Article of the Month

April 2010

HATE versus DISAGREEMENT

It has been noticed by many of us that a spirit of incivility is increasing. We often speak of extremists elsewhere in the world, only to come to the realization that we, too, are manifesting a rising tide of extremism in social issues, in politics, and in religion. Some have even carried it to the point of overt hatred—wishing failure or hurt upon those with whom they disagree.

 

— TWO EXTREMES —

In our day two extremes have been promoted.  One is the attitude exemplified by JIHADS or FATWAHS pronounced by unfortunately misled Islamists. Those holding these extremes preach that the simple solution to dealing with those whose views are unpleasant is to slay them. (The world is clearly not so civilized as some might want us to believe!)

The other extreme is exemplified by what is termed POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.  While this movement is not openly destructive, it IS destructive to the concept that TRUTH is worth preserving. Political-correctness advocates generally hold that it is best not to criticize so that the feelings of others be not offended. It expands to the point where people hate people because they speak their minds!

In the case of both extremes, advocates seem to want to place those in power who will ENFORCE their positions. It seems that mankind yet believes that might makes right.  God is challenging that position. His viewpoint is that right makes might. That will be the standard of His in-coming Kingdom.

The summary of the proper attitude for Christians is this: Disagreement now is natural and appropriate. It should be dealt with without disagreeableness and with balanced and honest discussion. We may need to hate an idea, but we need not hate its advocates.

 

RELIGIOUS ERRORS
HAVE PROMOTED HATRED —

While some hatreds have been caused by political differences and some have been due to conflicting social norms, most severely destructive events in history have been due to religious differences and their resulting misguided zeal.

(1)  “Christians” mounted the Crusades in order to free Jerusalem from the unbelieving Muslim hordes.

(2) The Roman Church instituted the torturous Inquisition against any who questioned its absolute authority. As insanely horrible as this period of history was, we must remember that the perpetrators felt fully justified in their actions. It was their position that they were saving souls from an eternity of torture in “hell-fire.” Was it not reasonable, then, to bring them to repentance by torture for a short time in this lifetime in order to spare them from an eternity of agony? The Romanists thought so! But this is the point: ERROR IN DOCTRINE CREATES ERROR IN BEHAVIOR. Because of doctrinal error, the Christian religion has been historically one of the most destructive of forces!  It has frequently fostered hatred.

(3) The Ku Klux Klan devoted itself to terrorizing and murdering others because of an ignorant fear that the white race was dangerously threatened by those of races and religions not “approved” by Klan adherents.

(4) The age-old conflict of Arabs versus Jews continues to plague the Middle East (and with it, the world). Psalm 83 prophesies the hatred which continues to be manifested: “They have said, ‘Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation that the name of Israel be remembered no more.’” (verse 4) The rest of the Psalm shows that God, Himself, will deal with the problem.

(5) Hitler, too, aimed his toxic vitriol against the Jews, and nearly exterminated them. Part of the reason was Hitler’s honest belief that the Germanic peoples were a super race. Deep behind it was the Christian vindictive prejudice that Jews were “Christ killers.”

(6) Today we have a similar attitude amongst Islamic radicals.  They firmly believe that their religion is not only superior, but that it is Islam’s destiny to rule the world—mostly by exterminating all who do not bow to Allah.

We do all a disservice when we think we live in an age of enlightenment. Most of the world’s population is immersed in gross darkness; the rest of the world (though it would deny it) has not seen much light! So many seem to be trying to “save the world” by forcing it into a common belief. WE CAN’T DO IT! God can.

(7) Another attempted genocide of recent times took place in Africa where Hutus were convinced the world would be a better place if they would exterminate the Tutsi tribe. Blood flowed freely. Hatred still contaminates.

(8) Various religionists are bent on converting the world to their point of view. Some fundamentalist movements are working to infiltrate the U.S. Government with their adherents so that they can pass and enforce laws in harmony with their religious precepts. “Jehovah’s Witnesses” continue to knock on doors while they hold the unfortunate conviction that those not thus converted will be doomed to “second death.” Oh, when will we ever learn?

