No Hate

March 27th, 2013

“God hates people that are…”

I heard a sentence that began that way on an interview with a protestor outside the Supreme Court yesterday. It is a deeply sad, and deeply wrong, statement.

If someone reads the Bible, and can come up with a word, any word, that completes that sentence, they’re doing it wrong. If someone thinks that there is anyone God hates, then I have this to say: No. Just… no.

I saw an article today, taking pages and pages to assess what the “Christian response to gay marriage” should be. I don’t need pages. It’s very simple. It’s this:

God is the God of love.

That is all. Where people are doing good, there is God. Where people care about each other, there is God. Where there are flowers blooming and trees shading and birds singing, there is God. Where people marvel in the beauty of the landscape or of another person, there is God. And where people love, there is God.

There is too much hate in the world already. Instead of adding more, let’s celebrate compassion, devotion, and peace. People that say that God is the God of hate look at the spring landscape and see only last year’s thistles.

One day soon, I hope to see everyone’s hearts set free. What a day of joy that will be! And I hope, too, that those that hate will find the peace of freed hearts, freed from hate and from fear.

Categories: Politics

Leave a comment

Comments Feed23 Comments

  1. Andreas

    wow, you hit the nail on the head. i am again and again blown away by that awesome love that he radiates and showers and floods us with. and he does not stop there, he proceeds to yearn for sharing his heart with us and giving away himself in so powerful ways. :-)

    Reply

    jgoerzen Reply:

    Well put. Thanks, Andreas. Nice to hear from you!

    Reply

  2. A

    “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” (Gen 6:7)

    Or that place where he slaughters everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah except for one guy who then goes on to father children with his daughters.

    Or where the LORD first hardens the heart of the pharaoh: “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.” (Exodus 10:20) so he could slaughter all firstborns afterwards: “And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.” (Exodus 11:5)

    It’s obvious from this that the Christian god is the nicest guy around who just LOVES everybody so much.

    > One day soon, I hope to see everyone’s hearts set free.
    Maybe after people stop worshipping false gods.

    Reply

    Koen Reply:

    There is a difference between the God of Jesus and the God of OT (which has many different images of God). Jesus calls God Abba (translated daddy). That is very different then God as The Lord (much more distance between humans and God) or king.
    So yes I’m christian, as in follower of Jesus and the image of God as a loving dad means more to me then the old testamentic view.

    Reply

    jgoerzen Reply:

    To A, I would say this –

    This is what I mean when I say we have to be careful about reading things the wrong way. I wrote about this topic 3 years ago, so I’ll direct you to that post, rather than repeat it all here: http://changelog.complete.org/archives/1307-greek-mythology-and-the-old-testament

    I don’t think that the Bible suddenly appeared with a loud POOF and divine ink on indestructable parchment. Its beauty is that it was written by humans, like us. It is the story of their attempt to make sense of their world, of themselves, their circumstances, and their God. Think about what has happened in the last 500 years, and how our understanding of things has improved in that timeframe. I think people could have understood God better over time.

    How about this:

    ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

    from Matthew 5:43-45

    Reply

    Guy Reply:

    John,

    It is true that some people make the mistake of reading scripture as if it had different intentions as it really does; for instance, they might read it as a scientific document and then complain that it is unreliable because it states poetically that the sun moves through the sky rather than stating that the earth spins around the sun and creates the illusion of the sun moving, etc. However I would be extremely careful in making judgements that allow us to discount potentially harsh and difficult-to-resolve meanings that we would otherwise have to wrestle with.

