Is it Ever Right to Hate?

Not so much a blog post, more a quick question for Monday morning: is it ever right to hate? I spent a little time yesterday catching up with some of my favourite (and not-so-favourite) blogs. Many were Christian, not a few were Catholic. One or two surprised me, perhaps troubled me might be a better word, with their vehemence about people or things they objected to. I don’t doubt the conviction or sincerity of the writers, but even when I agreed with their opinions, I sometimes felt very uncomfortable about the way in which they were expressing themselves. It is a challenge for every blogger. No one wants to read  dull or bland prose, but being passionate about something isn’t necessarily the measure of truth or persuasiveness. Do we need to be more careful how we express ourselves, or is it all right to hate? What do you think?

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19 thoughts on “Is it Ever Right to Hate?”

  1. Can we hate evil? If so what defines evil?
    Can dislike many things, but to hate reflects something within us that is part of the Fall of mankind.
    God’s Grace is needed always.

  2. The right to love & respect openly is god given but hatred & disrespect should be confined to the school playground & teenagers. Unfortunately, some or indeed most people fail to “Grow Up” & “Love to Hate” all the way to the top, appears popular nonetheless but surely not godliness?
    Demented politicians & schooling have a lot to answer for?

  3. I’m not sure how possible it is for us to have anything like a ‘pure’ form of hatred for what is evil on this side of eternity, but I suspect it is deeply important for us to name and understand the hate that is in us.

  4. I’m with you, I find it uncomfortable. I teach my kids that it is never ok to hate things. dislike, yes but hate no. It just seems such a powerful word (and indeed emotion) that can become all consuming. It someone ‘hates’ something it generally excludes any way of changing that feeling. so for a silly example when my daughter says she ‘hates broccoli’ it means she doesnt like the tatse, but also means she refuses to try it or eat in in varous dishes. she wont even entertain the idea. So in the same way, on a more serious level, adults who ‘hate’ refuse to entertain the idea that their minds can be changed and that I often feel is dangerous with such a negative emotion. Above all, we are called to love, and to love our enemies (whom one could be justified in hating) so as a Christian I cant believe it is ever right to hate…
    It’s like the simliar argument – ‘is righteous anger acceptable? I sometimes feel this is just a phrase that excuses peoples extreme dislike or hate of something…

  5. Here’s Aquinas, giving us a good start again : ‘It is lawful to hate the sin in one’s brother … but we cannot hate our brother’s nature and grace without sin. Now it is part of our love for our brother that we hate the fault and the lack of good in him, since desire for another’s good is equivalent to hatred of his evil. Consequently the hatred of one’s brother, if we consider it simply, is always sinful’ (ST II- ii, q.34, art. 3).

  6. I don’t recall any instances in the Gospels of Jesus hating or acting with hatred. Anger, yes. Good and persuasive argument, yes. Love , forgiveness and healing, yes. Perhaps his example is an answer.

    I think there is a distinction to be made between feeling hatred and acting out with hatred. When feeling hatred, let us act to heal the sin that repels us. Lacing our action or words with the venom of hatred, I think, poisons and perhaps nullifies the good we try to do.

    I often stop short when reading an opinion I agree with that crosses into hateful or diminishing speech. I wonder if I should continue reading to sift out the argument. I feel I collude in some way when I continue reading. A writer may ask if this is the experience they choose for their readers, and consider what undue burden he/she may be placing on them.

    I think hatred destroys and thus has no place in discourse that aims to move the argument forward.

  7. I face the same questions myself when I read my (often) favorite blogs or write on my own. It’s about the fragile, difficult balance between hating the wrong and not hating the wrongdoer, to hate evil with receptiveness and comprehension while not tolerating evil. Someone already quoted St. Thomas Aquinas here about it.

    In my opinion, we christians cannot be tempted to tolerate evil under the excuse we’re imitating Christ in His kindness and compassion, though we know He is our role model for embracing everyone, even on the face of evil. If we commit to never use harsh words, we ignore well-known passages of the Scripture where, for instance, Matthews dedicate a whole chapter describing how Christ called the pharisees names like “serpents” and “generation of vipers”. Those are surely hard words; to me, they show Christ’s hate against evil and hypocrisy, but they are not full of wrath.

    I think that we can start making this distinction in order to find balance: one can sometimes think on hate towards evil, but can never think on wrath.

    Sometimes I can see a (good?) hate even on the witty, smooth words of G.K. Chesterton, who I admire greatly. That hate is directed to wrong things, and he didn’t spare harsh, sarcastic words against some people personally. We can never say that Chesterton tolerated evil. But we can never say as well that he was a biggot or a man full of hatred.

    Love your blogs, your tweets and I’m couting on your prayers! =)

    • A harsh word spoken in anger can act as a lever to move others to new insight, if it uncovers the truth. I don’t think this is, however, the same thing as hateful, diminishing speech. Perhaps the question of intention is at play here as well.

  8. Hating the deed and not the doer is a huge challenge for Christians because, quite often, the two are very much bound up together in destructive values and attitudes to life.

    When we hate all that a person or organisation stands for, I feel our best hope is to offer it up to the Lord and let him deal with it. This facilitates renewal all round.

