There is a certain “church,” whose name, infamous tagline, website, and pastor I won’t mention here so as not to give them undue publicity, that has made a name for itself spouting hate. Note that they hate anyone or anything, mind you, but that they know the mind of God so well as to know who and what God “hates.” I’ve cropped this image to eliminate the face of what looks like an 11 year-old girl (whose parents should be arrested for child abuse, imo) who is holding this sign, to give you the gist of their “gospel” message.
Don’t worry, there’s no way this sign is accurate.
While few religious organizations take the message of judgment quite as far as this “find group of Christians,” there seems to be prevailing cultural ethos that, at the very least, says that it is OK for us to hate things because God hates some things. The response to this is the oft quoted line from Anne Lamott, “You can safely assumed you’ve made God in your own image when he hates all the same people you do.”
There are instances in Scripture when it is said that God hates something or someone. The obvious examples are: Psalm 5.5, “Therefore, the proud will not be allowed to stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil.” Proverbs 6.16-19, “There are six things the LORD hates– no, seven things he detests: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, 18 a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, 19 a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers.” And, Hosea 9.15, “The LORD says, “All their wickedness began at Gilgal; there I began to hate them. I will drive them from my land because of their evil actions. I will love them no more because all their leaders are rebels.” This are, without a doubt, difficult passages to read. These are also lifted completely out of context, both within their original texts and from the larger story of salvation history that runs from Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” to Revelation 22:21, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.”
There are plenty of counter-examples of God’s profound and deep love. These include: David’s word of thanksgiving in Psalm 5.7, “Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; with deepest awe I will worship at your Temple.” God’s promise of restoration in Hosea 11.8, “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah and Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.” Not to mention such gems as John 3.16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” And 1 john 4.8, “God is love.” Sadly, there is little redemption in and for Proverbs.
Tomorrow, in parishes all throughout the globe, priests and lay readers will stand resolute before members of their congregations and pray these words, “Almighty God, you hate nothing you have made…” It might be the most counter-culture message that The Episcopal Church as to offer these days, and it is not a modern rewrite to suit an “I’m OK, You’re OK” worldview. These words have been spoken on Ash Wednesday at least since the First Prayer Book was published in 1549. So, as we approach Ash Wednesday and its dual reminder of our mortality and our need for repentance, rember these three things.
- God hates nothing he has made. (BCP, pg. 264)
- In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth (Gen 1.1)
- The grace of the Lord Jesus is Christ is with us all (Rev 22.21, paraphrased)