Should we respond to hate with more hate?

Should we respond to hate with more hate?  I dare say, most people know the answer to this question.  It’s generic.  It doesn’t specify what kind of hate.  So chances are, most people would say “no, we should not respond to hate with more hate”.  The problem is, in the back of our minds, there’s an “unless it’s ______”.  If we’re talking about the specific kind of hate that pushes our buttons – the answer is quite different.  Even if we don’t like to acknowledge it.

Should we respond to hate with more hate?Hate

A couple days ago, I wrote Say bad things about me and I’ll destroy you.  It was about Donald Trump’s response to people who say bad things about him.  And how he admits that he does respond to hate with more hate.  It’s also about how, in spite of that, lots of Evangelical Christians support him.  In fact, so many support him that they were the difference between him winning and losing the last election.

More hate

Today, we’re going to the other side of the aisle.  We’re going to look at an article from conservativereview.com.  It’s titled Maxine Waters gets her wish: Antifa mob ATTACKS Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens.  I know – it’s conservative reporting on something that came out of a comment from a liberal.  I’m using it partly because it’s the one that came up on google.com this morning. I’m also using it because it makes my point quite nicely.  It shows exactly why we should not respond to hate with more hate.

In case you don’t remember, there was a n event in Los Angeles that we’ll go back to.  Maxine Waters said this:

“If you think we’re rallying now you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Waters said at a rally in Los Angeles in June. “If you see anybody from that [Trump] Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

As you probably know, this wasn’t the first arrow sent flying.  I don’t have the time, energy, or space to go back and recount everything that both of these people have said.  So I’m just backing up one month to this one event.  We saw in Say bad things about me and I’ll destroy you that Trump has no issue at all with upping the ante in a war of words.  The same appears to be true for Maxine Waters.

There is at least one other thing the two have in common.  Donald Trump claims to be Presbyterian, according to an interview that CNN did with his pastor.  Maxine Waters claims to be Christian, according to pewforum.org.   No denomination for her – just Christian.  So both claim to be Christian.

Respond to hate with more hate – is this Christian?

There’s no denying what we’ve all seen / heard / read about.  The behavior of responding to hate with hate is something they both share.  So this begs the question – is this Christian behavior?  Should two Christians be responding to each other the way they are?

Luke records Jesus as saying the following:

Lk 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,

But I don’t think either Trump or Waters is engaged in this escalating “hate and more hate” dialogue to bless each other.  Besides, you may have noticed the comma at the end of the verse.  That’s because it’s not really the end of the verse.  Here’s the whole thing:

Lk 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.

It’s pretty obvious from the context of what’s been going on between them that none of this has to do with Jesus.  So let’s keep looking.

Should we respond to hate with love?

Should we respond to hate with love?  Like the original question, this one is generic.  Most people would answer yes – we should respond to hate with love.  But once again, that back of the mind thing will kick in and say “no, in this case we can’t respond to hate with love.”  

But there’s a problem with that.  Jesus spells it out quite nicely just a few verses later in Luke’s gospel.

Love for Enemies

Lk 6:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Could this get any clearer?  Love your enemies.  Do good to your enemies.  Bless your enemies.  If your enemy strikes you – physically or with words – turn the other cheek.  Both Trump and Waters failed to do these things.  Even though both claim to be Christian.

However, there is one thing from the list that they both seem to be pretty good at: do to others as you would have them do to you.  Strike back.  Escalate the war of words.  The problem is, when that one verse is taken out of context, as I just did, it misses the whole point.  We’re supposed to want others to be good to us – and we show that by the example of being good to others, even if they hate us.  But that’s not happening here.

Lk 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

This last passage is even worse.  Jesus expected that even the worst of people would love the ones who loved them.  But is even that happening here?  This is going to be somewhat indirect, but I believe still very applicable.

Jesus says Christians should be different from what He terms the “sinners”.  By that He meant what we see below:

268 ἁμαρτωλός [hamartolos /ham·ar·to·los/] adj. From 264; TDNT 1:317; TDNTA 51; GK 283; 47 occurrences; AV translates as “sinner” 43 times, and “sinful” four times. 1 devoted to sin, a sinner. 1A not free from sin. 1B pre-eminently sinful, especially wicked. 1B1 all wicked men. 1B2 specifically of men stained with certain definite vices or crimes. 1B2A tax collectors, heathen.  1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Culturally, Jesus was talking about the worst of the worst.  Even the worst of the worst do good to those who do good to them.

Now, keep in mind that both Trump and Waters were elected to their respective offices.  The people who voted for them were doing so with the expectation that they were doing a good thing.  True – it was likely expected as good for both the person voting and for the person they voted for.  But still – it was doing a good thing.  In turn, Jesus says even the worst of the worst would then turn around and do good for the people who did good for them.  In this case, Jesus would be saying that Trump and Waters would be doing good for the people who voted for them.