    As you point out, there is a trend of angry blogging now (on all fronts) but I suspect it achieves little because it comes across as ill-tempered and subjective and therefore actually loses eloquence. It is good if the energy of hatred can be turned to passion for the constructive which not only negates the bad but supplants it with a fruiting crop. Sow good seeds and the weeds are choked out.

    In the main, I don’t think we are called upon to ‘take on’ issues as much as praying for the coming of Christ and investing all our efforts in that objective as we see it. Satan is never so happy as when we are tied up doing battle with him.

    When the disciples were sent out, two by two, they were encouraged to bless wherever they sojourned, but to wipe the dust from their feet and move on if their witness was unwelcome. This is a powerful testimony against evil and not merely a rule for fixing a sense of purpose.

    Living ‘as if’, keeping focused on Christ’s Kingdom, is what creates change for the better and what will ultimately usher in his reign.

    • Perhaps dusting off our feet and walking away as these disciples were bid to do suggests a strategy for us of leaving the doorsteps of the blog-o-sphere where hateful speech is found.

      • Yes, that’s actually what I feel, Margaret. Our time and energy are precious and we need to think twice about how they’re spent.

        I’m not sure whether it was Alec Vidler, or someone else, who said: ‘Every pound you spend is a vote for the way you want the world to be.’ If that’s true, it must equally apply to our efforts to be Christian citizens.

  9. I’ve always understood that hatred is the opposite to love and that both emotions are closely tied together.

    I wonder to what degree is ‘dislike’ linked to hate? Because it seems a very short step from one to another.

    But hate is a very powerful and destructive emotion – it can ruin lives, leads to all sorts of terrible behaviour and has been used to excuse acts of murder or worse hence the so called ‘Crime of Passion’.

    I know that I’ve felt very strong antipathy towards people who have hurt me in my lifetime, but I don’t know if that is classed as hate. I believe that such a power emotion means that you would want their destruction, and is ultimately sinful.

    I know that I’ve felt hurt and damaged by things or people in my life, which has caused me to use strong words against them, thankfully, I’ve sought support, have been able to work them through and to put them aside.

    Jesus’ points us towards his father, who is love. We are bid to love ourselves and as others here say, hate the sin, not the sinner. How easy is that to do, without forgiveness?

    From my own experience I know that if we are hurting, we can write some strong and destructive thing. I’ve come to see that that discretion is needed before we share them with the world – better to take them to a confessor or spiritual director and work through them, laying them at the foot of the cross, because Jesus made that offer to us freely as a gift.

    The thing that I can’t now understand is how we allow prejudice or strong feelings control or dominate our lives? Life is given to live to the full in Jesus Christ, it appears to me that once we fully accept him and submit to his will the change happens that lifts those burdens of hate and prejudice and allows us to see in all we meet the image of Christ and we love them unconditionally, no matter who they are or what they may have done.

    Acceptance of Jesus’ love for us is the crucial step.

  10. I would add that, where we find hatred, in ourselves or in others, we are first to turn to God, to have recourse in prayer to heal the hatred, to be transformed, by God’s grace, to our better selves. Hatred is not to be met with hatred but with the transforming power of prayer and its fruits. Speech comes after this prayer and transformation. If our pens or keyboards still drip with hatred then silence is in order. There is no good to come of joining ourselves to hateful discourse.

  11. I have been wrestling with this question all day.

    Certainly, on what one might call the politics of our Church, I and several like me are, I think I would use the word ‘aghast’, at some recent developments. It is as if we are all in a boat attempting to steer a course between Scylla and Charybdis. Those in the galley have one view on the best course to steer, but the captain thinks differently. Do those in the galley hate the captain? No. Are those in the galley passionate and vehement in their attempts to persuade the captain to change course? Yes. Would a dispassionate observer be struck unpleasantly by the shrill cacophony and and sheer bad manners of those in the galley? Yes, and rightly so. What is to be done? At this juncture, all we can hope for is a return to calmer waters thanks to the forces of nature, or the emergence of a new captain who can encourage us all to row in the same direction.

    One possible candidate has emerged who “on the subject of women bishops [he] speaks of the need to square the circle, reconciling those who think it a theological necessity and those who think it a theological impossibility. How do you do this? “Well, you just look at the circle and say it’s a circle with sharp bits on it.”

  12. Hate is an absence of Love. Why would one want to burden oneself by living in the absence of Love even if it was deemed to be “right” to do so?

  13. Abusive relationships often involve not only violence and destruction but also moments of love and beauty. The victims (especially kids) are often heartbreakingly loyal. To break the cycle, to escape, you need to concentrate on the negative stuff to the exclusion of anything good. This may involve hating the abuser. The risk is of course that you become a “hater” but at least you survive and can hopefully move on to better things. So even in these cases, hate should be a safeguard rather than a permanent state of being.

  14. Thank you all for your comments. It is interesting that this post has ‘encouraged’ more spam than any other. Is it the use of ‘hate’ in the title? I don’t know, but vaguely sense it must be significant.

  15. PS: I should have mentioned Luke 6. 22 as well, even before Aquinas (!) : “Blessed are you when men hate you … on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for great is your reward in heaven.”

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