By Lance Cordle
Some of those reading this can recall a television show called “Our Gang.” It flourished in the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s, but enjoyed a comeback in the ‘70s. It featured a lovable group of kids who occasionally got into mischief. Viewers identified with “Spanky,” “Alfalfa,” “Buckwheat” and others of the regular cast. One of the funnier aspects of the show was to watch the little boys establish and join the “He-man Women Haters Club.” Everyone watching knew the little boys really did not mean to hate women, but they were expressing the normal feelings of little boys before they become adolescents, then men. Viewers knew it was a juvenile action and understood they really did not mean to hate women, and would “grow out of” that attitude.
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defined hate as an “intense hostility and aversion usu. deriving from fear, anger or sense of injury.” In his book, Flesh and Spirit, William Barclay described the Greek word translated “hate” as, “the attitude of mind and heart which puts up the barriers and draws the sword” (p.42). Hatred is no mere immature feeling, caught up in a moment of excitement. It is an attitude that has been built and harbored, usually with inaccurate information. The intensity of such an action implies a lingering of the feelings associated with the hostility toward the object.
Contrast these definitions with the current labeling of opposition as “hate.” If someone within our culture disagrees with or opposes the ideas of another, it is very likely that they will be described as a “hater.” Even though the opposition may not be personal, the one who reacts by labeling can gain an upper hand in public opinion by describing their opponents in such a manner. Free thought and free speech are thus cast aside, and meaningful discussion, which might be conducive to a solution of the problem, is made impossible.
Labeling people as “haters” by those whose actions are called into question actually brings about what some of the labelers oppose, namely, prejudice. If certain actions bring severe consequences for the person committing those actions, are we hating a person for pointing out those consequences? If we oppose a course of action by a person or group on the basis of the merit of the ideas behind those actions, are we haters?
Of course, such labeling comes about from a culture that uses extreme language for frivolous activities: e.g., “I love apple pie!”; “I hate that music!”
God, Himself, has things He hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). He opposes actions that harm people, and the attitudes behind the actions. However, God has “so loved the world” (John 3:16). This in its basic message, means that He hates the sin, but loves the sinner. May we, by our words and actions prove that we love people, but are opposed to the degrading, disgusting and divisive attitudes that are running amok among people today.
- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.