Preamble: if you don't consider yourself a Christian, please read on...there's stuff in this post for you too.

A question was brought up in the comments for my 12.24.07 post as it relates to Christians, "isn't it wrong to hate?"

If it is wrong to hate then God is a sinner.

The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. Psalm. 5:5

The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. Psalm 11:5

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. Psalm 45:7 (This passage is quoted in Hebrews and is attributed to words God Himself speaks to His Son.)

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him... Prov. 6:16

Obviously, the Christian must acknowledge that hatred in and of itself is not sin otherwise they make their God into a sinner. A sampling of some of the Wisdom books of the Old Testament reveal that righteous men must hate certain things if they are truly righteous:

I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the LORD. Ps. 31:6

Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Ps. 97:10

I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Ps. 119:104

I hate double-minded men, but I love your law. Ps. 119:113

...and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path. Ps. 119:128

I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law. Ps. 119:163

Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? Ps. 139:21

To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Prov. 8:13

The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace. Prov. 13:5

What you hate is an indicator of what you love. If you love truth, you will hate lies. If you love righteousness, you will hate evil. If you love God, you will hate the works of the devil.

Conversely, if you love lies, you'll hate truth. If you love darkness, you'll hate light. If you love wicked deeds, you'll hate those who live uprightly. Because of the polarization of Good vs. Evil you can't get through life without hating something. To truly say you hate nothing is to admit you are completely unprincipled. To hate nothing also means you love nothing. Christians shouldn't be so quick to pretend there is nothing in this world worth hatred. To someone with their brain turned on these Holy Joes only expose themselves to be a liar, a hypocrite or absolutely unprincipled. Or all of the above.

It is a false righteousness to pretend that you don't hate anyone or anything. These pretenders won't even use the word hate itself in conversation and will chastise you for doing so. They prove themselves to not be disciples of the God they claim to follow by this pretense at perfect equanimity. God is Biblically defined as the personification of the principle of love. "God is love". This is why God hates evil. "All who hate me love death" Prov. 8:36. He hates evil because it brings in destruction and death. God's people, if they are truly participating in His mindset and spirit will also hate evil. They won't be afraid to openly state that fact either. They won't pretend there isn't something out there worthy of hatred.

What you do with your hatred is where sin may come in. Hatred is not justification to do wrong. Psalm 4:4, "In your anger do not sin" gives a guiding principle. Anger is also not a sin. If we define all anger as being sinful then, again, we condemn our own God to be a sinner. What you do with anger or hatred can be sin if you use your anger or hatred to justify doing a wrong.

This is where Christians seem to get tangled up far too often. They too easily and quickly condemn negative feelings. Feelings are not something we can necessarily control. In both the spiritual and the tangible realm, we are held accountable for what we do. How you feel should not be the sole dictator of what you do. You are supposed to apply reason and self-control to your deeds because this is where the accountability comes in. You get to choose how to act despite how you feel. Or according to how you feel. It is reason guided by principle which a self-controlled individual will use to determine their actions. Your feelings may or may not line up with principled reason. It would be wise to put feelings in their proper place. What would that place be?

We need to think of feelings as simply a barometer. Bad feelings are telling us that something is wrong. Something is wrong in our environment, in someone else, or in ourselves. Those bad feelings motivate us to examine the situation in order to rectify what we are doing, or to recognize what someone else is doing and determine whether or not it is time to remove ourselves from the situation or person. Bad feelings do not mean we are automatically bad for having them! Bad feelings are information. Use them for that. Use your anger or hatred to motivate you to make a bad situation better. Not to justify doing wrong.

The Bible consistently condemns behaviors. I do not see the Bible condemning feelings. As Christians, we would do well to not condemn feelings either. Be they found in ourselves or in others. What determines our characters are our choices. We can choose to do right even if we are having to battle through difficult feelings in the process. That ability is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.

I'm not going to go into the "hate the sin, love the sinner" thing because it is too cliche' and is too often used to apply misplaced compassion onto perps, to keep people feeling obliged to stay in relationships with evil people, to excuse sins, or simply to sound righteous. In principle I agree with the statement. But we very often fail in the application. I do agree that the more we are able to separate out what we hate from the person themselves, the easier it is to not make our hatred about personalities and make it about principles. This helps us to stay on the right track in our actions. It helps us refrain from vengeance. Separating yourself from an evil narcissist is not vengeance. Be sure you know that. Holding evil people accountable for their actions is not vengeance. Know that too.

I know that I have written yet another post addressing Christians. I think that what I've said can be helpful for anyone though. Good people of whatever persuasion all seem to get pretzeled up into similar knots over these issues. Good people worry about having bad feelings toward others. Good people are concerned about doing right by others and so question themselves more than they question the evil doer. Good people can get befuddled over whether or not their anger is justified and/or evil in itself. So I hope if you aren't a Christian you still see there are useful truths that apply no matter your religion.

Feelings in themselves are morally neutral. What you do with them is where morality or immorality comes into play.

In the same comment this question was also posited:

What is it about Christians being so afraid to register legitimate anger and hatred in general...?

I suspect the answer to this may be complicated, so I won't try to address this at length. A problem I do see is that much of Christianity has substituted the real Gospel with a social "gospel of nice". This false gospel is mostly fueled and propagated by pop psychology. It is psychology which has placed far too much importance and emphasis on feelings to the exclusion of examination of character and the power of personal choice and responsibility. Suddenly, everyone else is now held responsible for an individual's feelings. The new "sin" of our age is when we "hurt" someone else's feelings. With this new commandment everyone is able to lay claim to victim hood while avoiding being held accountable for their own behaviors.

Pop psychology is being blamed by more astute observers for the rise of narcissism in our country. I think they are onto something. Pop psychology has also corrupted Christian thought. Other thoughtful and well-educated people in the field of psychology have called psychology a religion. In many ways it is a religion that is antithetical to Christianity. Attempts to meld the two only robs Christianity of its power to change lives.

...keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. 1 Tim. 6:20-21 KJV

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