God's Politics

Several readers responded strongly to the title of Jim’s post a while back: God Hates Inequality (also featured in SojoMail). Here’s a representative example:

I was very disappointed to read an email from Sojourners that began with the phrase “God Hates.” Yes, I believe that God is greatly disappointed in the manner in which humans treat one another. However, plainly and simply, God is a God of love – not hate. While I understand the message you were trying to convey, I think the “God Hates” phrase was an extremely poor choice and sends a message that it’s okay to begin stating: “God hates this” and “God hates that”.

A quick Bible search reveals several passages in the Hebrew scriptures that describe God hating this or that.

The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates the lover of violence. (Psalm 11:5)

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 hurry to run to evil, a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family. (Proverbs 6:15-19)

Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:14-15)

Of course, as Chief Wiggum of The Simpsons once said, “the Bible says a lot of things,” and the fact that in these passages God hates things that good progressives disapprove of as well (I can’t stand new moons or appointed festivals either!) does not resolve the thorny theological issue pinpointed by another reader:

The Old Testament is filled with incredible hatred and unspeakable vengeance and cruelty. I thought Christ tried to put an end to that. I don’t understand how the word “hate” can be attributed to God. Not if God is love.

As Stephen Colbert might say: “God hates or God loves? Pick a side – we’re at war.” Or is such black-and-white, either/or thinking offensive to the nuanced and paradox-embracing mind of the progressive intellectual Christian? Discuss.

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