In parts of my town, signs have been popping up, proclaiming, “Hate has no home here.” The sentiment is understandable today. But does hate have a home here? For the Christian, it’s an indefensible position because we believe hate has made a home here due to living in a fallen world. We’re called to hate evil, but still love those who hate.
Sound contradictory? You’re not alone and certainly, this might sound like an inflammatory claim. Let’s take a brief tour around what the Bible has to say on the subject.
“God is love.” It’s a well-known verse taken straight out of I John 4:8. While this verse is well-known, it’s often taken out of context. If we want to see love defined, we can look at I Corinthians 13.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Incidentally, the Greek word for love in both passages is agape, so we’re talking about unconditional love. This is the kind of love we need to build healthy communities.
In contrast, consider a couple of other passages. These are found in the Old Testament and pre-date Christ.
Psalm 5:5 ”The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you [God] hate all evildoers. “
Psalm 11:5 “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”
Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
Some pretty profound revelations here. When it comes to engaging our culture in this conversation about hate, it’s clear from the Bible that God, who is by definition love, hates and is intolerant of certain things. A quick glance at this set of passages tells us that God hates evil.
But what is right and wrong? Evil and good?
As Creator of the universe, only God himself has the authority to define right and wrong. While He hasn’t given us a rule book for every situation, He has revealed what we need to live a life pleasing to him through his written word: the Bible.
So how do we wrestle with this seeming contradiction?
In Psalm 97, we see the command to hate evil. So hate is not something God holds onto for himself. A good person should hate evil.
Psalm 97:10 “O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”
Then later in Luke, we’re commanded to love our enemies. You can’t be an enemy if you’re on the same side, so Luke is making a distinction between our Christian brother and sisters who may very well hurt or wrong us and those who we would actually call enemies: non-believers who assail us.
Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
So here we have it – on one hand, we are to hate evil, but on the other, to love (again, agape) the evildoer. It seems like a contraction but is in line with God’s character.
Does Hate Have a Home Here?
Consider the Parkland shooting. Should we hate what happened? Of course! It’s terrible and we should hate every form of evil.
At the same time that we hate the evil, can we love the evildoer? Yes. We can be patient and kind, we can avoid arrogance, we can rejoice with the truth, and we can endure what has happened.
Hate has no home here? As much as I wish we could rid the world of sin, we can’t. And because of that, we must realize that we can and should hate evil in all of its forms. However, we can’t forsake the commandment to love at the same time.