A couple weeks ago, a Gary Oldman (actor) meme hit reddit.
What was interesting was how quickly it moved up reddit, and how many people felt the need to make exceptions for their right to hate certain types of people.
Below are three of the common reasons people gave as justification to hate others and a few “Jesusy” things to consider.
1) I can hate you because you harm others
I hate murders. I hate child molestors. I hate biggots. I hate racists. I hate Nazis. These were common sentiments across the thousands of reddit comments.
Does God hate morally evil people? Take a look at Proverbs 6:16-19.
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers
Notice in this proverb that there are seven things that the Lord hates. Pride, lying, innocent bloodshed, wicked hearts, pursing evil, false witness, sowing discord among brothers.
When people express their right to hate, usually they are pointing to things on this list, or a list that is rooted in similar ideas. I hate murderers (innocent bloodshed). I hate sexual abuse (wicked heart and plans). I hate racists (discord among brothers). The interesting thing is that God HATES these THINGS too!
So we might do well to have a little more hatred of these THINGS in our lives. But notice the emphasis. God hates these THINGS! Hating these THINGS is radically different than despising the humans that do them. In our culture, we are horrible at separating the person from their actions, except of course, when we are looking at our own failures.
Sure, let’s hate the hate. Hate the murder. Hate the sexual abuse. Hate the misogyny. You need not be mild mannered about these despicable acts. Jesus was righteously indignant a few times. Flipping over temple tables comes to mind.
But I’m not sure that hating HUMAN BEINGS for any reason is profitable, healthy, or necessary. Especially not if you have a sober view or yourself and a God-sized view of love.
2) I hate you because you hated me first
One “closeted gay man” wrote:
“I can’t peacefully coexist with people that don’t agree with my existence. I am a closeted gay person. People have made homophobic jokes, complained about the gay agenda, to my face. People have advocated for eugenics to me.”
Another man wrote, “I hate racists, when they target my family and say that my children should die in a gas chamber.”
These are painful to read. Never would I ever want anyone to be the recipients of such hate. I empathize. People are awful, and when their words cut to the core of a person’s value and identity it feels like the only appropriate response is to hate those who have hated you.
Yet, The “I hate you because you hated me first” argument isn’t going to bring change. It will never bring healing to the crazy cycles we get stuck in. 99% of my kids’ disputes begin with, “I hit him because he hit me first.” While all this behavior is normal and understandable, Jesus had another way.“99% of my kids’ disputes begin with, ‘I hit him because he hit me first.’ While all this behavior is normal and understandable, Jesus had another way.”
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” – John 15:18-19
Jesus warned his followers of the hatred that was coming their way. But if Jesus proved anything it was that God’s love is vast enough to absorb the hatred thrown his way. And if the cross doesn’t do it for you, remember Jesus also famously counseled his followers to “turn the other cheek.”
In the book The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas unpacks the many layers of hatred that provoke violence and racism in America. Whether you love the book or hate it (ironic), the book is a thesis on hatred. The hate given to the black community, the hate directed at law enforcement, the hate involved in black on black crime—all of it simply produces ripples of chaos and violence. The only way to stop the ripples is to cease the ripples of hate. If that is going to happen, someone must be first. Someone must—in the name of love—absorb it rather than retaliating.
Are you willing to do that?
“Hate can’t drive out hate, only love can do that” – MLK
3) I hate you because I hate everyone (and I also happen to disagree)
One reddit reader wrote,
“I don’t hate people because I disagree with them, I hate everyone and just happen to disagree with some of them…”
While this comment was meant to be funny. I think it might be the most honest of the bunch. Not because I think most people hate everyone, but because in most cases hate actually precedes disagreement.
First we feel hatred, then we justify its existence.
Our hatred often has more to do with our own emotional and spiritual garbage than it does with the person that we actually hate. People make us feel insecure. Having villains makes us feel superior. So we come up with reasons why others are beneath us.
A secure person has plenty of grace to give, plenty of room to admit their own faults, and plenty of compassion to extend for the mistakes of others.“A secure person has plenty of grace to give, plenty of room to admit their own faults, and plenty of compassion to extend for the mistakes of others.”
Jesus looked at humans with compassion
All this hate talk brings to mind a single verse Matt 9:36.
When he [JESUS] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
When Jesus looks over the crowds he doesn’t see what we see.
When we stand before crowds, we make it about us. Are people with me? Are they against me? We are easily insecure and nervous under the scrutiny of others. When Jesus looked at the crowds it was about them. He could see into their souls. He looked at prostitutes, religious zealots, carpenters, priests, diseased, afflicted, rich, and impoverished and it MOVED HIM to be compassionate.“I talk big about love and ‘agreeing to disagree’ but there are certain types of people that I LOVE to HATE. And as Angie Thomas reminds me, The Hate I Give &*$#@ Everybody!”
Jesus sees people differently than I do. He is empathetic. He knows what his harassed and helpless sheep need.
I’m not so different than all the Reddit commentators. I talk big about love and “agreeing to disagree” but there are certain types of people that I LOVE to HATE. And as Angie Thomas reminds me, The Hate I Give &*$#@ Everybody!