God’s Love and God’s Hate

How to reconcile God’s Mercy and Compassion and Love and God’s Holiness and Justice and Hate is a difficult question we should not just gloss over.

If words when used in relation to God flatly contradict the plain language understanding of those words when used of others then to use them of God is an abuse of language. We would be better off with a tautology, that “God’s godliness is godly.” A tautology is better than nonsense. When we say things like God’s wrath on sinners is an act of love it is an abuse of language. Perhaps love spurned (like an unfaithful spouse) may motivate someone to wrath, but an expression of wrath is never considered an act of love from anyone except God.

Worse than wrath is hate. Are we going to say that hate really means love? God hates the idolatrous (Leviticus 20.23), God hates the unjust (Psalm 5.5), God hates the violent (Psalm 11.5), God hates liars and dissenters (Proverbs 6.16-19), God hates the wicked (Hosea 9.15). Or that by hating these people God is really loving them? God is love (1 John 4.8) but scriptures tell us he does hate.

To say that God would prefer that these repent and obey doesn’t solve the problem. He may want to save all and prefer all repent so that he can love them, he may be ready to forgive and love anyone, but, to hate sinners (Both Mao and Gandhi) and damn them-giving them eternal life to be able to torture them mercilessly and without end-is not a loving thing to do, however just it may be.

And many people we too hate and want to see them damned: Child molesters, murderers, genocidal tyrants, Wall Street Bankers. But we don’t pretend that thereby we love them. In fact, as Christians we feel that we are somehow not loving enough, that we are not enough like sunday-school-Jesus. Why do we pretend that God has somehow squared the circle?

Reconciling God’s hate and wrath with his predication as love is baffling, insisting they are the same thing is nonsensical. To pretend otherwise is Pollyannaish, and does disservice to christianity, reinforcing stereotypes of Christianity as muddle-headed wish-fulfillment.

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