A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. ~Ecclesiastes 3:8
Is there really a time to hate? Since joining twitter as @CalvinistHulk I have had a couple of epic battles over the issue of “Christian hate.” Obviously, as the “Hulk,” I feel a sense of obligation to defend the idea of Christian hate. For some, that phrase won’t even compute. They’ve been taught that God is love and, in my experience, nothing is going to mess with their fairy tale view of who God is, and how Christians should act.
Before I delve into some of the biblical support for the idea of Christian hate, I want to point out that some make a distinction between hating sinfulness, or sinful behavior, over against hating sinners, or those who practice sin. At the outset, I just want to point out that I don’t find that distinction either logically, or biblically, possible. As David Miller, founder of Line Upon Line ministries, once astutely explained in a True Church Conference, “I wish my momma had known how to [love the sinner and hate the sin.] It seems every time I disobeyed she took it out on me.”
Miller’s point is that you can’t separate the sin from the sinner. Without an active moral agent, sin wouldn’t exist. Sin is the active defiance of an unholy moral agent against a holy God. If there was no agent taking part in unholy activity, there wouldn’t be anything to judge as unholy. To say it another way, sin never does anything wrong. God can’t punish sin. He punishes sinners. While you may disagree with my assessment of that dichotomy, I think I can still show that there is a Biblical precedent for hating people who sin grievously.
Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Psalm 139:21–22
Here, David is acknowledging that he hates those who hate the Lord, and he calls this hatred a “perfect hatred.” Before we move too quickly, note that David is not describing a hatred merely of the sin, but he specifically addresses the people themselves. Further, he sets this forth not as a bad thing, but rather as a holy activity. Note Charles Spurgeon’s comments on this verse from his Treasury of David:
He was a good hater, for he hated only those who hated good. Of this hatred he is not ashamed, but he sets it forth as a virtue to which he would have the Lord bear testimony. To love all men with benevolence is our duty; but to love any wicked man with complacency would be a crime.
This quote from Spurgeon is so critical. He notes that David is not ashamed of his hatred, but rather looks at it as “a virtue.” If Spurgeon is right in his assessment, that David saw his hatred of God’s enemies as a virtue, then we must acknowledge that hatred of certain people is not sinful, but rather a righteous emotion.
Before I move on, I want to highlight Spurgeon’s second sentence in the quote above. Doesn’t that perfectly describe the state of the church and the world today? Have we not begun to love the wicked man by becoming complacent (or shall we say tolerant) of their sin? I see this everywhere in the local church. Whenever someone has a genuine concern about the sinfulness of a brother, or an unbeliever, they are immediately told “not to judge” and commanded to “love.” But wait, isn’t that a judgment on the one judging? Is that approach really loving toward the person who has a genuine concern about another person’s sinful behavior?
One of the challenges with this subject matter is that it always reveals what a person hates, who says they don’t hate. For example, I’ll have 100 tweet battles full of barbs and jabs that ultimately come to a place where the person professing to never “hate anybody” realizes that they kinda hate me for being a proponent of hate. Grrrr. Logic is always frustrating that way. Inevitably, they begin to skirt the issue, redefine hate, or come up with some other word to describe how they feel about this hate supporting hater.
Spurgeon has another quote in reference to this passage that I think is important:
To hate a man for his own sake, or for any evil done to us, would be wrong; but to hate a man because he is the foe of all goodness and the enemy of all righteousness, is nothing more nor less than an obligation.
I love this quote from Spurgeon. First, he points out that our hatred must not be for any selfish reason. I think 90% of hatred in the Christian community is a result of a personal grievance. That’s not right, and I’m not advocating that at all (even though half the people who read this will say that I am). Rather, I am advocating a hatred of what God hates. I am calling on believers to be like their God; to follow their Creator, and to emulate their Savior. I’m calling on them to love what God loves, and yes, hate what God hates. I’m calling on them to do exactly what the Bible says:
Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live… ~Amos 4:14
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth, do I hate. ~Proverbs 8:13
…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy. ~1 Peter 1:15, 16
Let me close by saying that my objective with this post is not to make mean Christians. We have enough “Westboro Baptist” types already in this world. My objective with this post is to drive people to know their God, and his Word, better. The truth is that our God hates. We have an obligation, as believers, to know and understand what he hates (and whom) and how that hatred connects to his divine love; and even compliments it! You may disagree with my position, but we all have an obligation to make sense of the God we serve as he is described in his Word. We have to examine these passages, as well as many others, and come to conclusions that take them all into consideration. If David can say with confidence that he hated with a perfect hatred, there should be some sense in which we can say that today. To put in the words of King Solomon:
[There is] A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. ~Ecclesiastes 3:8