Hate suffers a bad reputation these days. Its public image sits in a state of disrepair, not unlike that of cigarettes or the Kardashians. Few give much love to hate. We label those with whom we disagree haters. If those with whom we disagree assemble, we call them a hate group. If they say something that we find offensive, then surely it is hate speech. Hate has never been so vilified.
I, however, sympathize with hate, and I want briefly to encourage you to cultivate a healthy relationship with hate. Why? Love. Love is the reason why you should hate.
Imagine that a belief is circulating among your neighbors, which many of them have embraced. The belief is this: If you include a small amount of arsenic in your coffee in the morning and in your wine in the evening, it will stave off cancer. Your neighbors desire a cancer-free life, and they have come wholeheartedly to believe that arsenic consumption is the way to achieve it.
You love your neighbors and want their best, and you know that their arsenic habit will eventually kill them. Because you love them you speak out, opposing their practice, but they turn on you and call you a hater. They have mistaken the target of your hate. You don’t hate your neighbor; you hate a belief that you know has deceived and will ultimately destroy your neighbor. You hate the belief because you love your neighbor.
Suppose I reject belief in voodoo. I do not hate people who practice voodoo. I am, however, convinced that the belief itself is unbiblical, and that if followed it will—like every other false belief, sin, or idol—ultimately enslave and ruin those who live according to it. I hate this belief without in any way hating the people who are living according to it. In fact, it is because I love the people—and want them to thrive both now and forevermore—that I hate the belief that ruins them. If I did not hate such beliefs, how could I truly claim to love the people affected by them? If I love you, I will hate that which hurts you. If I love you, I will hate that which enslaves you. If I love you, I will hate that which kills you. Sometimes the best way to love is to hate.
Consider Jesus. He hated the beliefs of the Pharisees. They had turned the Law of God, which was supposed to lead sinners to their Savior, into both a triviality and a crushing burden. Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers, for their belief that it was acceptable to run a marketplace during a worship service deprived God’s people of access to His house of prayer. Jesus likewise opposed the beliefs of the Sadducees—who denied the resurrection—because their belief robbed God’s people of the great hope that their Savior would one day redeem them soul and body for an eternity in His Kingdom. Jesus hated these false beliefs, for they hurt, enslaved, and crushed God’s people. He hated those beliefs because He loved His people so fiercely.
Christian, do you have a healthy relationship with hate? Do you love the lost enough to hate the beliefs that ruin them? Do you love them enough to say so? If you are genuinely convinced that your neighbor whom you love believes in the spiritual equivalent of arsenic consumption, then you cannot in good conscience stand by in silence while he takes his twice-daily dose of death. If you love your neighbor you will hate the beliefs that destroy him. You will also say so, knowing that he might mistake the target of your hatred; he might think you hate him when in fact you hate the belief that is killing him.
But if you love your neighbor, you will risk everything to save him.
Hate is not all bad. Properly understood hate serves love. Maybe there is no repairing the public reputation of cigarettes or of Kardashians, but surely hate can be rehabilitated.
Because sometimes, I love you so much I hate.