I’m a hater, or perhaps it is more accurate to say I once was, because today with the Lord right there, I work very hard not to hate. I speak up about hatred a lot too, and am forever insisting hatred is not a Christian value. That wisdom and stubborn insistence I suppose, comes from being intimately acquainted with the harm that hatred can do, with how easy it is to get it all wrong.
There are many passages in the bible that speak of hating the things the Lord hates, that speak of how we should hate what is evil, that speak of how God Himself hates some things. That’s all true, but here’s where I think we often go wrong in our understanding. Parts of the bible are descriptive, rather than prescriptive. King David for example, is lamenting and confessing, he is speaking the truth of himself to God, he is saying, search my heart, oh Lord. He is not actually commanding us to hate.
Psalm 137:9, every atheist’s favorite verse, is another example of expressing emotion in a descriptive way. It is also not a commandment.
Isaiah 12:16 is another favorite of mine, a favorite of all haters who like to word things with some creativity, “may your houses be plundered and your wives ravished!” It’s almost as good as “may a thousand fleas infest your camels and find their way to your underwear.” It’s hatred born of rage and frustration and sorrow and trauma.
My own hatred was born of reason, quite rational, valid, justified even, virtuous. I hated all the “right” things, war, starvation, the ravishes of addiction, suicide, people who rape children, senseless violence, terrorism. The problem is, hating on the world’s evil left me weak, drained, bitter, and prone to cynicism and melancholy. Hatred creates bitterness and bitterness can lead to despair. Also, a wicked and biting sense of humor but that’s beside the point….
The Lord chose an interesting way to teach me what was all wrong with my understanding. Self defense and exercise classes, very gentle things often with guys teaching us in full padding. There was lots of wrestling around and something I learned, anger and hatred makes you fight dumb. You stop fighting smart, you’re distracted. You’re all brawn and no brains. If your brawn is not impressive and top-notch to begin with, you’re in a whole lot of trouble. You aren’t thinking clearly and you’re likely wasting energy on a powerful and distracting emotion.
The other problem with hatred is that it often masks fear. We hate what we fear. Fear makes your enemy bigger than they are and more powerful. It leads us to put our faith in a bad outcome. That’s what fear is, an awareness of everything that can go wrong. Faith is the opposite of fear. Faith is placing your confidence in the idea that you will win, fear is placing your faith in the idea that you won’t.
Every moment we waste hating on things like cancer, people, culture, crime, politics, our past, whatever, is a moment we could be walking in victory or at least walking in His peace. These things all remain “bad” whether we’re hating on them or not. Objective truth is not dependent on our feelings about it at all. All our hatred really does is serve to make ugly things bigger than they are, to hand power over to them, and to reveal our own fear of them.
A really important passage to me occurs in Jude and tells us, “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
Michael is a powerful warrior, an angel, far bigger and badder than any of us and yet he did not waste one moment investing himself in hatred or railing accusation or rebuke. He simply handed it over to God, The Lord rebuke thee.
“Durst not” means “dare not.” He dared not and since Michael is the epitome of courage and boldness, we know it is not fear that guides him, but rather wisdom and the skills of warfare. He knows the dangers of hatred and how it can empower the enemy.
Thankfully I so rarely have to fight in a physical sense except for fun, but when it comes to spiritual warfare I am a combat veteran, a full-blown ninja. The rules that apply to the physical battle, apply to the spiritual one too. They are entwined.
Hatred is not a Christian value becasue fear is not a Christian value.
Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I am not contradicting anything scripture says, just pointing out some things I’ve learned about the nature of the human heart. God can hate with mercy, with no concern that He is using hatred to mask fear, with no worries that it empowers His enemies. God is Holy and perfect and all-powerful, we people simply are not. We can get hatred all wrong.
All in good humor here, but I have learned in battle that what I need most is grace. That is just as true physically as it is spiritually. The only thing that stands between us and the enemy is not our own hatred of evil, but the grace of Jesus Christ.