Precisely Hatred

One of the most important lessons for a student of scripture to understand is the importance of precision in interpretation. Especially when all of your scriptures--as is the case for Latter-day Saints--are products of translation, oftentimes looking up the words in the dictionary is not enough to truly understand the meaning of what we are taught from them.

One such word, which occurs with particular frequency in the Old Testament, is "hate."

There are times in the scriptures where hatred is expressed as we understand it; a passionate loathing or despising that is nothing short of a human frailty. Many times, this is exactly what the words mean in stories such as Amnon and Tamar in 2 Samuel 13.

However, when "hate" is used to describe God's regard, or in commandments in relation to our responsibility as His Saints, only the Holy Ghost can reveal its true meaning.

God does not give Himself over to the irrational, passionate, seething hatred of men. Those are not His ways. I direct you to Leviticus 19:

17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.
18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

We are not allowed, commanded, or encouraged by our God or our prophets to hate anyone in our hearts. To do so is a direct violation of the teachings and examples of Jesus Christ when He taught that instead of loving our neighbors and hating our enemies, He would have us:

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5: 43-45)

So what, then, is the hatred of God? I direct you back to the verses from Leviticus given above. God's hatred is a rejection, an eventual disassociation, a separation from His presence. It is an action, one that does not require a feeling of hatred--nor could God give Himself over to such a base feeling and still be God. It is NOT a total severing, for such does not take place until no more labor can be performed. For God to "hate" is purely administrative--but that is not to say that God does so without feeling. Quite to the contrary. Looking upon the record of Enoch in the the Book of Moses reveals that when God must cast off His wicked, idolatrous, disobedient children, the feeling of His heart is perfect sorrow.

At times, we may be invited through our experiences in life to share in that sorrow for those who disobey. But it is not our place to allow that feeling to be adulterated and perverted with anger and scorn--a refusal to love them. To do so is not Christian, and the Holy Ghost will not honor or abide with anyone who gives themselves to such unbecoming, unauthorized conduct.

We have to realize that when we say that Heavenly Father loves ALL of His children, that Christ's help is for everyone, it is not our place to add a self-righteous "except for this person," to the end of either of those statements. It is not our place to make allowances for ourselves to "love the sinner, but hate their sins." Many times when we say this, we condemn for sins which we do not know of with any certainty--and when we do, we sometimes use it as a license to continue in our negativity towards those "sinners" in our lives. It is never our place to punish those who have sinned with feelings of hatred or vengeance, and God rejects anyone who stands between Him and His children is such a brazen display of Satanic behavior.

We have every right to reject sin through our teachings and our testimonies, and to do so publicly--to warn our neighbors, just as we are instructed in Leviticus. But such "rebuke" needs to be solely comprised of teaching proper principle and truth with love, respect, and fondness born of trust. It needs to be given from a people who are quicker to reject their own sin and confess their own faults than to point out the faults of others. We will find that as we do this, to use harshness and anger is entirely unnecessary. That is the miracle of Christ's example. Teaching through love and respect is much more effective than to give into a spirit of meanness unbecoming of Heavenly Father's children.

Looking upon God's hatred as rejection finds consistent parallels in the temple imagery of Jude 1: 23 and Hebrews 1: 9. That imagery, also found in D&C 36: 6, teaches that those who are ordained to preach the gospel have the responsibility to say to all men:
Save yourselves from this untoward generation, and come forth out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with the flesh.
But make no mistake: we are not being sent forth unto the world with a message to sow heated contention with those who would oppose us. Our message is one of love, from a Father who desires not only to love, but to bless all of His children. Because God cannot bless the unrighteous and still be God, our message is one of baptism, of renewal, rebirth, and resurrection. Ours is the message of Jesus Christ. That message can never be anything other than love. It may at times be sharp, or loud, or perhaps even severe. But a message of hatred from the heart is not God's message.

If our messages, public or private, written or spoken, to friend or to stranger, of the mind or of the heart, ever descend into feelings of loathing and hatred, we must understand that the best thing for us to do is to be silent. In choosing to be silent, we make the conscious decision not to give our discourse, our efforts, and ourselves over to the adversary. We must check ourselves against what God "hates"--see Proverbs 6: 16-19--and repent of all those things of which we might stand guilty. To do so is to regain the Spirit and to become wiser for the experience and to truly learn from our mistakes.

I testify that Heavenly Father is a perfect, loving God. I testify that Jesus Christ is His perfect, loving Son. I know that the Holy Ghost bears the perfect testimony, and that as we listen to Him we can learn to teach powerfully without a need for the coarse barbarism of the devil. I testify that to do so is our responsibility as Latter-day Saints. I know bearing true testimony of Jesus Christ provides security from sin which comes from actively opposing all which is evil, and that as we do so we will see the Church press forward towards both its destiny and destination. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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