A Time to Love and a Time to Hate

I once made a comment on someone else’s social media post pointing out that the very idea of hating someone for any reason, including skin color, was in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches, whether in the Old or New Testament. I wasn’t expecting any response, but I got criticism from an unbeliever who accused Jesus of teaching hate and another response from someone claiming Christianity who said it was perfectly fine to hate people.

The unbeliever pointed to Christ’s words in Luke 14:26–“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” The so-called “Christian” quoted two passages from the Old Testament. One of them was Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8–“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: … A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” He also quoted David from Psalm 31:6–“I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the Lord.” His conclusion was that it’s okay to hate sinners since David and Solomon said it was okay and they were godly men.

Both of them were reading the Bible without godly wisdom or understanding and without the proper context of what they quoted. That’s how deceptive doctrines are conjured up and spread. It’s exactly the type of trick Satan used to deceive in the Garden of Eden and to tempt the Lord Jesus in the wilderness. The desire to ignore wisdom, understanding, and context is one of many reasons why Judah became a corrupt nation, according to Isaiah. They hated the fact that God’s word must be understood in a series of progressive revelations with “precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little,” (Isaiah 28:9-10, 13), comparing scripture with scripture. So they embraced their sin instead and spoke lies misrepresenting God or claiming God said things he didn’t say (Jeremiah 14:14).

The false notions that Christ or David or Solomon taught hatred is easily debunked when we compare scripture with scripture. When we make the comparison, we know that the Bible reveals the following two general ways the word “hate” is used:

(1) Figurative “hate”: This happens when a person uses the word “hate” in a figure of speech to show preference for someone over and above someone else who isn’t preferred. For example, in Deuteronomy 21:15-17, God gives commandments to husbands to respect the rights of the firstborn if a man has “two wives, one beloved, and another hated” so that “he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn.” Another instance is when God stated in Malachi 1:2-3 that he loved Jacob, but hated Esau when it came to his judgment against Esau’s descendants, referring to their wickedness in comparison to his gracious covenant with Jacob despite Jacob not deserving it.

(2) Literal hate where someone has murderous intentions or deadly hopes toward the person they hate.

We know David didn’t teach hatred if we look at Psalm 35. He pointed out how his enemies persecuted him in comparison to how he treated them with love:

12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.

13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.

His words are enough to make you feel righteous indignation or want to shed a tear for the injustices he suffered, especially if you can relate to his experience. As for Solomon, we know hatred was not in his playbook whatsoever. He’s the one who gave us these proverbs:

17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him. Proverbs 24
21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:

22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee. Proverbs 25

Of course, anyone who truly knows anything about Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord, knows he showed the pièce de résistance against hatred by dying for the sins of the whole world who rebelled against him. But before his death, he tore down all kinds of hatred with these words:

21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5

Our Lord Jesus’s anti-hate, pro-love teachings were so powerful and anointed that when his apostles took up the mantle to continue preaching his gospel, they couldn’t help but teach against hate:

3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,

5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3
9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. 1 John 2
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3

It’s obvious that genuine Christians in our devotion to the Lord make no place for hatred against people in our lives. However, we do have a “time to hate” as Ecclesiastes says. But that hate isn’t targeting people. It’s targeting corrupt ideas, corrupt actions, and corrupt consequences, (i.e. sins) which are distinct from the corrupt people themselves. A distinction that the fallen of this world wish to erase, wanting us to believe the false notion that people are equal to their ideas or behaviors, so if we hate their sin, we actually hate them as a person. For instance, if we hate it when a person is promiscuous or abuses drugs, they want to claim this is hating the person themselves. What hogwash!

Jude, Jesus’s younger brother, was one who dispelled that nonsense when he taught us the following:

22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:

23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Notice how the thing associated with people’s sin should be hated, but not the people themselves. From all of these scriptures taken together, we can conclude that people who claim Christians hate people are truly ignorant to claim that. Not only are they ignorant, but they are bearing false witness with a motive that they love their sin and don’t want anyone to try to separate them from their sin.

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