By Rob Slane
Where do you stand on hate? Are you for it or against it? Surely you can #uniteagainsthate, or one of the many similar hashtags trending on Twitter? I mean what could possibly be wrong with uniting against hate? We should all hate hate, shouldn’t we?
The first response to those peddling this nonsense is to recognize that we are all haters. As creatures made in the image of God, we are designed to hate. We are designed to hate because we are designed to love. God is the ultimate hater, and the reason for this is because He is Love. Of necessity, He must hate that which is opposed to what He defines as good and right. For instance, the Bible tells us that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16); that He hates lying lips (Proverbs 12:22); that He hates robbery and wrong (Isaiah 61:8).
Just as the concept of hot and cold would be meaningless if temperature was uniform, so too the concept of love requires that there is its opposite. Therefore, the question is not whether we will hate, but what we will hate. As fallen creatures, our love and our hate are often skewed in opposite directions from where they should be, so that we end up calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).
The last few years—and perhaps this year more than ever—have seen the word hate being used as a sociopolitical tool in a number of insidious ways. The first, which is perhaps the least harmful, is the meaningless bandying about of the word in response to high profile public crimes. For instance, in her response to the Orlando killings, Hillary Clinton trotted out, “Hate has absolutely no place in America.” Quite apart from the fact that she, along with President Obama and Donald Trump, was completely wrong about the shooting—Omar Mateen was a homosexual and had no known connections to a terrorist organization—what exactly does her statement mean? Nothing! It is a meaningless platitude, not to mention being untrue. If hate has no place in America, why was she having to comment on such a case in the first place? Clearly there’s a lot of hate about, but do we really need Mrs. Clinton to tell us that an act of murdering 49 people and injuring many more is not an act of love?
When I say that this is the least harmful socio-political use of the word hate, that doesn’t mean that it is entirely free from mischief. It is noticeable that certain politicians are very quick to use the word when describing an atrocity, and then quickly link it to their pre-packaged solution to all such atrocities. In the Orlando case, after invoking the word hate, both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton moved swiftly to connect the killings to the issue of gun control. You really are meant to draw a certain conclusion from that link.
However, the overuse of the word hate doesn’t stop at political platitudes. The second way that the word is being used is in the criminal justice system, where crimes that are said to have been motivated by “hate” now receive greater punishments than those which apparently are not.
Imagine that you are walking down the street and you get beaten up by a gang. You end up in hospital, close to death. Now imagine that the men who did this evil thing are caught, it is found that their motive was that they just wanted to beat someone up, and you were the unfortunate target they chose.
Now rerun the scenario and this time imagine exactly the same thing happening, but this time their motive was the color of your skin (whatever that happens to be), or perhaps your nationality (whatever that happens to be). Which is the worse crime?
In a society governed by the rule of law, both should be treated as equally heinous crimes. In both scenarios, you end up hospitalized, with doctors and nurses doing their best to save your life. A criminal law system is meant to judge that and nothing else.
But doesn’t the motive in the second scenario render the crime all the worse? No! The racialist or nationalist motives are heart issues, not criminal justice issues. It may be the case that there are deeper sin issues in the lives of those who beat you up because of your skin color. Then again, there may well be as many sin issues in the lives of those who beat people up for kicks. But the purpose of a justice system is not to punish people for their wrong motives, but rather to punish people for their actions.
The failure to recognize and understand this crucial distinction gets us into a monumental mess. First, it means that we end up with a two-tier legal system where the same crimes are judged differently. Second, it means that because we are now starting to prosecute motives as well as crimes, the way is paved for assumed motives to become crimes in their own right.
Which leads us to the third and most sinister use of the word hate as a sociopolitical tool. In our post-modern goo society, the Cultural Marxists in charge are busy redefining our whole moral code for us, and one of the many ways they are doing this is by defining opposition to certain things as being axiomatically hateful—opposition to same-sex marriage, opposition to abortion, opposition to transgenderism, opposition to egalitarianism, opposition to mass immigration, to name just a few. Those who don’t agree with social liberalism are thus characterized as having phobias and of being haters.
Make no mistake, this is a tactic, designed to set up a dichotomy: the social liberals are set up as those who are full of love and the Milk of Human Kindness, and the social conservatives are set up as backward, oppressive, and driven by hate. This throws the social conservatives off balance, defending themselves against charges that are—in most cases—spurious and without foundation.
Social liberals are very quick these days to use this tactic. Just to give one example, in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, many people who voted “Remain” took to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to vent their fury with those who had apparently “robbed them of their future.” They then went on to accuse those who had voted “Leave” of being driven by hate towards people from other countries. Some may have been. But the majority? Not a chance. Yet it had the desired effect, making many people who voted “Leave” feel somewhat shamed and embarrassed by their decision.
In his classic dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell gave us the Two-Minute Hate—a time set aside every day for Party members in Oceania to gather together and watch a film depicting the enemies of the Party. During that two minutes, they would work themselves into uncontrollable exclamations of rage and eventually a frenzy of yelling and cursing towards their apparent enemy.
In our society, I see a sort of reverse Two-Minute Hate taking shape. Instead of actually screaming hate at those who oppose their beliefs, social liberals are yelling that their opponents are full of hate and need to love more. And so Twitter and other social media are full of calls to #UniteAgainstHate, to #DisarmHate and platitudes about there being #Noplaceforhate. Call it the Two-Minute Love.
As a tactic it’s highly successful, throwing opponents off balance and making many feel ashamed for expressing perfectly reasonable opinions. And because of that, it has all the hallmarks of a totalitarianism in the making. Hate has now become a catch-all term that is used to silence people and suppress ideas that don’t fit in with the favored narrative of our day.
It must be resisted, but how? As much as possible, we should do so by ignoring the Two-Minute Love completely. If the tactic is designed to shame us into defending our views against the charge that they are hateful, the one thing we shouldn’t try to do is defend ourselves against the charge. That only leads to digging ourselves deeper into the hole that has just been dug for us. Instead, we should treat it like water off a duck’s back, ignoring it and going onto the offensive to take the question back to them. This is basically how Jesus responds to the questions put to Him in Matthew 22.
Suppose someone you know to be hostile asks you what you think of “same-sex marriage.” They want to get you on the charge of homophobia. Don’t let them. Ask them what they think marriage is. Ask them what they think about the idea of a lifelong covenant, with penalties for adultery, and with the idea of no-fault divorce entirely excluded. Ask them if that’s what they were thinking of when they were supporting the rights of homosexuals to marry. I can assure you it won’t be. But by turning the tables, putting them on the defense, it might just be the kind of thing that side-lines the infantile taunts of “hater” or “homophobe,” and instead leads to a proper discussion of marriage, and of the God who ordained it.
Rob Slane lives with his wife and six home-educated children in Salisbury, England. He is the author of The God Reality: A Critique of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, contributes to the Canadian magazine Reformed Perspective, and blogs on cultural issues from a Biblical perspective at www.theblogmire.com.