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Reconciling Christian Love and Hatred Toward Enemies of God

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Opinion, Religion, Social-Issues, The Church, Theology

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In an age where progressive thought and postmodernism dominate the cultural and intellectual landscape, Christians often find themselves challenged with the task of navigating their faith amidst conflicting ideologies. One such challenge arises in the form of a perceived paradox between the biblical injunctions to both love and hate the enemies of God.

In Psalm 139:21-22, David, a man after God’s own heart, writes:

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

And then in the New Testament, we see Jesus telling us (Matthew 5:43-48:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…

But was this Jesus introducing the modern progressive notion of love, tolerance, and acceptance? This dilemma is further complicated by the progressive mantra “love trumps hate,” which, while seemingly noble, oversimplifies and misrepresents the biblical understanding of these complex emotions. The issue at hand is not a binary choice between love and hate but a profound theological question that demands a deep exploration of God’s nature as revealed in Scripture.

The Psalms and the Gospels provide us with these contrasting yet complementary perspectives on how to engage with those who oppose God. As stated above, Psalm 139:21-22 expresses David’s intense disdain for the enemies of God, a sentiment that stems from a deep zeal for God’s honor. But this is not a petty or personal animosity but a reflection of a heart that is, while not completely sanctified or yet glorified, aligned with the holiness of God, who is inherently opposed to sin and wickedness.

Conversely, Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:44 to love our enemies marks a significant clarification of this idea. This command does not negate the Old Testament’s stance but rather deepens it, revealing a more profound dimension of God’s character and His redemptive purpose in Christ.

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At the core of this discussion is the nature and character of God Himself. Scripture reveals God as infinitely holy and righteous, rendering any sin against Him not only offensive but infinitely detestable. Throughout the Bible, we encounter passages that articulate God’s judgment and hatred not just toward sin but toward sinners themselves. This reality demonstrates the severity of sin and the absolute necessity of God’s just response: God doesn’t send sin to Hell, he sends sinners to Hell. That might seem harsh to the modern ear but is rooted in the truth of God’s unblemished holiness and the gravity of sin.

Yet, in the midst of this reality, we find the astonishing command to “love our enemies.” This directive does not imply that love nullifies or outweighs hate. Instead, it reflects the complexity of God’s attributes in dealing with humanity. God’s willingness to extend mercy and grace and grant repentance to sinners mirrors the deep unconditional love demonstrated through Christ’s sacrificial death, which was both effectual and transformational, achieving a changed heart among those He called and loved.

Understanding the biblical usage of “hate” and “love” requires a careful examination of the text. While the world often defines “hate” as a personal form of “bigotry” toward other people, the biblical term “hate” often signifies a prioritization of allegiances rather than an emotion of sheer animosity. Similarly, “love” in this context is not a mere sentiment but an active commitment to seek the highest good of others, including their reconciliation with God. This biblical understanding allows Christians to not only hate sin but to hate the sinners themselves and the systemic evil from those who oppose God while, yet, still loving sinners with the hope of their redemption. Love and hate are not mutually exclusive concepts.

The modern and postmodern misinterpretation of Christ’s command to love our enemies often leads to a tolerance of sin under the guise of love. The popular adage “Love the sinner, hate the sin” captures a semblance of truth but fails to fully convey the biblical stance. True Christian love is not passive acceptance but active engagement in seeking the transformation of sinners through the gospel. This stance requires a delicate balance of upholding God’s holiness and justice while embodying His love and mercy.

So, here’s the question: As Christians, can we hate those who are systematically opposed to God’s righteous standards, perpetuating endless evil in the world? Can we hate those who are forcing drag queen story hour on our children in schools? Can we hate those who march in parades holding signs that say “keep your hands off my uterus” while advocating for the unfettered right to mass murder innocent children in the womb?

The answer is yes, we can and should hate them, but armed with the understanding of what biblical hatred is. As previously stated, it’s not personal, it’s a reflection of God’s demeanor toward them lived out in us. We do hate them, but we also love them enough to be honest with them and call them to repentance and faith, as we are not privy to God’s unrevealed will for them.

Christians are then challenged to navigate this complex terrain with wisdom, holding fast to the truth of Scripture while engaging the world with the transformative power of the gospel. In doing so, we bear witness to the depth of God’s character—His just hatred of sin and His redeeming love for sinners.

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