Category: Hate


Jesus was on a roll.

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (Matt. 23:13).

Addressing his primary antagonists, the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus built their unflattering profile at the beginning of Matthew 23 and then hammered them eight different times repetitively calling them hypocrites (vv. 13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29), blind (vv. 16, 17, 19, 24. 26), fools (vs. 17), lawless (vs. 28), and ending with this grand finale:

“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matt. 23:33).

You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in theology or doctorate in Jewish studies to figure out that pious Jews don’t take well to being symbolically linked to the animal most associated with the devil. But that didn’t stop Jesus from telling them that’s who they were like.

Now, if this scene were played out on the Internet and media stage of 2013, how do you think Jesus would have been portrayed and characterized?

“Hater!”

“Phariseephobe!”

“Intolerant!”

I guarantee that Jesus’ words would be labeled as ‘hate speech’ and he’d be unfriended by countless on Facebook who would see his talk as ‘unacceptable’ for today’s times.

Whether it’s the recent Chik-fil-A episode or something similar, the #1 most used tactic in the public square to counter any criticism of personal actions or lifestyle is labeling the opposing argument or statement as hate speech. Never mind that the one making the claim is likely demonstrating their intense dislike (a.k.a. ‘hate’) for the one they’re opposing.

Are the ones constantly crying hate speech right in their accusations or have they redefined what hate is and given birth to a new term whose sole purpose is to wrongly stigmatize the opposition and further their agenda? Let’s take a look to find out, while also examining how Christians are commanded to handle themselves in today’s volatile environment.

What is Hate and Hate Speech?

Dictionary.com defines ‘hate’ in the following way:

hate   [heyt]  , hat•ed, hat•ing, noun verb (used with object)
1. to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest: to hate the enemy; to hate bigotry.
2. to be unwilling; dislike: I hate to do it.
3. to feel intense dislike, or extreme aversion or hostility.

Now, I’m guessing that most everyone would agree with the above definition. Moreover, all would likely not argue that there are genuine times that something should be hated. Like Solomon said, there is “A time to love and a time to hate” (Ecc. 3:8).

However in today’s postmodern culture, it’s no surprise that the term ‘hate’ has been clandestinely redefined in the public arena where ideas are exchanged. The postmodern philosophy, which can succinctly be defined as a worldview that affirms no truth (except, of course, the truth that no truth can be affirmed…), carries with it a linguistic component that distorts both what words mean and how they are used.

Beginning with the Swiss linguist Saussure and continuing with other philosophers such as Wittgenstein and Derrida, the idea of redefining words by the individual has led up to where words like ‘hate’ are changed to be something much different than what they actually are.

Today, ‘hate’ has been altered to signify: any attitude or expression that opposes how I behave, and what I want to do and practice.

This is oftentimes classified as the terminological fallacy, which is when a term is altered and then used to support a position or argument. For example, it can be seen in the definition of hate speech that comes from uslegal.com:

“Hate speech is a communication that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence. It is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like. Hate speech can be any form of expression regarded as offensive to racial, ethnic and religious groups and other discrete minorities or to women.”

All seems well with the definition up until the final sentence. Is an expression of hatred to be equated simply with what offends a particular person or group? If so, then classify Jesus as a purveyor of hate speech.

Should Christians Ever Hate?

This raises the questions of if Christians should really hate anything, and if so, how that hatred should be expressed. The Bible is not shy when it comes to answering ‘yes’ to the question of if hatred is, at times, appropriate. However, the object of hate is important to see and understand:

“There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers” (Prov. 6:16–19).

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows” (Psalm 45:7).

“From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104).

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate” (Prov. 8:13).

“’These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,’ declares the Lord” (Zech. 8:16–17).

“Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” (Rev. 2:6).

Sin, evil, and that which opposes God’s truth are to be hated. But people? Jesus is clear: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43–44).

But such a thing doesn’t mean that difficult confrontations, like those recorded in Matthew 23, won’t ever happen.

What Should Christian Speech Sound Like?

Once we understand what Christians should and should not hate, we next need to know how we should go about expressing it. Again, the Bible is clear:

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Scripture says there is a right and wrong way to tell someone they have a spot on their shirt, and makes it plain how we are to go about telling someone that. This does not mean, however, that we are to stay silent when confronted with actions and behavior God dislikes. Paul warns us to, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph. 5:11). A good example of the wrong way to do this would be how the Westboro Baptist church handles things, whereas a right way would be how Chik-fil-A’s Dan Cathy went about affirming traditional marriage.

What about invoking violence (which is part of the uslegal’s hate speech definition)? Again, the Bible is unmistakable on the subject: “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates” (Psalm 11:5).

One thing is certain though – even when we do speak up in the biblical way, we can most times expect a reaction from the world that mirrors what Jesus experienced with His corrective teachings and rebukes.

What Should Christians Expect?

Jesus finished one of his discourses in a very interesting way: “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” (Matt. 11:6). The word “offense” in the Greek is “skandalizo” from where we get the word “scandal”. It means to shock through word or action, or give offense to and anger.

The truth is, Jesus and His teachings do cause offense; the Bible specifically said He would: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (Rom. 9:33).

When the world gets offended, you can expect some of those who decry hate speech to use the most hateful words in existence against those who stand against them. This, too, is spelled out clearly in the Bible:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:18–19).

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13).

The truth is, it is not hate or hate speech that reproves a person for sinful behavior. In fact, it is just the opposite.

