Defining Hate

Defining Hate

Words like “hate” and “Nazi” are getting thrown around a lot.

Many news outlets have been reporting on the “Hate Map” published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. As of September 2017, there are 917 “hate groups” in the US. This includes groups like the KKK. But this also includes anti-abortion, pro-family, conservative groups, such as Liberty Counsel in Orlando, groups who would vehemently deny being hateful or violent.

Media outlets and internet giants tend to support the SPLC and its labels. As a result, SPLC has gained tremendous political and financial power. For example, Apple added a button to iTunes allowing users to instantly donate to SPLC, “to stand up to those who hate.”

And really, who wouldn’t want to send a little dough to fight misogyny, in between 99-cent downloads of the latest Eminem and Jay-Z hits?

But I think what is really going on here, is SPLC slapping a “hate” label on any group with which it disagrees politically. Lumping in the Family Research Council with the KKK is an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of traditional views without actually debating them.

Make no mistake, most Christian churches across the religious spectrum would be labeled a “hate group” under the SPLC definition. Indeed, Peter (anti-woman, 1 Peter 3:5) and Paul (anti-gay, 1 Cor. 6:9-11) would likely be called purveyors of hate. Jesus (anti-Muslim, John 8:24) might find His Twitter account suspended.

Just as 1st-century Roman Christians ironically were persecuted as “atheists,” 21st-century American Christians will be persecuted as “haters.” Lest one think that all progressives are peaceful as doves, at least one recent would-be mass-shooter confessed to using the “hate map” to select targets (Floyd Corkins in 2012).

Because someone stands for Biblical values does not mean he is a hater. Indeed, when most Christians speak out against sin, they are motivated not by hate, but rather by love.

God is not one-dimensional. He is capable of anger toward sin (Prov. 6:16, Rev. 2:6). He judges those who descend into immorality (Gen. 15:16, 18:20, 2 Thess. 1:8, 2 Pet. 3:7). But, start to finish, through and through, the Bible is a story of God’s love. God is defined as love (1 John 4:8). “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus told His followers, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44-45). God created mankind, but sin ruins God’s relationship with man (Rom. 6:23). God took it upon Himself, at the cost of a great sacrifice, to answer the problem of sin and provide the path of salvation, so that mankind may live eternally with Him.

God says, “You who love the Lord, hate evil” (Psalm 97:10). Christians speak out against sin is because it destroys the soul, and prevents a person from dwelling with God. We beg on behalf of Christ, “be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

Now, Christians’ worldview could be wrong. Any person may disagree with Christians that God exists, that the Bible is God’s word, that the prohibitions of the Bible should be respected. Any person may disagree with Christians that there is a Hell, or a Heaven. Any person may disagree with Christians that there is a set of behaviors called “sin.” That’s fine. Christians would not try to force people to agree, even if they were in a position to do so. In America, the Bill of Rights should be sufficient to guard both Christians’ and non-Christians’ ability to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, while they continue to debate whether the best standard for living is humanism or revelation.

Labeling pro-family, pro-Christian groups “haters” is unhelpful. Indiscriminately throwing around labels of “hate” and “Nazi” separates words from their definitions and leaves society unable to identify real hate. When we call a woman a Nazi because she doesn’t want to share a bathroom with a man, what is left to call a person who engages in genocide?

But more importantly, it is inaccurate. Because I love you, I say that you should not move in with your girlfriend. Because I love you, I insist that marriage is defined as one man, one woman, for life. Because I love you, I discourage you from following the ethics of the Koran.                                    —John Guzzetta