Does the Christian have the right to hate? Is it ever righteous to hate? To go one step further: is it sinful to love what God hates?
This article will show that not only is it right to hate what God hates, but that it is wrong to love what God hates. If we say that we must love what God hates then we are trying to be holier than God. If we try to be holier than God then we are, in a way, making ourselves our own god. For God says: "Be holy as I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:16; Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7); and since he defines holiness, any other definition is unholy.
God Hates Certain People and Things
First, the question of what hate is and what God hates needs to be discussed. Many Scripture references state clearly that God, indeed, hates certain things and certain people. I first reference Proverbs 6:16-19: "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
This Scripture obviously shows that God indeed hates the sin AND the sinner who commits that sin. "A false witness that speaketh lies" is clearly a person whom God hates and is an abomination to him. He that sows discord among brethren, is, again, a person. These are people whom God hates, not just their sin. This is important because if God hated only the act and not the person who commits the act, then we would have no right to hate the person either. However, some might argue that God can do things that man can't do: "God can hate but hasn't told us we should hate." Again, the Scripture addresses this very situation.
The 18th chapter of 2 Chronicles gives the account of King Jehoshaphat's assisting King Ahab, a true enemy of God. Afterward, he is reproved; "And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord" (2 Chr. 19:2).
This is what the Bible, the word of God, states. Are we holier than the Bible? Are we raised to a standard higher than that of the Bible and of God? What is higher in authority than God's word and God himself? The obvious answer is that nothing is higher in authority than God. Since God is the definition of holiness, it is impossible to be holier than God. When we say we must not hate what God hates, we are deciding for ourselves what to hate and what is right and wrong. This is the sin of Adam and Eve as recounted in Genesis 3:5.
Let's examine a logical implication of the premise that man is not free to hate anyone. Are we to love Satan and the demons? After all, why would they be excluded? Most Christians would find such a proposition abominable.
God does hate the sin and the sinner. The Psalms repeatedly demonstrate this position: "The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul HATETH" (Ps. 11:5).
"Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart, For thy loving kindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have HATED the congregation of evildoers; and will not sit with the wicked" (Ps. 26:2-5).
"Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. I have HATED them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the Lord" (Ps. 31:5-6).
"Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I HATE them, O Lord, that hate thee? I HATE them with a perfect HATRED: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139: 21-24).
The last three verses are David's asking the Lord if he has been faithful to him. David reminds the Lord that he has hated those who are the Lord's enemies. David knows that this is not unrighteous.
New Testament Revisions?
Some assert that the New Testament must restate what the Old Testament states for the Old Testament to be valid. This is not true, because Christ said that not one jot or tittle of his law shall pass away (Mt. 5:18). Since at that point the New Testament had not been written, he was talking about the portion of Scriptures that we refer to as the Old Testament. The only Scripture around when the Apostle Paul was writing his letters was the Old Testament. Paul never said (and for that matter no New Testament writer did) that we do not have to listen to what the Old Testament says. (In fact, the division of Old Testament and New Testament was not even a reality at that point.) However, on the subject of "hate" there is a place where the New Testament not only refers back to, but also affirms, what the Old Testament said. I refer to Malachi 1:1-3: "The burden of the Word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob. And I HATED Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage to waste for the dragons of the wilderness."
In Romans 9:10-14 Paul states: "And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac: (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth:) It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved but Esau have I HATED. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid."
Definition of Love and Hate
Numerous examples have been given to demonstrate the reality that God does, indeed, hate and that there is such a thing as righteous hatred on the part of the Christian. However, it is necessary to define the words "love" and "hate" in order for this discussion to have practical application.
The Bible tells us that "God is love" (1 Jn. 4:8). Many, however, interpret that verse to mean that "Love is God" by defining God in terms of love rather than the other way around. God is the definer of all things. So, we must look to the Scriptures to see what God says love is and what he cites as examples of love. He says, "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10); "If you love me, keep my commandments" (Jn. 14:15); and through the Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what love is.
The concept that "Love is God" ties in with the evolutionary view that God differs in the Old and New Testaments. If God was a God of "Wrath" in the Old Testament and now is a God of "Love," then he evolved into that different attitude. But God said that he never changes. Because people think that God has evolved, they treat his standards and his law as evolving. But you see, God says he does not change, and he would know!
So, how do we as Christians apply godly hatred to an enemy of God? Does it mean that we are free to violate God's law in dealing with those we should hate? No, because the Bible tells us to "Do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of household of the faith" (Gal. 6:10). Since we have been told that "love is the fulfilling of the law," we are not free to steal from our fellow human, murder him, covet what he has, bear false witness against him, etc. And this does not mean that we do not have to witness to him. In fact, that would be contrary to the Great Commission, which is our primary duty.
What it does mean is that we are not to aid and abet the enemy (any enemy of God should be ours as well). This is why Jehoshaphat was reprimanded: he aided and abetted the enemy of God (Ahab). Some examples: (1) we are not to help the enemies of God communicate more effectively; (2) we are not to help a candidate running for a political office get elected if he is one of God's enemies; (3) we must not give our resources to assist the ungodly.
In order to be faithful to our Lord and Savior we must love what he loves and hate what he hates. To do anything else is to attempt to be holier than God, which is sinful in concept and impossible in reality.