This post last updated on November 11th, 2021
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, I’ve seen so many of my Christian friends begin to wrestle with the evil of terrorism in the light of responding lovingly and prayerfully, without hate or anger.
Is it wrong to hate evil? Hating evil is not racist and it is not intolerant, but how do we reconcile the words of Christ to “love your enemies” with evil acts of terrorism?
Does God Hate and Is It Wrong to Hate Evil?
Many have asked, “If God is love, does he hate anything?” The answer to that is a solid and resounding yes. Allow me to explain.
You have loved ones… parents, children, siblings or a spouse that you would smash the head of a poisonous scorpion without giving it a single thought if it were threatening one of them. God feels that same way towards evil, including acts of evil by His own creation.
We find the Hebrew verb sane (pronounced saw-nay’) twice in Proverbs 8:13, which does in fact mean to hate, to be hateful: “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
We find this word again in Psalm 97:10 which begins with “O you who love the Lord, hate evil!”
Maybe even more profoundly for today, we find this same verb in Proverbs 6:16-19:
“There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.”
Loving Your Enemies
In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus instructs us to “Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” Anyone who has ever raised a child, discipled a brother or sister in Christ, or led any kind of team can tell you that if you love someone, you hold them accountable. What kind of love is it to allow someone you love to walk into destruction?
It should apply then, that if you love your enemies, you hold them accountable. In times like this, it comes with extreme difficulty to love and pray for those responsible for the death and destruction in Paris. And in Iraq, Brussels, Syria, Israel, in Florida, San Bernardino, against Russian vacationers in Egypt, and countless other places where human life has been taken at the hands of terrorists.
We are to continue to pray for them anyhow. We need to pray for their salvation. We need to pray for protection for all of those they oppose. We need to pray for our military and national leaders to respond accordingly, and we must pray for them to be stopped, which sometimes takes a sword.
A Time for Peace, A Time for War
There are other examples in Scripture which are easily drowned out by the calls for passivity in times like this. Solomon, in all of his wisdom calls for “a time to kill, a time to heal,” as well as “a time to love, a time to hate, a time for peace, a time for war.”
While actually quite fatalistic in his thinking, Solomon does at least call to our attention that there is in fact, a season for all things. What we cannot do in response to events like Paris is to throw our hands up in Solomon’s fatalistic approach and “let be what will be.” We must respond as the Master would, which is in prayer, in love, and in accountability.
We must also call on and allow our military and world leaders to do as they are in their positions to do, which is to protect the innocent by stopping the evil. And sometimes that means putting away the sword of ceremony and instituting a call to arms.
By no means am I suggesting the problem of terrorism is one solved strictly by armies and battles and wars. The problem of terrorism is first and foremost a spiritual war. Don’t you think, though, that spiritual depravity could have physical effects? Would it be accurate to think also that sometimes the spiritual battles spill over into the physical realm?