All of these historic tragedies and some yet to come are because of the hatred of individuals instead of the disagreement of ideas with a tolerant attitude—waiting for God to handle things.

 

— OLD TESTAMENT SLAUGHTERS AS TYPES —

Frequently those who speak against the Bible cite the numerous examples in the Old Testament where God directs the slaughter of Israel’s enemies.

I Samuel 15 is one example. The horrid words tend to disgust the reader:

“Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now, go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” That seems to qualify as genocide.

Sometimes God, Himself, does the destruction, as He did with both Sodom and Gomorrah. That, too, seems like genocide.

How can we harmonize these events with what we know God to be? How can we say that these events differ from current Islamic terrorism or African genocides. 

In the first place, God does not now speak audibly to anyone as He did in Old Testament times. Thus, in the Old Testament, the atrocities were directed BY GOD, not be people who thought they knew God. So, modern genocides and terrorisms are man-directed, not God-directed.

Secondly, while we may shudder at what we read, Jesus makes it clear that God, when He killed, had in mind the resurrection of all who were being killed. In Matthew 10:15 Jesus said, for instance, that Sodom and Gomorrah would find it easier in the day of judgment than some of the towns in Israel!  In the case of those two corrupt cities, God saw character degradation so deep that had He allowed their continuance, the inhabitants would have so seared their consciences that reform in the resurrection, during the Day of Judgment, would have been significantly difficult. In other words, God spared Sodom and Gomorrah in the long run by cutting their lives short. They would have died eventually anyway; but a shorter life produced a better eternal outcome.  Young people die in large numbers every day. It is part of the death sentence on our race. If God chose to have some die young for their benefit, how is it worse than if they had died in an earthquake or some other disaster? (No! That is not the same rationale as the Inquisition!)

Thirdly, God used the nation of Israel as a TYPICAL people.  This means that events in their history were designed, permitted, and overruled in order to be illustrations of things which God would accomplish at a later time. For example, the slaying of the Passover Lamb was a type or picture of the sacrifice of Jesus for the ultimate deliverance of the whole world (John 1:29; I Corinthians 5:7). Paul clearly states that the entire Jewish Law arrangement was intended to be a type, shadow, or picture of better things to come. (Hebrews 10:1)

Seeing this “typical” nature of the Old Testament, we can more easily explain and accept the slaughter in I Samuel 15.  Since Israel was in many instances pictorial of Christians’ fighting a warfare within themselves, and that NO DEVIATION should be made, no mercies shown, in destroying whatever sin we find within ourselves. Thus, when in I Samuel 15, King Saul did not slay some of the choice animals of the Amalekites, it was a picture of how a Christian can cost himself success in God’s service by compromises with “little sins”—exceptions to God’s commands. Again, the Amalekites were a treacherous people.  God prevented their further deterioration and has provided thus for their easier rejuvenation in the “day of judgment”—the Kingdom.

The fact is that “God is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe.” (I Timothy 4:10) He is going to save UNBELIEVERS—infidels! He seeming atrocities of the Old Testament never violate the eternal welfare of anyone. In fact, they actually work toward the good of all. They are not based on hate; they are based on love. But ONLY GOD could calculate such things accurately. Men cannot.

 

— SOME PERTINENT SCRIPTURES —

Here are a few texts which expand our perspective on hatred and its proper and improper applications:

HEBREWS 1:9 shows that Jesus’ success was based on two things: he loved what was RIGHT, and he hated what was wrong.  Thus we, too, must have this proper hatred.

LEVITICUS 19:17 is a part of the Jewish Law. It demonstrates that hatred must not be for the person, but for the mistake. If further shows that hatred for the person is a sin.

AMOS 5:15 is so beautifully simple: “Hate evil, love good.”