Further, since both claim to be Christian, the expectation from what Jesus said is that both would be better than the worst of the worst.  The expectation would be that these two people would actually try to do what most politicians claim they’ll do, but I suspect very few actually even plan on trying.  Namely – they would do good for the people who voted for them, as well as the people who voted against them.

Is that not a reasonable expectation from what Jesus said?

Lk 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.

But – is that what happened?

How is anyone well served by this kind of thing going on between these two people?  Or anyone in elected office, for that matter.  This just happens to be the latest headline.  And has been for a few months now.

Should our leaders respond to hate with more hate?

Let’s make the title question more specific.  Should our leaders respond to hate with more hate?  Especially when those leaders claim to be Christian?

There’s passage in the last chapter of Hebrews where the author writes about leaders.  Let’s take a look into it.

First passage on leaders from Hebrews

Heb 13:7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

There are three points we need to examine:

  1. remember your leaders (who spoke the word of God to you)
  2. consider the outcome of their way of life
  3. imitate their faith
remember your leaders

The leaders in question here are Donald Trump and Maxine Waters.  Have they spoken the word of God to us?  Honestly, I don’t know if they’ve literally spoken the word of God.  However, they do claim to be Christian.  As such, they should be aware of something Jesus told His followers – today’s Christians:

Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Therefore, whether or not actual words were said regarding God, their very lives are examples of how they feel about God. Since both claim to be Christian and both are in Public Service, both should be very much aware of the responsibility they carry related to their public lives.  And yet, look what we have.

consider the outcome of their way of life

We’ve seen the outcome of one part of their lives.  At least towards each other, they do not respond to hate with love.  The do respond to hate with more hate.  As we’ve also seen, this is in stark contrast to the way a Christian leader should behave.  That’s not just me saying it.  That’s from the very words spoken by Jesus.

imitate their faith

Imitate their faith sounds like we should behave like them.  But that’s not really the case.  We can’t take the phrase out of context.  Put all together, it means remember what these two are like – consider their lives – and then decide whether or not to imitate or not.  That view is also held by Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.  The context is different, in that this book was written to Jews in the early years of the church.  But the concepts hold true for any Christian when we view our leaders.

13:7) The writer is still mindful of the danger which many of the Jewish recipients of this book were in, namely, that of renouncing their professed faith in Messiah, and of returning to the abrogated sacrifices of Judaism. He exhorts them to remember those which have the rule over them. The word “remember” is mnemoneuo (μνεμονευο), “to be mindful of.” Here it means “to think of and feel for a person.” The exhortation is, “Remember, with a view to observing the admonitions of those who have the rule over you.” The word “follow” is the translation of mimnisko (μιμνισκο) “to imitate.” The word “considering” is anatheoreo (ἀναθεορεο) “to observe attentively.” The words “end of their conversation” are more clearly, “the outcome or issue of their manner of life.” The exhortation is to remember their deceased leaders, persons of such a nature that they spoke the Word of God to them (2:3, 4:2). Some of these had probably gone to heaven by way of martyrdom. They are urged to imitate their faith while they at the same time observe attentively the kind of lives they lived and the outcome and issue of their lives. They were to imitate their lives where the latter tallied with what they preached. Thus, they would be guarded against forsaking Messiah and going back to the temple sacrifices.  2)Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 10, p. 235). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

The important part for us today is: They are urged to imitate their faith while they at the same time observe attentively the kind of lives they lived and the outcome and issue of their lives. They were to imitate their lives where the latter tallied with what they preached.

In this particular case, no matter what the professed Christian denomination of either Trump or Waters may be, they are not living out what they claim to believe.  Therefore, we are not to imitate them.  Rather, we should do what Jesus taught: respond to hate with love.

Conclusion – Should we respond to hate with more hate?

You may have noticed that there’s a phrase from the Luke quote above that I haven’t written about yet.  It this one:

pray for those who mistreat you

As a reminder, the whole passage was:

Lk 6:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Yes, pray for those who mistreat you was left out from when I was talking about our two political figures.

But you know what?  This passage – this entire article – also applies to those of us who don’t like the way our leaders behave.  We shouldn’t hate them, any more than they should hate each other.  I’m pretty sure they’re not praying for each other.  But we should pray for them.

Why should we pray for Donald Trump and Maxine Waters?  Because, as we’ve seen, they are mistreating us.  Whether we voted for them or not, since they are professed Christians holding a public office as a result of an election, they are mistreating us.  Yes, as a result of their actions and also the resulting  failure to act on other important things, they are mistreating us.  And Jesus told us, pray for those who mistreat you.  

Don’t respond to hate with more hate.

Do respond to hate with love.  In fact, with more love than the hate that was shown.

Do pray for those who mistreat you – even, or especially, for our leaders who mistreat us.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
2. Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 10, p. 235). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

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