Hate. Somehow Christians have managed to associate themselves with hate. It’s a generalization, but Christians are hateful people.
So is that a bad thing? Is it inherently wrong to hate? I intensely dislike spiders. I hate spiders. I have an extreme aversion to feta cheese. Hate it. According to Malachi, God hates divorce. And in Romans, he tells us to hate what is evil.
Hate, in and of itself, has some merit – a certain necessity even. But where’s the merit in this: Barna research (www.barna.org) revealed in a survey that 1 in 5 Americans cited Christians’ contribution to society as being “violence and hatred incited in the name of Jesus Christ.”
While studying left-handedness in culture I stumbled across a Baptist church website via Google. It was a forum post on the church’s website and the premise was that lefties were destined for an eternity in hell. “According to Scripture” God undoubtedly prefers right-handers…who knew? Below was a picture of the President and his wife and a caption that read, “Barack Hussein Obama and his slutty wife Michelle.” See where the 1 in 5 get their opinions from?
We could create a website, ThingsChristiansHate.com, and be trending in less than a week. Those whose message is a gospel of grace are more associated with hate than with the content of their gospel. Hatred is a problem.
The topic of gay marriage has shifted from CNN to ESPN this week with news of Jason Collins, the first athlete of 1 of the 4 major sports to out himself as a homosexual. And while Jason Collins is filling talk shows and twitter feeds; close behind is Chris Broussard, an NBA analyst whose comments caused a stir – ” I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is.”
Believe it or not the world is waiting to see how Christians react. Will Westboro Baptist break out their “God Hates Fags” signs? Will callers fill the airwaves with comments about Adam and Steve? Facebook posts condemning all homosexuals to hell?
Most likely and unfortunately, yes. But how should Christians react?
There’s a story in Christ’s life in which he’s interrupted by a group of men with rocks in hand prepared to stone an adulterous woman. The men are seeking Christ’s approval in their act when Jesus suggests that the first of them without sin cast the first stone….slowly the stones begin dropping to the ground. Now consider the difference here between condone and condemn. To condone is to overlook or give approval. Whereas condemn is to express unfavorable judgment.
In our story the men with rocks in hand are seeking to condemn the woman when Christ eliminates that chance. And Jesus’ words to her are “Has no one condemned you? Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Jesus doesn’t overlook or approve her decisions and it isn’t that we should condone all things, forgetting our obligation to truth; but it’s possible to not condone without ever condemning. The two words are not inseparable!
And yet we stand poised with rock in hand prepared to hurl condemnation at anything and anyone we deem worthy of being stoned. Hatred in hand. Judgment in our hearts. But our gospel is of a Savior who had everyone drop their stones, drop their hatred, and examine their own lives, not the lives of others.
Can’t we begin to separate Christianity from hatred? It will start with us dropping some stones, abandoning our need to condemn. Separating condone and condemn. And finding ways to speak truth with grace and love rather than with hate. Whether you condone Jason Collin’s lifestyle or not is one thing; but leave the condemnation out of it. Maybe you sincerely think God prefers righties to southpaws; just leave your condemnation and hate out of it.
About the Author: Brad Evans is the Minister of Middle School Students at First Baptist Church of Benton. He holds a bachelor of arts in theology from Ouachita Baptist University and a master of arts in youth and family from Denver Seminary. Check out his columns at First Arkansas News.