Hate speech has become the political catchword for language that is offensive or aggressive to a certain group of people (especially those who are viewed in the minority). This terminology is often abused and is sometimes used to condemn Christians who speak out against sin. For example, proponents of the homosexual agenda will often shut down any view which condemns their lifestyle by defining disagreement as hate. This accusation is often frustrating for disciples. As Christians, we teach and believe that God is the embodiment of eternal, self-existing, transcendent love (1 John 4:8). We believe that our God acted in absolute self-giving love when he gave his Son for our salvation (John 3:16). We also believe that, as saved sinners, we are to reach out to others in love and extend to them the saving message of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:15). Just as a parent realizes that loving a child doesn’t exclude discipline, so Christians realize that our love for the lost doesn’t exclude condemnation of sin (in fact, it demands it). We are called to reflect the same sanctifying, redemptive love that our God extended to us, as well as be loving and kind in all that we do.
That being said, there are certain things which a loving Christian must hate. In fact, we could use a little bit more hate in our churches. This may be startling for some to read but I am convinced, and pray, that the Lord will stir within our hearts a holy hatred for the three things I am about to mention. I would be so bold as to make the following statement: you cannot be a NewTestament Christian without hating these three things.
Here then are three things a loving Christian must hate:
Sin. The Hebrews writer proclaimed that Jesus was worthy of the kingdom because He “loved righteousness and hated iniquity” (Heb. 1:9). As God’s people, if we hope to be “worthy” of the Kingdom of God then there must be a deep hatred for sin and iniquity. This hatred is due to our equally deep love for righteousness. Jude writes that we must “hate even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 23). Hatred for iniquity must first begin with our personal sin, and then extend to hatred for the sin of others. David cried out for a clean heart and a renewed spirit (Psalm 51:7-9) before claiming that he would teach sinners (v. 13). External condemnation without inward inspection is the recipe for self-righteousness. When we recognize the weight of our sin, responding to the gospel and living a holy life, we humbly come to others in love, showing them the wickedness of their life and the God who wishes to save them from His wrath.
Error. The Psalmist wrote “Through your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104). A love for the truth of God’s word demands a hatred for false teaching. When rebuking the church at Thyatira, our Lord responded to a false teaching known as the “Doctrine of the Nicolaitans” with hatred (Rev. 2:15). Paul went so far as to pronounce a curse upon anyone who would pervert or change the gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). While love, gentleness, and humility are absolute necessities when discussing doctrinal matters, this does not negate the fact that Christians must have a holy hatred for error.
Disunity. In listing sins which the Lord hates, the Proverbs writer ended with “And one who sows discord among brethren” (Prob. 6:19). God hates division; his strong condemnation of divorce highlights this (Mal. 2:16). The Lord hates division in the home, the church, and throughout the world. The cross is meant to be the means of unity and reconciliation for all of creation; to take all the broken pieces of humanity and unite them as a single whole within the kingdom of Jesus (Eph. 2:14-16). Within the church particularly, there is no room for divisions made among racial or ethnic lines; all are one in the Lord. Christians should have a deep and abiding love for unity, constantly pursuing peace as we eagerly maintain the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3; Heb. 12:14). No doubt, there are times when, due to persistent sin, a brother/sister must be dis-fellowshipped (1 Cor. 5), but that is never the ideal. Anyone who has endured the heartache of division, tension, and broken relationships will often have a deep hatred for disunity. Children of divorced homes will sometimes have a greater determination to keep their future family together because they know the pain that a broken home brings. God’s children must also have a determined hatred against disunity.
You may have noticed that a hatred for all of these elements (sin, error, and disunity) first requires a deep love for others (righteousness, truth, and unity). When Christians are truly convicted about the way of Jesus, discovering the abundant life and hope that is there, anything that would infringe or disturb that deep peace is shunned with passion. Please don’t misunderstand me: I am not saying we should hate the people who are in sin, teaching falsely, or causing division. We should pray and love these people. I reject the false contention that if we disagree with someone and their lifestyle that we hate them. It just isn’t true.
There may be other things we could add to this list; issues and sins which are so against Christian thought and practice that no word, other than hatred, is appropriate in describing the Christian’s attitude toward it. But, make no mistake: if you want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ then you must hate sin, error, and disunity.