Christianity: not a religion of fluffy bunnies.
In Praise of Hate
by Hilary White
for The Remnant
April 21, 2015
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: “I sense a lot of anger in you…”
How many here have had someone say to them, with that infuriating tone of lugubrious and earnest condescension, “You seem to really be filled with hatred.”
I’m sure you’re familiar with the tone – that of a concerned but deeply disappointed nanny speaking to a rather bad child. It is popular among Neo-Catholics, people – usually women – who have received their religious training from the Novus Ordo world of pastel-coloured, soft-focus non-jugementalism; the Oprah-esque spirituality of hand-holding and faith-sharing. Of parochial, middle-class American Catholics who expect to be assured weekly by their pastors that the most important thing in the spiritual life is to feel “comfortable where they’re at”.
It is difficult to blame these earnest ladies, raised in this flaccid, psychologized pseudo-religion, peddled like mass produced Monet-print umbrellas in most of the US Church, from EWTN to the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference. As the catastrophic effects of the post-Conciliar era deepen, as the last remaining structures of the Church begin finally to crumble and fall, it is more and more commonly being quite aptly called “the Church of Nice.” And lawks yes! Do I ever hate it!
But God forbid, for the sake of our own salvation, that we should give up this hate. That we should fall into the sticky-sweet traps of the Church of Nice, and be intimidated and bullied into relinquishing, for the sake of social harmony, our hatred, our loathing, our passionate resolve against sin and iniquity, particularly against the sin of indifference. And we know from the Bible what God thinks of this pallid accommodationist religion, this lukewarm dishwater.
A few weeks ago I had a little dose of, “You seem really full of hatred…” and I’m quite proud of myself for refraining from saying the various things that popped into my head. But it did make me feel rather sorry for my interlocutor. She, I suppose, had never encountered passion in the Catholic faith, or met a fiery Irish temperament, and quite likely didn’t know how to interpret them.
Or maybe she had, and it had merely offended her well-insulated American sensibilities. She went on to complain about “those pro-lifers… You know, the ones with the huge ugly photos of dismembered babies…” I again refrained from detailing my involvement in founding Genocide Awareness Projects in Canada, Britain, Italy and Malta over the last fifteen years – the group with the big horrible photos who passionately oppose the greatest evil of our time.
I went away from that conversation wondering what it must be like to live without “anger” at and “hatred” for the evils that are so rapidly clamping down on the remnants of Christendom. To have no fire in the gut to fight injustice. What must it be like to have no flame in the soul, no hatred for iniquity, no desire to intervene, confront or speak up in the face of evil.
When I thought about it, I realised that what I ought to have said was, “You say that like it’s a bad thing…”
This easy-going and comfortable religion – all that is on offer at most parishes of the US, Canada and Britain – is found nowhere in the Bible. Indeed, it would have been anathematized by the Apostles and martyrs of the New Testament. Imagine what John the Baptist would have said if someone had said to him, “You really seem to have a lot of anger about Herodias… Maybe you should see someone…”
What are our emotions upon reading and meditating on the Passion and death of Christ? Yes, they are complex, ranging from huge grief, remorse and revulsion at the outrage and horror of killing the Author of life and love. It is an exercise in looking into the reality, the cosmic magnitude of the consequence of sin. We are repulsed and horrified at the idea that our own sins, our very own iniquity, was the cause. But there is nothing here that would help us “feel comfortable where we are.”
Nothing in the Bible produces feelings of comfortable OK-ness. That religion, the religion of the martyrs, is a religion of blood and suffering, drama and implacable confrontation with evil, with idolaters, with bloodthirsty tyrants, with seething and murderous hatred of the innocent and righteous followers of Christ. It is the chronicle of a long and ennobling war against evil.
Later, after the period of the martyrs was over, the mystics and Desert Fathers speak of going out to the pitiless desert, not for a holiday picnic with the angels, but to enter into “the combat,” a pitched and quarterless battle with the demons for souls, their own and the souls of others.