Speaking the truth about sin has also never been popular; it always has offended and it always will. But, Billy Graham makes an important point about Who to care most about in this regard when he says, “Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone – except God”.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 may seem harsh, but they were spot on, appropriate for those who had blasphemed God’s Spirit (cf. Matt. 12:32), and were in no way hate speech. Pointing out moral wrongs and sinful behavior is not hate, but instead it can be the most loving thing a person can do because ungodly actions have eternal consequences. Jesus’ words, plus the work of the apostles, evidently hit the mark with some of their opponents because the book of Acts records the following: “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7, my emphasis).

Some will receive God’s corrections and some will not, with the reactions telling you much about the person with whom you are dealing: “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you” (Prov. 9:8).

No matter the response, our reaction should always be to continuously share the gospel message (Matt. 28:18), bless those who persecute (Rom. 12:14), bear up well under any abuse (1 Pet. 4:16), and respectfully ask those who oppose God’s teachings, “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16).

Advertisements

A working definition of hate speech is “speech that is intended to insult, intimidate, or cause prejudice against a person or people based on their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, political affiliation, occupation, disability, or physical appearance.” If that is the accepted definition, a Christian should never participate in hate speech. However, the problem is that the definition of hate speech is broadening over time. Proclaiming that a certain belief is wrong or that a certain activity is sinful, based on biblical principles, is increasingly being included in the definition of hate speech.

Ephesians 4:15 refers to “speaking the truth in love.” First Peter 3:15 instructs Christians to defend their faith, but to do so “with gentleness and respect.” Colossians 4:6 proclaims, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” Sadly, some Christians fail to follow these biblical instructions. Some Christians (or at least people who claim to be Christians) speak the truth, but speak it in such a way that it is very hateful. One prominent example would be Westboro Baptist Church and its “God hates fags” slogan. Westboro Baptist Church is correct in declaring the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is sinful, but they are declaring this truth in such a way that it is intended to be incendiary, offensive, and hurtful. Needless to say, the Bible does not support such methods.

It is likely that in the near future, governments will begin declaring more speech as hate speech, thereby making it illegal. In some parts of the world, it is illegal to say that homosexuality is a sin. In some countries, it is illegal to declare one religion right and other religions wrong. This steady broadening of what qualifies as hate speech could eventually lead to any effort to evangelize being declared hate speech, since it would be “hateful” to tell a person that what he/she currently believes is incorrect.

What the perpetrators of this expanded hate speech definition fail to realize (or admit) is that to tell someone the truth is an act of love, not hate. Is it hateful for a teacher to tell a student that his/her answer is wrong? Is it hateful for a building inspector to tell a construction company that they are building on a faulty foundation? Of course, the answer to these questions is no. However, that is precisely the illogic that is being applied to current hate speech legislation. Telling someone that his/her religious views are wrong is somehow hateful. Telling someone that his/her lifestyle is immoral is somehow hateful. The logic is not, in any sense, consistent with how truth is determined in other areas of society.

At Altruistico, our goal is to speak the truth in love. We do not hate Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rather, we simply believe that these groups are making some serious theological and biblical errors. We do not hate homosexuals, adulterers, pornographers, transsexuals, or fornicators. Rather, we simply believe that those who commit such acts are making immoral and ungodly decisions. Telling someone that he/she is in the wrong is not hateful. In reality, refusing to tell someone the truth is what is truly hateful. Declaring the speaking of truth, presented respectfully, to be hate speech, is, in fact, the ultimate demonstration of hate.

What does the Bible say about hate?

Biblically speaking, there are positive and negative aspects to hatred. It is  acceptable to hate those things that God hates; indeed, this is very much a  proof of a right standing with God. “Let those who love the Lord hate evil” (Psalm 97:10a). Indeed, the  closer our walk with the Lord and the more we fellowship with Him, the more  conscious we will be of sin, both within and without. Do we not grieve and burn  with anger when God’s name is maligned, when we see spiritual hypocrisy, when we  see blatant unbelief and godless behavior? The more we understand God’s  attributes and love His character, the more we will be like Him and the more we  will hate those things that are contrary to His Word and nature.

However, the hatred that is negative surely has to be that which is directed  against others. The Lord mentions hatred in the Sermon  on the Mount: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will  be subject to judgment” (Matthew  5:22). The Lord commands that not only should we be reconciled with our  brother before we go before the Lord, but also that we do it quickly (Matthew 5:23-26). The  act of murder itself was certainly condemned, but hatred is a “heart” sin, and  any hateful thought or act is an act of murder in God’s eyes for which justice  will be demanded, possibly not in this life but at the judgment. So heinous is  the position of hate before God that a man who hates is said to be walking in  darkness, as opposed to the light (1 John 2:911). The  worst situation is that of a man who continues professing religion but remains  at enmity with his brother. The Scriptures declare that such a person is a liar  (1 John  4:20), and he may fool men, but not God. How many believers live for years  pretending that all is well, putting on a front, only to be found finally  wanting because they have harbored enmity (hatred) against a fellow  believer?

Hatred is a poison that destroys us from within, producing  bitterness that eats away at our hearts and minds. This is why the Scriptures  tell us not to let a “root of bitterness” spring up in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15). Hatred  also destroys the personal witness of a Christian because it removes him from  fellowship with the Lord and other believers. Let us be careful to do as the  Lord advised and keep short accounts with everyone about everything, no matter  how small, and the Lord will be faithful to forgive, as He has promised (1 John 1:9; 2:1).