    It is also true that the bible is said to contain “progressive revelation”, e.g. the nature of God and His plans become clearer as the story progresses; indeed, biblical writers understood more and more of God as time progressed. However, I would be very careful to allow the bible’s statements about itself to inform your understanding of it, and to qualify your statements based on that. The bible makes the claim that it is inspired by God, and although that doesn’t mean that appeared out of nowhere — human beings were certainly involved in the process over a long period of time — it does mean that it says exactly what he meant to say. Accepting this means accepting its own claims to truth. In other words, if Jesus says “Suppose some man lived somewhere and did this and that”, it can be thought of as “made up”. But many of the stories of scripture — including those that describe God destroying people and doing other things that are difficult and perhaps in come cases impossible to understand or explain — are plainly written as history. I don’t really mind entertaining the possibility that “day” was not meant to refer to a literal day; but if a book of the bible refers to itself as literal and historical, or if, say, Jesus or one of the apostles upholds the historicity of a book of the Old Testament (which happens frequently), to say that this content is “made up” is really saying that the bible is wrong about itself, and in some cases saying that the more modern, inspired writers of the bible were wrong about the bible as a whole. In many cases it requires claiming that Jesus himself was wrong about the bible — or at least that he was misquoted. J.I. Packer is outspoken on the subject of biblical interpretation and the defense of biblical inerrancy and inspiration. He has some compelling words about it in one of his books on these subjects (from http://www.ccel.us/packer.ch4.html):

    “There is really no disputing that Jesus Christ and his apostles, the founders of Christianity, held and taught that the Jewish Scriptures (our Old Testament) were God’s witness to himself in the form of human witness to him. There is no disputing that Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son, viewed these Scriptures as his Father’s Word (see how he quotes a narrative comment as the Creator’s utterance in Mt 19:5, citing Gen 2:24); or that he quoted Scripture to repel Satan (Mt 4:3-11); or that he claimed to be fulfilling both the law and the prophets (Mt 5:17); or that he ministered as a rabbi, that is, a Bible teacher, explaining the meaning of texts of which the divine truth and authority were not in doubt (Mt 12:1-14; 22:23-40; and so on); or that he finally went to Jerusalem to be killed and, as he believed, to be raised to life again because this was the way Scripture said God’s Messiah must go (Mt 26:24, 52-56; Lk 18:31-33; 22:37; compare 24: 25-27, 44-47). Nor is there really any disputing (despite skeptical poses struck by some scholars) that “God raised him from the dead” (Acts 13:30), thereby vindicating all he had said and done as right — including the way he had understood, taught and obeyed the Scriptures. So, too, it is clear that the apostles, like their Lord, saw the Scriptures as the God-given verbal embodiment of teaching from the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:25; 28:25; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Heb 3:7; 10:15); and that they claimed, not merely that particular predictions were fulfilled in Christ (compare Acts 3:22-24), but that all the Jewish Scriptures were written for Christians (compare Rom 15:4; 16:26; 1 Cor 10:11; 2 Cor 3:6-16; 1 Pet 1:10-12; 2 Pet 3:16); and that they took over the Old Testament (Septuagint version) for liturgical and homiletical use in the churches alongside their own teaching. For it is also clear that the apostles understood inspiration as the relationship whereby God speaks and teaches in and through human instruction that is given, explicitly or implicitly, in his name. They also saw their own teaching and writing as inspired in just the same sense in which the Old Testament was inspired (compare 1 Cor 2:12; 14:37; 1 Jn 4:6; and so on), so that the later conjoining of their official writing with the Old Testament to form the two-part Christian Bible was a natural and necessary step. None of this is open to serious doubt.”

    I don’t think it’s easy to reconcile A means with the loving nature of God, but I don’t think it’s a task that can be avoided. For example, Jesus refers to Sodom and Gomorrah as a real event, and pronounces judgement even harsher than that, in Matthew 10:23-24: And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” Jesus was a good teacher; I don’t believe he would have referred to that event as if it were a myth; and even if, say, he was assuming that everyone knew that it was a myth, what does it say about God’s character that Christ would make a threat like this?

    Paul refers to the hardening of Pharoah, also without any mention of its being a myth, and he also defends the idea that God has license to harden hearts, in romans 9:17-18: “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” He expounds on this with an even more harsh proposal in 9:22-24: “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”

    I think that there are answers to these questions, but I think before even answering them it’s important to establish how you’re going to treat scripture, and I want to advise you to take greater care in how you treat it. I’m not one who would suggest that there is no answer to your burning questions; only that regarding stories as myth (of the untrue variety) is almost never a sufficient answer when you dig deeper.

    Reply

  3. Elvis

    Being an atteist and not intending to change that I just love your openness and belief in your God. Just wanted to get that off my chest.

    Reply

    jgoerzen Reply:

    Thank you. It sounds like you and I have a lot in common.

