"I planted the seed... but God made it grow." I Cor. 3:6

The Problem of Hate


I don’t know about you, but I am getting a little tired of being subjected to all the “hate” talk in the media.  Not long ago  a book was recommended to me because the author was supposedly similar to another author we have come to enjoy.  But within three sentences she was already bashing President Bush, and by the first page had spewed several additional hate barbs about the president. 


Now frankly, I have no problem whatsoever with people who disagree with the president on our stance toward terrorism or the handling of the war in Iraq.  But this woman was supposedly writing about spirituality.  I did not expect the hate stuff to seep out.


So, by page three I was getting tired of it (it happened yet again) and I quit the book for something else.  (It was an audio book from the library, so no big loss.)  A day later I thought I would give her one more chance and started on chapter six.  She was talking about the challenge of teaching Sunday school to inner city kids from broken homes, and zing, here she goes again, this time criticizing Bush Sr., then springing into some hate speech about Mr. Bush, our current president. 


You know how it is…. Whether it is talk radio or the opinion pages of our newspaper, the undercurrent of hate seems to be everywhere you turn. It is visceral and it concerns me. 


One morning last week I decided to write some thoughts in my journal about hate.  What follows are the statements I wrote. Afterwards I will comment on a few of them.


Hate is used as a tool to manipulate masses, unite people.

Hate is used by hate-mongers to move people to action.

Hate makes people feel good (alive)

Hate makes people feel bad (for hating, for being so controlled by it.)

Hate damages the hater.

Hate damages the hated.

Hate makes us irrational, difficult to reason with.

Hate will never solve interpersonal or international problems.

Hate is a form of slavery (to which we become chained.)

Hate can be a form of addiction (which makes us feel good about ourselves by deceiving us into thinking we are better than the hated.)

Hate is a serious problem in our world today.

Hate is evil.

Hate breaks things, damages and stains.

Hate produces great sadness in God’s heart.


The first statement comes from Eric Hoffer’s book The True Believer.  This 1951 analysis of mass movements is filled with powerful insights about how men like Hitler and Stalin manipulated the masses to consolidate power.  Hitler specifically used hatred of the Jews to unite the peoples in countries he conquered.  It is a scary thing to see, but it goes on today.  The NOW (National Organization of Women) has united women through hatred of men, some black groups unite people of color through hatred of whites, and some Conservative right wing groups promote fear and hatred of foreigners and liberals to keep people in their fold. (Would it really have been better dead than Red?) Communist propagandists create hatred between social classes by fostering envy.


“Hatred is one of the most effective unifying agents in mass movements,” Hoffer wrote.  “It pulls the individual away from his own self, makes him oblivious of his own fortunes and future and liberates him from his own jealousies and self-seeking.” 


Common hatred unites the most disparate elements.  “To share a common hatred… is to infect him with a feeling of kinship, and thus sap his powers of resistance.  Hitler used anti-Semitism not only to unify his Germans, but also to sap the resoluteness of Jew-hating Poland, Rumania, Hungary, and finally even France.  He made similar use of anti-communism.”


The statement that hate can make us feel good may have struck some of you as strange, but Hoffer also commented on this as well.  “Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.  Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new contentment not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance.  A mass movement offers them opportunities for both.”


Hatred is a very complex emotion.  For sure, it can never be God’s way.  Yet history has shown that many Christians have yielded to the temptation to take up the flag of hate.  Strange as it seems to us today, many Ku Klux Klan members have been church members, and so were many followers of Nazi Socialism.


I feel sad when I hear hatred behind the words of a writer, actor, celebrity or cultural spokesperson.   The Scriptures have spoken plainly about this.  In His sermon on the mount, Jesus very specifically outlines for us the Kingdom way of dealing with hate.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” He declared, “But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Further on the Lord explains, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” 


The Kingdom way is not man’s way.  Love is God’s way.  How can we say that we love God, whom we cannot see, if we do not love our brother, whom we can see?


Hate is like violence.  It is like a set of billiard balls, one striking another striking another, endlessly.  It resolves nothing, changes nothing.  On the other hand, what power there is in mercy, in grace, in forgiveness, in Love.  Love alone disarms hate. It is the most powerful force in the world, if we would but believe it. 


Do you believe it?




back to Seeds Intro