God's Emotion Towards Sinners: Love, or Hate?

Posted by Capn Coconuts On Friday, February 3, 2012 0 comments
Due to the nature of this topic, I highly recommend that you read the entire blog post. You are unlikely to understand the correct answer to the title question if you do not read the entirety of its content.

I trust that many of you know that Westboro Baptist Church believes that God hates almost everybody and especially hates homosexuals. Meanwhile, many Christians would say that God hates the sin but not the sinner.

The definition of hate, according to The Free Dictionary, is as follows:

v. hat·ed, hat·ing, hates
1a. To feel hostility or animosity toward.
b. To detest.
2. To feel dislike or distaste for: hates washing dishes.

To feel hatred.

1. Intense animosity or dislike; hatred.
2. An object of detestation or hatred: My pet hate is tardiness.
In simple terms as far as the transitive verb usage goes, hate is either an expression of hostility or strong dislike of someone or something. For example, there's a difference between planning an assassination attempt on Barack Obama and believing that he's a terrible president. The first form of hate is a danger to society, but the second one is civil, albeit strong and passionate.

Hate's synonyms tend to lean towards its second definition. Detest means "to dislike intensely; abhor", abhor means "to regard with horror or loathing; detest", and loathe means "to dislike (someone or something) intensely; abhor". "Abomination", which has its own lesser-used verb form "abominate", means "something that is a cause of abhorrence or disgust". None of these words imply ill will towards the object that is being hated.

On the flipside, we have love, which has even more different meanings. The classical Greeks, in fact, had a few words for the one word we use in English. I don't remember seeing all of them in the Greek New Testament, but here are they are:

STORGE: This is fondness through familiarity. Family members display this kind of love.
PHILEO: This is a strong bond shared between friends, generally sharing common interests or activities. However, this word has been perverted in the English language; now it serves as a suffix to sexual fetishes and  deviance (e.g. pedophilia). This word is somewhat common in the New Testament.
EROS: This is a more romantic kind of love. As the word suggests, this can be
AGAPE: Sometimes translated "Charity" to connotate giving to those in need, this is love given regardless of circumstance, and is self-sacrificial in nature. The apostle Paul defines this as follows:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
--1 Corinthians 13:4-7
By Paul's definition, we see that agape is completely unconditional and self-sacrificial.

Now that you know the definitions of both, you are ready for my answer to the title question.

Many Christians believe that God loves all of mankind and hates their sins, not the sinner.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
--John 3:16
Westboro Baptist Church believes about as opposite as you can get: that God hates all of mankind except those that are saved and has no pity for them.
The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
--Psalms 5:5
Given these two verses, you could make at least three different rationalizations:
  • WBC is right; God hates almost everyone! (Christ's atonement is limited)
  • It's just David's words; God doesn't actually hate people. (God's word wasn't written by verbal, plenary inspiration)
  • The Bible is a book of fairy tales, taken seriously only by obtuse crackpots. (Okay, maybe not THAT strong of an opinion...)
It would seem that a case for God loving all of mankind cannot be airtight. So then, I must ask: has anyone heard of something called a love-hate relationship?

Image made by Teigiser on DeviantART

According to Wikipedia,
A love–hate relationship is an interpersonal relationship involving simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and hate. This relationship does not have to be of a romantic nature, and may be instead of a sibling one. It may occur when people have completely lost the intimacy within a loving relationship, yet still retain some passion for, or perhaps some commitment to, each other.
The correct answer to the title question is "That question is loaded and forces a false dichotomy! God has a love-hate relationship with sinners!"

Perhaps, in saying that God's great disgust is directed at only the sins, Christians have unwittingly understated the corruption sin causes. Sin skews human reason and weakens any willpower that could resist it. Sin stains and taints the soul to the point where abhorrence at sin and abhorrence at the sinner are one and the same. Pigs that wallow in filth are disgusting because the filth makes the pigs disgusting. Sinners are disgusted in the eyes of God because sin makes them disgusting.

It is no marvel why David wrote "the foolish shall not stand in thy SIGHT." God can't even look on it. The prophet Habakkuk, when confused about the coming Babylonian captivity, said to God that he knew He couldn't look on iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13). However, there's more to God than Him being disgusted by sinners.

The quote from Wikipedia says that love-hate relationships may occur when people have completely lost intimacy within a relationship. Sin, before a holy and perfect God, separates man and God. The intimacy is lost. And yet, unconditional love endures all things.

In Genesis 3, the sin that cursed the whole world is documented. Eve was deceived by a talking serpent (Satan is called "that old serpent" in the book of Revelation, so it was Satan in the form of a serpent) to do the one thing God said not to do, and Adam didn't even need to be deceived to follow the path of darkness Eve had already started walking on. They died virtually that same day, having lost the intimacy with an all-holy and perfect God.

God's crown of creation had become sinners, but they were still His creation. The intimacy was lost, but the commitment was still there. God was still committed to His creation, and acted to restore that intimacy that was lost between Him and man.

He could only do it by offering someone as holy as Himself to pay man's price. Sacrifice of innocent animals served only to cover sins for a year and to remind the Israelites how terrible their sin was. Sin needed a permanent solution. Once for all. And only one Person could do it.

That Person is Jesus Christ.

The four words "for God so loved"  in John 3:16 are much deeper than you can possibly imagine. The word "agape" is used in this verse. But it is modified by the word "so". Why?

Because God's love supersedes his aversion to the sheer horrendous stain of sin. God's hate does not cause contradiction with statements of His love; it lets us realize that God's love is greater. God was disgusted at sinners, but he loved them so much that God the Father went so far as to let God the Son suffer on the cross at the hands of wicked men, that he might redeem them from the price of sin!


Not only did the Father send Jesus Christ to die for our sins, but He came of His own will--Jesus allowed Himself to be executed by the most terrible method ever known to mankind. And not only that--He took upon Himself, the all-holy God, the sins of the whole world!
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
--2 Corinthians 5:21
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (See Isaiah 53:5)
--1 Peter 2:24
He loved us so much that He bore the very thing that he hated, for people who disgusted him because they were plagued by the very thing he hated.

He did this to remove what he hated about us. When a person repents of his sins and puts his faith on Jesus Christ, the man who died to save our souls and rose again to prove He had power over death, the intimacy is restored. The hate-love relationship becomes a love-love relationship, because the holy demand of God is satisfied.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
--Isaiah 53:10-11

Note that, for this entire post so far, I have only used the "dislike" definition of hatred. As I have shown, it allows for loving the same object at the same time in a love-hate relationship.

However, Westboro Baptist Church seems to believe in the first definition--that God is actually hostile and has animosity towards almost everyone. Unfortunately, this post has gotten too long. In a later blog post, I will evaluate the hostile God idea that spawned from the similarly hostile old man's mind.


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