    Reply

  4. Sveinung

    “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: (…) A false witness that speaketh lies” See Proverbs 6:16-19 for the context. Welcome to club. :)

    Don’t worry about being a member. As you understand more of what you see you will discover beauty in the landscape you never imagined could exist. I suggest you try to find out what terms like “good”, “love” and “compassion” refers to when they are used in the Bible to see more of its beaty.

    Reply

  5. Bernd

    Plot twist: God doesn’t exist.

    Reply

    jgoerzen Reply:

    How much does believing that change the plot?

    Reply

    Anonymous Reply:

    If all believers were as reasonable as you: next to nothing. If only that were the case.

    Reply

  6. Jonathan

    “God hates people that are…” lovers of evil?

    I think a pretty strong Biblical case could be made in support of a statement along these lines.

    But note that “lovers of evil” is not the same as a category popularized by George W. Bush, “evil doers.” We are all doers of evil–even GWB.

    There are certainly examples from scripture where “God hates _____” is stated in no uncertain terms. Most are from the O.T., and a useful conversation can be had about what “hate” may have meant in some or all of those cases. But it certainly shows that someone *could* read the Bible, and come away with a black and white answer to “God hates people that are…” and *not* have necessarily read the Bible “incorrectly.”

    Reply

    Jonathan Reply:

    “God is the God of love. That is all.”

    That cannot be all. Love necesitates hate.

    If you love something, you hate all that opposes it.

    If you love your car, you hate anything that threatens to damage your car.

    If you love your child, you hate anything that threatens the safety of your child.

    If you love good, you hate evil.

    To whatever extent you love something/someone, you will equally hate whatever opposes that thing/person. Love cannot exist without hate in equal measure.

    Reply

    jgoerzen Reply:

    No, there is no need for hate for there to be love. I can feel sad for people that do evil, I can pray for them, I can even be hurt by them, but it is not necessary that I hate them. If you go to http://changelog.complete.org/archives/517-something-i-cant-understand/comment-page-1#comment-1027 and scroll down to my conversation with Frank, you’ll see an example of that.

    Matthew 5 is all I need to know – “Love your enemies and those who persecute you… If you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?”

    (Note: just in case there is any confusion, I do not consider those that want equal marriage to be evil in any way)

    Reply

    Guy Reply:

    I think it’s probably correct, in a strict sense, that there are technically people that God does hate. The first thing that my overly intellectual self thought when you said “God hates people who are ______”, was “God hates people who are in Hell”. That might be harsh, and it’s debatable, but I lean toward believing that Scripture supports at least this statement. Incidentally, it follows that if God hates people as He’s pouring out the wrath and judgement of Hell on them, then He must have hated his own Son at the time that Jesus cried “Abba, Father, why have you forsaken me?” as we remember today on Good Friday. A case might even be made that God does hate or has hated some living people. However, I don’t think it’s my job, or the job of any believer, to try to decide which people in particular God hates, or decide (at least with absolute certainty) whether some dead people are in hell or not. It might be appropriate in a private conversation or a theology class, to theorize on what categories of people God hates. But even if I were certain about this, I can’t imagine any situation where I would be called, for instance, to name a person and say “God hates that guy”.

    Once in ministry, I felt led to tell someone I knew very well, in love, “You are in serious and blatant sin; I fear for your life and even though you have said you believe you’ll go to heaven when you die, I am personally convinced that if you died today you would find yourself in Hell. You need to repent.” Those are words that I wouldn’t bandy around even with many people even if I was sure they applied to them, because they would typically only drive someone away from the restoration they need. And even with this person in his sorry state, it would have served no purpose for me to tell him “God hates you.” Or to tell a news organization “God hates that man”, or “God hates people like that”. To them, it reads just like me saying “I hate you.” And if I’ve told them that God hates them, I probably really do hate them, either because that statement came from a misguided and hateful heart, or because I’m a good Christian and desire to hate the same things that God hates. It would not really serve any purpose even for me to resolve in my own mind that God hated him, even if I told no one.

