Love is always right.
Hate is always wrong.
Could any moral truth be more self-evident? Especially for us as followers of Jesus Christ, who commands us to “love one another, even as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) We know from scripture that “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) Conversely, we also know from God’s Word that “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar.” (1 John 4:20) The truly loving nature of God towards mankind is perhaps the most central message of the Gospel that we aim to communicate to the world. Particularly in today’s culture which aims to characterize Christianity as hateful, bigoted, and self-righteous, it seems as though the stakes have never been higher to consistently display the love of God to the world in our attitudes and actions.
So, if our calling is to walk in love, is hate ever justified?
The way that the world (and much of the church) thinks about hate, you would certainly think not. We have all seen signs, bumper stickers, and PSA’s displaying messages like “stop the hate,” or “hate has no place here,” or “spread love, not hate.” These relentless campaigns against “hate” have been so effective that even raising the suggestion that hate could ever be justified for a Christian provokes a very natural response of indignation.
Consider, however, the words of our Lord Jesus who said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Is Jesus truly commanding us to hate our families… and even our own lives?
Before examining this challenging message from Jesus, it’s important for us to recognize an important truth about hate: hate is a necessary component of love. In order for you to love something, it requires that you naturally hate that which harms it. If you truly love people, for example, you will naturally hate murder. If you love children, you will hate pedophilia. In fact, if you found out that someone did not hate pedophilia, you would rightly reject any claim they made about loving children. How could you possibly love one without hating the other? If you love the truth (as God does), you will hate lies. Likewise, if you love God Himself, you will hate the things that He hates.
God… hates? How could this be, given that according to 1 John 4:16, God Himself is love? When we have a proper understanding of love and hate, that they are not opposites, per se, but components one of another, we can easily make sense of the scriptures which tell us things like “there are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him…” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
God’s love for mankind is not incongruent with His hatred for these things we do. It is precisely because of His love for us that He hates these things that harm us. God hates sin. The Apostle Paul admonishes us by the Holy Spirit, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) In context, Paul is instructing the church on how to act out love towards people. It’s very interesting that he begins his entire instruction by pointing out that in order for our love to be sincere, we must hate what is evil.
There’s a saying within Christianity that “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.” When it comes to our unsaved friends and family, though, we often feel as though we can’t consistently do the same. We feel that if we hate what they are doing, we are hating them. This is an improper understanding of love. Loving someone does not necessitate celebration and affirmation of their choices. If we accept love on these terms, then we cannot believe that “God is love” if He also “cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” (Habakkuk 1:13)
In Jude 22-23, the Bible says, “Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” We absolutely need to be merciful and loving to God’s fearfully and wonderfully-made people… and in doing so, have a righteous and holy hatred for the sin that is dragging them to Hell. We need to hate the sin in our own lives with just as much fervor. We must not accept an indifferent attitude towards the things that God hates. The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. A necessary component of acting out that commandment is to hate sin in the same manner.
This brings us back to Jesus’s challenging word about needing to hate in order to be His disciple. Is Jesus commanding us to literally hate our families and selves? Certainly not. This would contradict many of His other teachings about love. The point is that Jesus expects us as His disciples to have absolute contempt for anything that would stand between us and Him, no matter how precious it is to us, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
So, is love always right? Not if you love sin. Love is only as good as the object of your love.
Therefore, is hate always wrong? Not if you hate evil. Hate is only as wrong as the object of your hate.
Master Control Operator
Rocky Mountain CTN
At Rocky Mountain CTN our mission is focused on empowering viewers to discover a fulfilled life by providing relevant media that connects people to God and community to change our culture. This blog is made up of thoughts to start that change.
(Chrome Browser will not work with the RSS Feed)