MATTHEW 5:43-48 is a part of Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount.” Its injunction is to “love your enemies.” Clearly, they are your enemies because they see things differently! This shows that DISAGREEMENT can contain LOVE. There is no cause to hate the individual—particularly when we have the knowledge that he, too, will soon be blessed by God.

EPHESIANS 4:26 reads “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Paul is giving us several cautions. He shows that righteous anger (a hatred of evil) is appropriate if it does not turn to hatred of the perpetrator. Then it becomes sin. He wants us (before the day closes) to be certain that our perspective on righteous hatred does not turn into a trap.

MATTHEW 22:39 has Jesus pointing out that subservient only to loving God supremely is the commandment to love neighbor as self. The more we mediate on this, the more we will realize that hatred toward an individual is about as far from the Divine standard as it is possible to get. (This commandment is expanded upon in Romans 13:9, 10; Galatians 5:13-15, and the context of James 2:8.)

PROVERBS 6:16-19 lists seven things which God hates. It is a good list for us to emulate. It is GOOD to hate these things, but NOT to hate the people who practice them! If the individual cannot ultimately be separated from the wrong, God will deal with the problem. We do not need to. 

JOHN 3:19-21. These verses show us why a person tends to hate another person. In short, we hate light (truth, goodness, etc.) because it exposes what is wrong in us! How tragic! When we face light, we should want to correct our own deficiencies. But your human tendencies are the opposite. We lash out towards and hate the person whose truths expose the weaknesses of our own errors. We cannot hate what he says (because it is true), so we hate him. What poor fallen creatures we are!

LUKE 9:54. This verse reflects the John text just above. The disciples were rejected by a village. They knew they were speaking truth! So, with human weakness, they asked Jesus if they should command fire to come down from heaven to consume the town.  Jesus naturally rebuked their wrong spirit. Is this not what we see all over the world? If they reject us, kill them! How horrible! Yet these were disciples of Jesus! (Of course, it was before they were begotten of the spirit at Pentecost.)

TITUS 3:1-3 is a passage written to counteract the spirit we just saw in Luke 9. Read it carefully to see how the spirit of hate must leave us.

MATTHEW 26:52 is a famous text: “…all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” This text is clearly not a literal threat; it is an admonition against hatred of the individual. Paul’s words in II Corinthians 10:3-4 are similar in intent: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

Both Jesus and Paul are showing that constructive IDEAS are the means for the triumph of good. Destruction and hatred of the individual merely perpetuates the madness. God’s Kingdom on earth will provide the fertile soil for the growth of truth and character. As one great French writer expressed it, “Greater than the trend of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.”

 

THE BALANCE: 
— HATING THE RIGHT THING —

Hatred of individuals has no place in a Christian. Even the great archangel, Michael, refused to condemn the devil, leaving that kind of judgment to God. (Jude 9) Nevertheless, a Christian has a duty to hate evil—its words, deeds, and various manifestations. A Christian wants to emulate God, and God hates everything that is ultimately harmful, deceptive, and wrong.

God does not hesitate to use words powerfully. When He criticizes the apostate Roman church, He calls it “the Mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” (Revelation 17:5) He calls it “a dwelling place of every unclean spirit and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Revelation 18:2, 3) Can’t we see political-correctness adherents cringing?

Criticism of wrong is appropriate. It always should be done in the right spirit—to be as beneficial as possible. But hatred of the individual who believes the error is not tolerable. The Lord will bring the balance once the peace-on-earth Kingdom begins. Meanwhile, it is up to Christians to obtain and practice this balance—even to their own detriment!

Christians will be misunderstood in their efforts. Mob psychology is not interested in subtleties! If the world hears us criticize Catholic Church doctrine, it will assume we are criticizing Catholic people. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our Lord died for Catholics and Mormons and Jews and Muslims and atheists. He just doesn’t agree with them!  But He will bless them all. “Thy Kingdom Come.”

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