    Scripture is clear that God hates some things, and there are times when loving someone and upholding the truth means gently sharing with people that He hates the very thing that they are doing. But in my opinion the question of whether God hates any particular people, and if so which people, is really kind of useless, at least as an end to itself. Romans 12:19 says “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ In some contexts it might be OK to ask an academic question about what sort of vengeance and wrath God might exercise in general, but scripture says that it’s his wrath and his vengeance to deal out, or to withhold in favor of mercy. Exodus 33:19 (in the Old Testament everybody says demonstrates how hateful and mean God is) says “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy”. It might be my business to warn certain people of the possibility that they could receive judgement; and it’s my business to know and to explain the path to mercy (the gospel); but it’s not my business to choose or to know who will take that path and receive mercy and who will receive judgement. What do we know about it? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

    Incidentally, I went looking for the expression “Think God’s thoughts after him”, foolishly assuming it was a biblical quotation that might be thought to support the idea that someone should find out what God hates and hate those things things or people. It turns out that it is rather a quote from a famous Lutheran astronomer who strived to discover some of God’s intended design for creation through science. That’s a respectable thing to strive for, but if you take it too far it begins to look a bit presumptuous and foolish to ever claim to have substantially succeeded in thinking God’s thought after him, in light of Isaiah 55 above. Philippians 2:5 says “Have this mind among yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus”… but it goes on to specifically refer to his humility in subjecting himself to the cross, which hardly gives permission to suppose that we have access to any old thought that goes on in Christ’s head that we might be curious about. Psalm 19:14 says “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.” This seems like an even better thing to strive for, and says nothing of figuring out what God thinks of others, but rather what God thinks of our own words and actions. That rings very nicely with Matthew 7:5: ” You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

    It might be good when responding to sin privately to try to follow the outline of how Paul warned people (and arguably encouraged them to warn others) in Galatians 5:19-24 that those who truly belong to Christ live reflect this with their lifestyle, and that those who don’t belong to Him will not receive the kingdom: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” This is a hard enough thing to convey to people lovingly without bringing in how we suppose God regards them or how He regards the category we suppose He has placed them in within His unfathomable mind :)

    jgoerzen Reply:

    The story of Jesus is that of love for the outcasts, the worst sinners, the lost, the forsaken. Even if, for the sake of this discussion, we say that a classical hell is a real thing, I simply can’t reconcile God’s hatred of people in hell with the loving Jesus in the Bible. I would say it would be far more likely, given that notion of hell, that God would be weeping for the lost and still trying to find a way to pull them back.

    Guy Reply:

    I wish I could seriously believe it didn’t exist, but I do believe that hell exists in the conventional sense, that is, an inescapable place of eternal suffering for those who have rejected Christ. But that’s a whole other ball of wax. I do find it easy to believe that God could be weeping over those who are in hell; Jesus did weep over people’s unbelief in this life. Either way, certainly no human being has the right to respond with hatred toward someone they believe to be in hell, or on their way there, no matter what sort of place it is.

  7. Andy Cater

    Behold: I give you a new commandment That you love one another even as I have loved you

    Thomas Tallis – A New Commandment – is a great musical setting from 450 years ago or so. It’s not easy, it’s not straightforward, nobody says that you keep it up forever – but it’s an injunction to behave better, not because it makes you lead a better life than those around you, but it does mean that you make others lives better by your actions.

    See also Golden Rule, many of the teachings of the Buddha, much of the Koran … it’s just tough that nobody listens very often.

    Reply

  8. Robert Pogson

    What God? The one that said this:
    “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

    Or this:
    “And the LORD said unto me, Fear him not: for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.
    So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining.
    And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan.
    All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many.
    And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.”

    Seems God can hate too.

    Reply

    jgoerzen Reply:

    @Robert Pogson How sure are you that God’s hatred is coming through in those words, or the perceptions of the people that wrote it?

    Reply

  9. Lisandro Damián Nicanor Pérez Meyer

    \o/

    Reply

  10. Jim

    :) Hang in there John, you are doing good.

    I do believe that God so loves the world that he could shed a tear for every person who ends up in Hell because of his or her unbelief that His, God’s, method of salvation was for them to believe and trust Jesus Christ to save them from sin and then be able to enter Heaven.
    ..

    Reply

Leave a comment

 

Feed

http://changelog.complete.org / No Hate