Oh How I Love To Hate
As you know all too well, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh religiously, but not so much anymore. Not that I no longer like him, it’s just that I began to notice the effect his show was having on me. He had the ability to stir up in me the base emotion of hatred, and that’s what drew me to him for so many years. Moreover, not only was he able to draw it out of me, I’m ashamed to say that I loved it when he did. As it turns out, those base and unsightly emotions come easier to us than better things like self-restraint and refinement.
It was a revelation to me actually, that I, by my nature, loved to hate. I was actually drawn to it like a moth to a flame. It was almost as if I loved, in a sordid kind of way, for people to make horrible decisions and say outrageous things so that I might bask in my hatred of them. “Look at what they’re doing now,” I might think with disgust. “Just look at ’em!”
Facebook, I have discovered, is similar. As I scroll through my feed I see teasers like: “You won’t believe what so and so just said,” or, “Look at what this person plans to do with your children,” and such things as that. It’s called click bait. It assumes that I’m ready to be outraged and so they write provocative teasers hoping I’ll click on their site and provide it with traffic numbers. Those numbers, you see, are what determine how much they can receive in advertising revenue. Not that I think that those who run good sites should do it for free, but this is not about good sites versus bad sites. It’s about my heart as well as you and your heart. I still have a great fondness for Rush Limbaugh—though I like his guest host, Mark Steyn, better—and I hope he’s on the air for a long time to come. But I try to be mindful of my heart and motivations before listening or clicking, which, as it turns out, I hardly do anymore.
*Just so you know, my problem has nothing to do with conservatism itself, or its merits or failures. Rather, my problem is with the heart, and the way it taints Man no matter what “cause” he has signed onto. And, I’m well aware that there are some who would relish in my admission that I am capable of hate. They might say, “See? I told you that those conservatives are haters, now this one admits it.” They would have missed my point, of course. There are lots of conflicting ideologies that are buoyed by hatred. Your fellow man is liable to hate different people for all kinds of reasons. We have large corporations, politicians of every ilk, genetic modifiers of food, So-called climate-change deniers, to name just a few off the top of my head, that the zeitgeist has determined is worthy of everyone’s hatred. If we didn’t understand the need to guard our hearts, I think it’s possible that any of us could find ourselves in a cause that might give us reason to hate those who resist it.
There are those, on the other hand, who don’t seem capable of hating anyone ever. That’s who I want to be like. Your mother is like that. It doesn’t even seem possible that she could be drawn into a hate binge. I’ve met others who were the same way, as far as I could tell, and I was perhaps more than once inclined to hate them for their lack of hatred… except for your mother. I love your mother.
The book of Hebrews tells us that each of us has our own particular sins that beset us, and against which we ought to strive to keep from becoming entangled. For me, the love of hatred is a sin that easily entangles. I’m glad God revealed that to me. I now pray that He will deliver me, and I am encouraged that He is.
Now, please don’t think that I’m saying that we ought not strongly disagree with and oppose lies and harmful worldviews. We should. Perhaps we even ought to be upset when they prevail. But there’s a difference between opposing evil and basking in hatred. Love should reign in our hearts, and by love, I don’t mean we should accept and approve of everything that popular culture tells us is good and righteous. That would be love, yes, but it’s love of self—as in, “I love myself way too much to subject myself to the disdain of popular culture.” True love, however, is much more involved. A father who loves his toddler will not approve of him playing in the busy street, for example …, even if the child wants to real bad, and even if the child hates the father in the moment for making him stop. Real love also doesn’t forbid us from destroying arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, for the same reasons. In a more eternal sense, love would never downplay or otherwise attempt to hide the more unsavory points of the Gospel, like the fact that Man, by his very nature, is sinful and in dire need of some good news.
A phone company salesman called me once, not long after your mother and I were married. The young man was trying to persuade me to do business with his company. It just so happened that this company was one who had thrown itself headlong into supporting things that ought not to be supported. Here was my chance I thought. So I let that guy know just how bad his company was and how I would NEVER do business with it. His reply was unsettling. He simply said, “Well thank you for your time sir, and God bless you,” then he hung up. He might have actually meant it, or he might have, in a roundabout way, been calling me a hypocrite. One thing was for sure, if his main goal had been to get under my skin, he had certainly succeeded. But I think it was God who was getting under my skin really. That moment changed me, though not enough. And please, dear children, unless you really mean it, don’t tell people, “God bless you,” especially when you really wish they were dead.
*As you know, there are still companies that I won’t do business with for the same sort of reasons. And I wish that other people would follow suit, but I’m ok with them if they don’t. But you’re not as likely to see me in a rage over it. That’s because I don’t hate the people in those companies, but I do hate what most large corporations promote. I work for a company that promotes the same sort of nonsense. Should I hate myself? None of them are doing anything that should surprise anyone, especially the Christian who understands Man’s carnal nature apart from his Maker.
There is one group of people, however, who is still able to make me quite angry, though I can honestly say that I don’t love to hate them. It’s those who call themselves Christians who have replaced the scriptures with whatever cultural opinions are popular today, who have rejected the Bible, its message, and the Gospel, and who are attacking the Church of God from within with great zeal. These make me very angry.
I did learn that I had a problem, and God, I believe, helped me to merge onto a different avenue. You too will find yourselves on side roads, rabbit trails, and even in an occasional wreck. But it is my prayer for you that you will always find your way back to the narrow path, on the road to, as John Bunyan put it, the Celestial City. Guard your hearts, as you resist evil. Weigh your motivations. Beware of becoming myopic in your involvement in causes. Tether yourself with a short line to the Gospel. Never get too far from it, and its wonderful message.