By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Most dictionaries define the verb “hate” as to “feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone).”
“Hate,” when used as a noun means “intense or passionate dislike.”
How we use the word “hate” is important. In and of itself, “hate” is not a bad word. There are some things we need to “hate” — violence, poverty, abortion, liver and onions, Clemson, etc. But there are some people who use the word to stir up bitterness and anger. That needs to stop. The word “hate” is polarizing our nation as never before, especially when it is used to describe Christians.
The Tennessee Equality Project, according to The Tennessean in Nashville, is an organization that advocates for the rights of LGBT people in Tennessee. Currently, there are six bills under consideration by Tennessee legislators that this group has dubbed “the slate of hate.”
Those six bills, as reported March 18 by The Tennessean, are:
- SB848/HB1152 would allow adoption agencies to deny services to couples for religious reasons. The sponsors are Sen. Joey Hensley and Rep. John Ragan.
- SB1304/HB836 is similar legislation. It is sponsored by Sen. Mark Pody and Rep. Tim Rudd.
- SB364/HB563 is related to government contracts and would protect businesses from being penalized by the government for their internal policies such as health insurance and anti-discrimination policies. It is sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire and Rep. Jason Zachary.
- SB1297/HB1151 seeks to enhance punishment for any person who commits indecent exposure in bathrooms, dressing rooms, etc. It would include offenses committed by offenders who are members of the opposite sex than the sex designated by the bathroom’s use. It is sponsored by Pody and Ragan.
- SB1499/HB1274 would direct the state attorney general to defend any schools sued for having a policy that requires students to use the restroom corresponding with their sex at birth. It is sponsored by Hensley and Rep. Andy Holt.
- SB1282/HB1369 would make it the state’s policy to defend marriage as being between one man and one woman despite any court decision that says otherwise. It is sponsored by Pody and Rep. Jerry Sexton.
Most Christians would say they support these bills. Most of the bills are more common sense than anything else. But for those who want a “anything goes” policy in our state and world, anyone, especially Christians, who supports those bills is guilty of “hate.”
Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told The Tennessean that all six of those bills “strike at the dignity of LGBT people” in Tennessee and that they “attack our marriages, ability to form families, exist in public places, and … even undermine our ability to advocate with our own city governments for protection against discrimination.”
Hear me closely. I don’t “hate” people who are either in or support the gay/homosexual/transgender lifestyle. I disagree with their position because it is in direct opposition to God’s Holy Word.
Leviticus 18:22 says it as plainly as possible: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it’s an abomination (NKJV).” The Holman Christian Standard Bible describes it this way: “You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.”
What truly saddens me is that at least 100 people who identify as “clergy” have taken a stand against this slate of legislation. Their idea and interpretation of God’s Word is nowhere near mine. They have their views and they have taken a stand in opposition to those bills. That’s okay for them to do so. They have every right to their opinions.
But it is also okay for me and other Bible-believing Christians to take a stand in support of those proposed laws if we choose to do so. We have a right to our opinions as well.
But, those who disagree with us should not throw around the word “hate” so loosely. The use of that word incites and inflames people. I reiterate that I don’t hate homosexuals or transgenders. I disagree with their lifestyle, but God did not make me judge and jury. He will deal with all of us at the appropriate time.
We must keep in mind, however, that “hate” is not an evil word when used in the right context. How should we use the word “hate?” I think we should use it as God uses it — to hate sin.
The late Southern Baptist evangelist Billy Graham once wrote, “We in the church have failed to remind this generation that while God is love, He also has the capacity to hate. He hates sin, and He will judge it with the fierceness of His wrath. This generation is schooled in the teaching about an indulgent, soft-hearted God whose judgments are uncertain and who coddles those who break His commandments. This generation finds it difficult to believe that God hates sin.
“I tell you that God hates sin just as a father hates a rattlesnake that threatens the safety and life of his child. God loathes evil and diabolic forces that would pull people down to a godless eternity just as a mother hates a venomous spider that is found playing on the soft, warm flesh of her little baby.
“It is His love for man, His compassion for the human race, that prompts God to hate sin with such a vengeance. He gave Heaven’s finest that we might have the best; and He loathes with a holy abhorrence anything that would hinder our being reconciled to Him” (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association).
There is a fine line in “hating the sin” while “loving the sinner,” but it is a line that Christians must balance. The world is watching.