A yellow sedan was seen motoring around Raleigh, NC today with a bumper sticker that reads, “Hatred is not a family value“. Based on the other stickers on the back of that vehicle, it may be assumed that the sticker was an attack on the conservative right wing. With the presidential election year now underway, mud is beginning to sling in multiple directions. Almost everyone is tempted to say something hateful about opposing candidates, and those who aren’t tempted likely have their head in the sand. It’s easy to see why a passionate supporter of one political party could view the actions of the opposing party as being hateful. The owner of this sticker most likely feels hated by radical right wingers, while family values voters who view this sticker may feel offended by the sticker and possibly perceive hatred from its owner.
Yes, hatred is not a family value, but is it a Christian value?
“9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:9-10)
Christians must never hate a person, regardless of any offense, for all people were made in the image of God and are deeply loved by God.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
However, like God, Christians must be haters of sin. To turn a blind eye to sin is to accept it. Temptation is crouching at the door, so as soon as hatred for sin ceases, the door unlocks, and sin creeps inside the heart and home.
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
The problem comes when Christians focus on hating the sin they see in others or the sin others staunchly defend without considering their own sin.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
All people have areas of temptation, but each person’s stronghold may be very different from another. One person may focus on another person’s adultery or someone else’s homosexuality while completely ignoring his or her own gluttony. One person may have a perfect reputation, a faithful marriage, and a lifetime of abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs while greedily holding back the tithe that belongs to God. Christians must examine themselves first before casting judgment on others.
23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:23-25, NIV)
So how does a believer hate sin without hating the sinner? Not until a Christian has humbly dealt with his own sin through repentance can he then show genuine love to another. Having experienced bondage to sin himself, a true believer cannot stand by and do nothing while a close friend wallows in sin’s chains for a lifetime. Judgment belongs to God (Deuteronomy 1:17), not man. Jesus came to save the world, not to condemn it, and salvation can only come through Christ.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3: 16-18)
Christians simply cannot expect those outside of the faith to behave like perfect Christians or to follow the same standard.
1 Corinthians 5:12
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
Christians should be less focused on judging outsiders and more focused on leading them to Christ. Love will win the lost while hatred will turn them away. As sinners, Christians included, fall deeper in love with Jesus and fix their eyes on Him, they will begin to desire nothing else on earth but Christ and hate any sin that pulls them away from Him.
Once a genuine love relationship has been established with someone who professes faith in Christ, then a true friend will gently and lovingly lead his friend into the way that is right.
Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.
Instead of casting insults and condemnations, a loving friend will paint a picture of freedom from the sin that is enslaving the friend while offering encouragement and hope. It helps to point the friend to others within the church who have overcome the same type of sin through the power of God. Praying Bible promises and relevant Scriptures over the friend is vitally important. True friends will be open and honest about their own struggles and share how God has been working in their lives.
Allowing the culture to accept and even promote immoral behavior that will have long-term devastating impacts on the culture by simply doing nothing is certainly not God’s will for the Christian. Harsh words, angry protests, and burning buildings are not effective responses either. If Christians could choose instead to hate sin, their own sin first, while prayerfully and compassionately loving sinners and pointing them to Jesus, then the world could gradually become a more loving, peaceful place.
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