Today in Sunday school we talked about an article from the February/March 2008 issue of byFaith Magazine entitled “Redeeming Hate,” written by Carl R. Trueman of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA.
In between references to not one, not two, but four different movies based upon their villains’ embodiment of hate ((See if you can guess the movies based upon the villains: Khan, Anakin, the Emperor, and Joker.)), we talked a lot about, well, hatred and how it ought to impact a Christian’s life.
Society today tells us hate is bad. Tolerance is excellent and acceptance even more so. But no matter what someone does, don’t hate them. ((Exceptions are given in the case of child molesters, who seem to get it worse from society than even murderers.))
What little society knows about God can be boiled down into the Santa Claus god who is full love love, kindness, patience, joy, happiness, and little else — certainly not any hate or wrath or judgment.
Frankly, society’s god is far too small and is no more worthy of worship than the fingernail clippers to my right or the large cardboard cutout of Optimus Prime atop my computer desk. ((If that last part surprises you, please go up and reread the second word in this site’s title a few times. ;-) ))
But what society does know (or think it knows) about God presents a problem for Christians. How can we associate ourselves, let alone God, with hate, when we know that “God is love”?
That is, after all, a biblical expression. God is love, and He is overflowing with it.
But does God also hate? Should we?
You’d have to have been living underneath a rock in a cave for quite some time to not be familiar with the phrase “Love the sinner; hate the sin.”
We’re pretty much all familiar with Scripture’s admonitions toward loving others, sinners included — we may even know it as the Golden Rule. So let’s add a quick Scripture reference to the second part of the phrase:
Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Psalm 119:104
Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, is a love song of devotion to and adoration of God and His Scriptures. “Every false way” is to be understood as anything which runs contrary to the Scriptures.
Hate adultery. Hate lying. Hate murder. Hate homosexuality. Hate the theory of evolution. Hate Islam. Hate divorce. Hate Mormonism. Hate secular humanism, atheism, agnosticism, and moral relativism. Every way which is contradictory or in violation of the Scriptures, it is to be both hated and rejected.
So is “Love the sinner; hate the sin” biblical? To a certain extent, I would have to say yes.
But again, we must turn to the Scriptures. Perhaps we have become so familiar and desensitized to that unqualified “love the sinner” clause that we think it simply must be scriptural.
Does God just hate the sin, or does His hate extend to the person as well?
Whenever that question comes up, my thoughts consistently return to a passage from the Proverbs:
There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16–19
That passage makes it clear that God doesn’t just hate the sin, He hates the sinner. It isn’t just the murder, it’s the murderer. It isn’t just the evil, it’s the person who’s running to it. It isn’t just the lie, it’s the liar.
I’ll point out at this point that according to the above Proverbs passage, each and every one of us is an abomination to God, apart from Christ.
So we’ve established that God both hates sin and the sinner. What about us? What ought our attitude be?
Here is the passage shared with us in Sunday school:
Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
21Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies. Psalm 139:19–22
Do not hate others because you are offended. Apart from Christ, you are no different than they are — a sinner deserving of everlasting hellfire & damnation.
Instead, our hate ought to be motivated by a jealousy for God, a passion for Him & His precepts.
That is why we should hate, and I believe it ought to begin within ourselves — where we are not conformed to the image of Christ, we ought to hate ourselves, which leads me past the “why” of hate and into the practicality of it: Our hate ought to inspire us to take action.
As was said this morning, “The way in which we hate people is to love them.”
Godly hate, as described in Psalm 139, immediately brings to mind the consequences of those things which are invoking the hate.
Knowing this, inwardly directed hatred ought to motivate us to repent of those things which are marring the image of Christ that we may draw nigh unto Him.
Outwardly directed hatred ought to motivate us to speak the truth in love, ((Ephesians 4:15.)) always warning of the judgment to come. ((Ezekiel 33:6.))
That is the purpose of biblical hate, as I’m understanding it, and just as they have done with love, society has corrupted the concept of hate so that when we think about it, we think of a hate which inspires men like Adolf Hitler or Charles Manson or even the movie villains mentioned above.
I’d be very interested in anyone else’s ideas regarding the biblical concept of hate. Given the two simple facts that God hates and that society corrupts everything it touches, including the definition of hate, then we must diligently attempt to define hate and the practice thereof biblically. Our understanding of the character of God is at stake.