Hater is a slang term, that can be used several ways. Generally it is used to refer to those who express their intense dislike or hate toward someone or something . Recently a small church in Kentucky has banned interracial marriages, which would classify them as “haters”.
The resolution says anyone is welcome to attend services, but interracial couples could not become members or be “used in worship services or other church functions”.
More widely known is Westboro Baptist Church, which has certainly gained notoriety as haters. They are known for picketing funerals and other events with their signs that read “God hates ____” fill in the blank. Homosexuals are the primary target of their ire. Their antics have gone all the way to the Supreme Court where the court ruled 8-1 that their speech was protected. Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion of the court:
The church’s congregation believes that God hates and punishes the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality, particularly in America’s military. … Westboro believes that America is morally flawed; many Americans might feel the same about Westboro. Westboro’s funeral picketing is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible.
The behavior of Westboro is certainly detestable and morally flawed. However their actions are not negligible to public discourse. There actions have a negative impact on the perception of Christians by some in the public. Tim Dalrymple regarding the media’s promotion of the extreme views of some:
So it’s easy to get the impression that conservative evangelical churches are filled with fire-breathing hate-peddlers. It’s easy to conclude that conservative evangelical churches are not centers for gospel proclamation, for healing the damaged and the wounded, and for expressing God’s grace through acts of love to the community …
In my own experience when colleagues at work find out I am a Christian, I have gotten question regarding the picketers holding their “God hates” signs. I have no doubt the example of this Kentucky church will come up in the near future. These examples leave people, particularly those who are not Christians, wondering what this God is all about and what is wrong with His professed followers.
We are all sinners. While it may be politically incorrect to say, it is true that homosexuality is a sin. A sin that can disqualify us from God’s kingdom.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)
But read that verse again and we see that homosexuality is one sin listed among many sins. And the problem in simple logical form:
- None are Righteous (Rom 3:10)
- The Unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor 6:9)
- Therefore no one will inherit the kingdom
If we are honest with ourselves we know that we are all sinners deserving God’s wrath. We are all in need of God’s grace. God does not hate one sin, He hates all sin. Furthermore it is a false dichotomy to think that to hate the sin, we must also hate the sinner. If that were true their would be no hope for anyone because that would mean God would hate us too. But that is not true. God demonstrates that He can hate the sin and still love the sinner.
Consider the example of Jesus. Jesus was called a friend of sinners and was known for spending time with them (Matthew 9:11; 11:19; Luke 7:34; 15:2; 19:7). As Jesus was traveling he came to the town of Samaria called Sychar where He met a woman at a well. He asked her for a drink and sparked a conversation that would turn her life and eternal destination around (John 4:7-42). Let’s join that conversation in mid stream:
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet…. I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
That woman got up and went into the town to tell others and
[m]any Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Now, imagine how that might have played out if instead of sitting down and asking her for water, Jesus and his disciples stood around the well as people came to draw their water with signs that read “God Hates Adulterers” and “You’re Going to Hell”.
We are ambassadors of Christ. That means where ever we go we are to represent what He would do. And we have been given the message of reconciliation. God and man are reconciled because Jesus took on sin and death on the cross . God will not hold the trespasses against us and those who are in Christ. The question then is what kind of ambassadors are we?
We must also remember that Jesus was a friend of sinners but He did not condone their sin or join in it. He also warned us not to accept the sin of others but to confront it in love and with the goal of restoration (Matt 18). He would not condone the practices of gay marriage or the ordination of practicing homosexuals just as he would not accept church leaders who are committing adultery or worshiping idols.
As for the members of Westboro, how well are they doing as ambassadors of Christ
and whether they are true Christians? You be the judge of that remembering that Jesus said people are known as His disciples by their fruits and the love they have for others (John 13:35). Ironically, John later wrote that if you love God then you could not be a hater (1 John 4:20) and that haters would not have eternal life (1 John 3:15). Jesus furthermore warned:
Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes (Matt 18:7)
I will close with this observation, haters miss out on what gives God great joy:
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance – Jesus (Luke 15:7)