For some years now, I have been in the habit of venting my frustration with the wickedness of modern prelates and churchmen who would lead the little ones astray, deforming and even denying the doctrine and dogma, by sending a text message to a friend who understands: “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? and am I not grieved with those that rise up against Thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred; I account them mine enemies.”
That is from Psalm 139, the poem that describes the inescapableness of God’s knowledge and will and the intimacy of his complete and perfect knowledge of us, even of those thoughts we hardly dare to think to ourselves: “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down and art acquainted with all my ways.
“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me.”
After the psalmist declares his solidarity with God, and his taking of the enemies of God as his own, he adds the caveat: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Examine me, O Lord, and be sure that I hate your enemies “perfectly,” that is, in the same way you hate them, and if I do not, if I hate a man instead of his sin, I beg that you will correct me. Watch my every move, and never take your eyes off me and protect me from falling into sin myself.
God hates iniquity, and we sin if we also do not also hate these sins and hate them “perfectly”: idolatry, lust, adultery, dishonesty, usury and the love of violence.
The Bible starts talking about God’s hatred for sin in the very first book. A five minute Google search will reveal that there are no fewer than 139 separate uses in the Bible of the words “hate” and “hatred,” and a good many of these are examples of God hating bad things and requiring of us that we do the same, on pain of sin.
And first among the sins God hates and does not tolerate is idolatry: “Do not erect a sacred stone, for these the Lord your God hates,” and, “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”
Through the early books of the Bible, the instruction in the Law, we learn that the worst sins are not those of violence or deceitfulness against another person, but of abandoning the worship of God. It is not often now remembered that there is a hierarchy within the Decalogue; there is a reason that the commandment to worship God and Him alone is placed before all others.
Deuteronomy 5:9, “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”
In Exodus 23:5, we see an early version of Christ’s commandment to do good, even to those who hate us, “If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.”
And we are instructed in Leviticus not to hate a fellow Israelite, but to admonish him when he errs. The Biblical injunction to hate his sin out of love for him lays a responsibility on us to name it as such, to contend with it and oppose it, not to accept or tolerate it: “Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.”
But it is really in the Psalms where we get the clearest distinction made. The love of God is the paramount commandment, and love means obedience to His commands and to His worship. We are not to “tolerate” those who hate God and His commandments.
Psalm 5:5, “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong.” And again, Psalm 11:5, “The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.”
We hear from the righteous man speaking to us in the Psalms that he is righteous because he hates what God hates: wickedness, particularly the supreme wickedness of the worshipping of idols, of pagan rites and the willful turning-away from God. Psalm 31:6, “I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the Lord.”
As always, Bishop Sheen, in his 1932 article, “The Curse of Broadmindedness,” explains simply the principle found in the Bible, the writings of the saints and Doctors: “We must be tolerant to persons because they are human; we must be intolerant about principles because they are divine.
“We must be tolerant to the erring, because ignorance may have led them astray; but we must be intolerant to the error, because Truth is not our making, but God’s. And hence the Church in her history, due reparation made, has always welcomed the heretic back into the treasury of her souls, but never his heresy into the treasury of her wisdom.”
If I love inadequately, if I am lukewarm in my love, I will inevitably fail to hate that which opposes the Beloved. The opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference. To not care that the Beloved is hated, is opposed, is ignored or misrepresented, is indifference. God hates iniquity “passionately” and we can measure the strength and worth of our love for God by the passion of our revulsion at it.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
More righteous biblical hatred:
Psalm 119:113 – [ ס Samekh ] “I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.”
Psalm 119:128 – “…and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.”
Psalm 119:163 – “I hate and detest falsehood but I love your law.”
Proverbs 6:16-19 – “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among the brethren.”
Proverbs 8:13 – “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”
Proverbs 13:5 – “The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves.”
Isaiah 51:8 – “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.”
Amos 5:15 – “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.”
Hebrews 1:9 – “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”
1 John 4:2 – “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
Revelation 2:6 – “But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”