Ask An Evangelical: Preaching Hatred


Ask An Evangelical: Preaching Hatred

What do you want to know about Evangelicalism? Submit your question here.

By Scott McIntyre

Should evangelists preach hatred?

In answer to our most recent Ask an Evangelical question — Should evangelists preach hatred? — when it comes to some topics, absolutely not, but on others, most definitely.

If the hatred our questioner is referring to is hatred of a person, then NO, evangelists should not preach on hatred. All Christians are to love everyone, regardless of color, sex, religion, values, beliefs, behavior, and any other potentially divisive difference. But just because we must love all, it doesn’t mean we can’t hate things they do.

Bullying, child abuse, sexual assault, and many other actions, are probably close to being universally identified as hurtful to society and inappropriate, and in some cases, criminal. Is it wrong to hate these types of behaviors? I don’t think so and I’m not sure many others would disagree with my conclusion.

However, actions such as homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and abortion, though believed by some to be in the category of the previously mentioned activities, also have the backing of many as behaviors that are healthy, acceptable, and needed in our culture.

From an experience several years ago, that I feared would capsize my life, I think evangelists would do more good if they taught what loving a person, who is often hated for their life choices, looks like.

I was working for a stock brokerage and was an assistant to two agents. The one I remember was a lesbian. Her spouse didn’t visit the office and we were too busy to talk about our lives much, so it wasn’t a big deal. Until the baby.

They decided to have a child and my boss’s partner was going to carry it. One day it struck me, with a great deal of force, that an upcoming childbirth and a baby shower pretty much went together and who better to invite than your office co-workers.

Fearing that I would get an invite to an event that never should have happened, in my mind, because the basic relationship went against the Bible, I couldn’t begin to figure out how I should respond to the ‘joy’ everyone would be experiencing at the party or even if I should go.

But isn’t love sharing in other’s happiness? Isn’t love about putting differences aside and being a good example? Isn’t love more than just praying for someone? Isn’t love being an active part of another’s life?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what love should look like in a situation like I’ve described, and I’m still not positive I have the answers. What I do deeply remember about that event was never getting an invitation. Was I upset at being passed over? NO WAY! My life got SO much easier as the time for the party and later the delivery arrived. It was such a freeing experience that when I think about it today, I still breathe a sigh of relief.

But maybe that’s not the right response either. Perhaps I should have, before today, taken some time to figure out what love would have looked like. Conceivably, there could be someone out there now who could help me with this. Know any evangelists who teach on what it looks like to love?

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Mental Health: Which Kingdom Will I Seek?

All the experiences we have come to classify as mental health disorders are real. However, despite their being real, I sometimes question the emphasis that ought to be placed on them.

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B Heard

How about a simple thought experiment? Place yourself in the happy couple’s shoes. They want life. They created life. The child is thought about, planned for, and celebrated. What are your objections to celebrating their joy on experiencing this milestone of human existence? Isn’t it a tad solipsistic to reason that co-workers organizing to support the future of a new human being – and it’s parent(s), by proxy – has anything to do with your religious beliefs?
The Bible records that Jesus broke bread with sinners. He showed up when invited. He was available for conversation if anyone wanted to chat. He used this opportunity to demonstrate love. Here’s the catch: Jesus was invited by hosts who wanted to hear more.
In your case, it seems your co-workers had a better sense of how to respond than you did and fortunately (for all involved) kept you away from a celebration you “feared might capsize your life”. In the future, if anyone co-worker is having a celebration, say “yes” because you want to celebrate what they are celebrating. And when it’s your turn to have a party, consider how you want others to respond to your invite. Do you want them to come to celebrate what you invited them there for? Or would you rather they come and express how your party “never should have happened,” but they have showed up nonetheless because they are good people in the end?
No evangelicals have responded; please forgive this non-evangelical take on the situation if it’s unhelpful.

B Heard

Firstly, what defines “accepting their sinful behavior as acceptable”? We can speculate about Jesus’ conversations with these people or what might have happened during the course of a meal, but it seems irrelevant given the Biblical account: Jesus showed up, ate with sinners. Sinners showed up, ate with Jesus. This was the equivalent of a sin according to the Pharisees and the pervading religious culture. Jesus made it clear to the Pharisees that his behavior was not sinful. Standing adjacent to sin or being in the presence of sinners does not make oneself a sinner. (Although humans may be susceptible to sin in a way Jesus was not, acting with love like Jesus did is a pretty good shield against sin. Also, learning to say, “No, thank you” in a respectful manner is helpful.) You seem to want to redraw the same line as the Pharisees. In the Pharisees’ case, I see Jesus purposefully redirecting their thoughts, asking them to contemplate something deeper than their (cultural) assumptions when it comes to delivering mercy. I think Jesus hoped the religious leaders might learn to spark more faith with their teachings versus relying on cultural norms (i.e. ostracizing the most visible sinners) that compelled obedience at the same time they ignored the love meant to be the center of God’s law.

Secondly, I would like to understand what instances you believe Jesus “called sinners out for their conduct”. If someone asked him a question, it was answered with candor. His sermons were delivered to persons that came to hear the words. I don’t recall any passage where Jesus confronted the morals of the secular world at large or identified Gentiles worthy of rebuke by name. (In contrast, look at the way he characterized his Jewish culture in the Good Samaritan parable … and went out of his way to include the salvation of the Samaritan woman at the well.) Dude never pointed a finger … unless you were in the house of God. Then he had no problem physically casting out what did not belong. He aimed to cleanse the house of God, not the house of Workplace or house of Co-worker. My take is that Jesus went where invited and intervened in matters where Jewish law, tradition, and worship were the questions at hand. In other words, he effected change where he had personal connection and religious license.

Finally, I appreciate your response. I speak directly to get to my point and demonstrate passion. It is not my intent to rush to judgment. I’ve seen situations similar to yours play out and gained perspective from it. My perspective is, like everyone’s, perpetually narrow no matter how much I attempt to widen it. Fortunately, my upbringing taught me to see Jesus’ love in the most inclusive way possible and never use a person’s list of current and ongoing sins against them. That encourages a moral hierarchy of sins that (I thought) Jesus sought to negate. It’s always been about being a good neighbor, seeing where there is need for mercy and giving it abundantly. Your co-workers were not impoverished and needing of your mercy. They were replete (well-supplied, abundant) with hope and happiness. It seems everyone lost out, though, based on cultural assumptions similar to those documented in the Bible.

B Heard

I don’t think the chapter/verse numbers change across translations, so no particular version unless you think one is more representative of your beliefs over another.
It’s generous of you to consider much less respond to my questions. I passed by your commentary on my way to some other destinations on the internet. I am not one to post my two-cents worth online in general, but always enjoy engaging with fellow humans. Thank you for allowing me to “listen” – if you will – by reading about your experience and perspective.

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