Every once in a while you hear about a group of people who have decided that they know what God hates. Lately it seems like that kind of thing happens more and more often. So it’s obvious to me that the world has been waiting for me to clarify the issue, and state once and for all… the things God hates.
God hates traffic. God hates that the Illinois tollways are actually slower than just taking the side streets. And God really hates road construction, especially on the route between the northwest suburbs and Evanston. God hates that you can never find a parking space in Chicago.
God hates Microsoft Word. God wishes everyone would just admit that it’s glitchy as hell and get on board with Apple already. The Pope has an iPad – because he knows.
God hates winter, and wishes people wouldn’t complain about the heat because summer in Chicago is painfully short, and soon it will be winter again.
God also hates things that are threatening to the status quo, like the kinds of things that might make me uncomfortable or be inconvenient for me. God hates anything that will upset my personal apple cart.
I could go on, but by now the discerning reader has figured out that I’m being satirical. What I’ve done, of course, is to claim that God hates the things I hate – and especially the things I fear. And this is exactly what’s happening when people get out there with their signs and their megaphones. Anyone who does this is really making God in his or her own image.
Now, I know that the Old Testament does say that God hates a few things, such as idolatry (Deut 12:31, 16:22). It also says the Lord hates those who love violence (Psalm 11:5). And then there is Proverbs 6:17-19, which tells us that God hates seven things, although lying is in there twice, and there’s some other overlap so it boils down to pretty much the same thing – idolatry and violence. This is where it’s tempting to say that this is really just hyperbole and God only hates the sin, while loving the sinner. I guess that’s true, but it’s even more poetic than that, because apparently God hates body parts (hands that shed innocent blood, feet that run rapidly to evil, etc.), so there’s no way we can take this literally. In fact the very idea of God hating is an anthropomorphism anyway.
Even more important, though, is that if you’re going to talk about what God hates, we Christians really need to check the New Testament. Let’s assume for the same of argument that God hates whatever Jesus hates. That would mean God hates hypocrisy (Matthew 23), judgmentalism (Luke 6:37) and the refusal to forgive (Matthew 18:21-35).
All of this tells me that God wants me to be more concerned about the examination of my own conscience rather than worry about judging others. Why does this not occur to the people who claim to know what (and whom) God hates? Is it just me or is this whole thing ridiculous? It would be laughable, except that innocent (and often suffering) people are being harassed – their already painful situations are being made more painful by people who call themselves Christian. I want to slap them upside the head, but then I would be violent and God might hate me.
What does it say about human nature that my gut response to a lack of compassion is… a lack of compassion, and a desire to lash out? Angry people make me angry, and when I see hateful people I’m tempted to hate them. I’m not kidding – I believe so strongly in peace and loving one’s neighbor that when I see people who don’t… I want to punch them in the face.
As we approach the ten year anniversary of September 11th, 2001, this ironic paradox will be on my mind. Maybe I’ll write more about it, if I can put into words anything worth saying. Going forward, though, I don’t want to talk about what or whom God hates – I want to talk about what and whom God loves. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that God loves peace (covering both the what and the who). In fact, this was the song of the angels at the birth of Christ (you know, peace on earth and all that jazz – Luke 2:14). Of course we all know that the angels were singing in Latin like the Christmas song, but thankfully Luke was able to translate it for us.
If it’s true that God hates idolatry, violence, hypocrisy, judgmentalism and the refusal to forgive, then it’s safe to say God would appreciate it if we showed more faithfulness, peacemaking, humility, compassion and forgiveness. Seems like a no-brainer.
(Speaking of that, check out the Raven Foundation, for some of the things they’re doing to return some sanity to the world. Here they are on facebook.)
But why is it so easy to sink to the lowest common level and become what we hate? I think it’s because whatever the mind dwells on has the potential to become behavior, or even habit. In other words, thought leads to action. If we dwell on hate, we become hateful. If we dwell on violence, we become violent. Sometimes people even react to injustice by advocating other kinds of injustice.
In Spiritual Blueprint, I wrote about the home for your mind – another way of talking about peace of mind – which requires that we do not weigh ourselves down with anger, self-righteousness or holding a grudge. These things are a ball and chain that drag us down and prevent us from living fulfilling, happy lives. In fact, Jesus said that the refusal to forgive someone else is actually a sin (Matthew 6:14-15), so it even comes between us and God.
So whether someone has wronged us and we need to forgive them, or someone is different from us and we need to let go of the fear, can we please all just stop pretending that God hates everything we hate? Or worse, that God is afraid of everything we’re afraid of?
I guess peace of mind and peace on earth are kind of like the chicken and the egg. I don’t know which comes first – but I do know that there is an illusive but all-important connection between the two. What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this…