If you actively or passively oppose those positions, then you believe in hate. And haters don’t deserve civility. That is, haters should be hated.
The childish partiality of this use of “hate” is transparently obvious for any with eyes to see. But for a Christian, the word hate has more complexity. After all, there are several Scriptures that actually commend hate.
You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. (Ps. 97:10)
Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. (Ps. 139:21-22)
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate. (Prov. 8:13)
Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. (Amos 5:15)
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. (Luk 14:26)
But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Rev 2:6 )
Granted, hate does not refer to the same thing in all those verses. But that is just the point. Scripture clearly has kinds of hatred that it commends, and kinds that it condemns.
Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins. (Prov. 10:12)
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: …idolatry, sorcery, hatred, … (Gal. 5:19-20)
So should we hate, or should we not? Is hate an Old Testament phenomenon? If we are to hate, what kind of hate is “righteous hate”?
To repair this mangled word, we should begin by finding out what kind of hatred God condemns. Second, we should investigate the kind of hatred God Himself exhibits and therefore expects his people to have. Third, we should understand how a right hatred affects our understanding of love, including love for our enemies.
About David de Bruyn
David de Bruyn pastors New Covenant Baptist Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a graduate of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Minnesota and the University of South Africa (D.Th.). Since 1999, he has presented a weekly radio program that is heard throughout much of central South Africa. He also blogs at Churches Without Chests.