Est. May 2008

10 February, 2013

Defining ‘Hate’

Last week a high-profile American writer and news personality asked me a painful question: “Hey pastor, can a Christian tweet hate?”
That’s how John S. Dickerson begins his article over at CNN’s Belief Blog; then he spends the entire nearly-two-printed-page article not defining what either he or his ‘high-profile American writer and news personality’ friend meant by the word ‘hate.’  Oh, he certainly hints at the ‘hate-speech’ allegedly tweeted by Christians, but never bothers to give us an example, simply calling himself ‘embarrassed to be associated with some of the people who claim his name’ – ‘him’ being Christ.

You might think I’m being overly picky on this, but considering what’s been labeled ‘Christian hate-speech’ – in the media, by personalities and celebrities, and by politicians and certain members of the clergy – it’s not a picky little detail at all.

Certainly, there are people who call themselves Christians who do engage in what could honestly be called ‘hate-speech’ – the Westboro Baptists immediately come to mind, don’t they?  And certainly there are other self-professing Christians who do violence to their profession by engaging in so-called ‘hate-speech’.  But unless you’re willing to give examples of just what kind of speech you’re labeling ‘hate’, your argument is, at least in my opinion, weak.

Are these alleged ‘hate-speech’ tweets condemnations of sin, such as homosexuality (the big one right now)?  Are they condemnations of the mis-use of Scripture?  Are they warnings that unless one turns from their wicked ways they risk the fires of an eternal hell?  Certainly, every one of those examples could be called ‘hate-speech’ – in fact, they have been called ‘hate-speech’.  But as I’ve pointed out before, that’s not ‘hate-speech’, it’s actually ‘love-speech’.

It’s ‘love-speech’ because it indicates that there are people out there who are worried about the eternal souls of others; it’s ‘love-speech’ because those who preach it are trying to ‘save others, snatching them out of the fire’ (Jude 23a); it’s ‘love-speech’ because those who preach it don’t want to see anyone burn for eternity.

But based on Pastor Dickerson’s article, we’ll never really know whether the tweeted words truly are ‘hate-speech’, or whether they’re ‘love-speech’, or whether it’s a mix of both.

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