“Does Hate Have a Home in Heaven?” March 26, 2017
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Most of us have seen the red and blue signs popping up in our neighborhood that proclaim “Hate has no home here.” If you missed these signs, surely you have heard a lot of talk and protests against the perceived hatred of the current administration.
So let me ask you: “What was your response to these signs, and these protests?” Shouldn’t we as followers of Jesus Christ agree that hate has no home in our hearts or our churches? After all, Jesus told us to love our enemy, and we all know that hatred can be such a destructive emotion.
But not so fast. What does God’s Word tell us about hate? Is there ever a place or a time for hate, if it is directed at the proper object? For example, shouldn’t we hate murder and rape and child abuse? Doesn’t God say in His Word that there are seven things that He Himself hates? (Prov. 6:16-19) So… is there a home for any kind of hate, for the right reasons, in heaven?
Obviously no one wants to be known for their hate; just think about the Westboro Baptist Church and the late Rev. Fred Phelps, with their hate campaign against just about everyone!
But what we need is a biblical understanding of love and hate, before we put up a no hate sign, or renounce all types of hate. We need to see both love and hate from God’s point of view, and to think His thoughts after Him, for His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-11).
It might surprise you to know that the words hate and hatred are found in our English translations of the Bible between 150- 180 times, depending on your version, and the Hebrew and Greek roots words behind these words are found well over 200 times, sometimes translated as enemies, foes, hostility or to abhor or to detest. So God has a lot to tell us about hate.
I want to set before three Biblical truths about hate and love, and then apply the gospel to this.
The First Biblical Truth: Hatred can be Wrong or Right, Depending upon the Reason.
Psalm 35:19 “let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.”
Psalm 69:4 “Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me.” (Jesus quotes Ps. 69:4 in John 15:25.)
Scripture tells us that on the one hand there is a wrong kind of hatred, when you hate someone without cause or reason, but on the other hand, there is a right kind of hatred, when you hate someone or something justly, with cause, for the right reason.
Let’s consider examples of both types of hatred.
First, hatred that is wrong:
In Gen. 37, Joseph’s brothers were wrong for hating Joseph, because they did so out of jealousy. They had no good reason for hating their brother.
In 1 Samuel 18, King Saul was wrong for hating David, because he was jealous of David’s success and popularity.
The Bible is clear: Unwarranted hatred toward someone is wrong.
Here we can have common ground with those who put up “no hate” signs. We affirm that it is wrong to hate anyone out of prejudice, jealousy, or fear, and we should speak up against such hate, and show God’s love to such people
But there is also a legitimate kind of hatred, a hatred that is necessary if we are going to protect what is good and right. Let’s consider a hatred that is right:
In Psalm 139:21-22, David speaks to the Lord, and says, “Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.”
Notice the two things David said here. (1) There are people who hate the Lord, who rise up against Him. These are God’s enemies, and rebels against Him. (2) Because those people hate the Lord, David is taking the side of the Lord, and declares his hatred for those who are God’s enemies. It is David’s zeal for God’s glory and honor that moves him to properly hate those who hate his sovereign king and gracious Lord! This is a situation where it is right to hate.
I think everyone can understand such a proper hatred towards people such as Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin, or to the leaders of ISIS and Boko Haram. Leaving aside the matter of loving our enemies and forgiving them (we’ll deal with that later on), we know in our hearts that truly evil and bloodthirsty men must be hated and severely dealt with, for the protection of society.
Therefore to proclaim that “hate has no home here” at least needs some clarification, for not all hatred is wrong or intolerant. The sign makes too sweeping a statement, as an over-reaction. Let us be careful not to make an idol or an absolute of either hating hatred or of loving love, or both will become shallow and self-centered.
Instead, we can say that there is a better Biblical Principle:
Hate what is evil and love what is good
Amos 5:15 “Hate evil, love good; maintain (or establish) justice in the court…”
Romans 12:9 “Let love be genuine. Hate (abhor) what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
The Second Biblical Truth: Because the Lord is Holy, He Passionately Hates Evil.
What drives God’s hatred is not spite or jealousy or character defect, but rather it is that the Lord our God is morally perfect and pure in all His ways. Therefore, God has a just and perfect abhorrence of evil, of sin and of sinners. His hatred of those deserving of hatred is 100% pure; it is untainted by any sin or evil in Him. (That contrasts with us, as even our best zeal against injustice and evil is polluted with mixed motives.) In fact, it is only because the Lord is pure love and pure holiness that he is able to hate in a perfect way.
“No one who is not perfect in love can hate without sin.” Or to put it more positively, only the One who is perfect in love can hate without sinning.
So, what does God hate?
Deut. 12:31 “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way (the way of the pagans), because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates.”
So the Lord hates detestable worship practices. (That has implications for certain ecumenical worship services.) But He does He also hate detestable people?
Psalm 5:5-6 “The arrogant shall not stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong (evildoers). You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors.”
So the Lord not only detests evil deeds; He also hates all the evildoers; He abhors them.
Psalm 11:5 “His soul hates the wicked and those who love violence.”
We’ve been told that the Lord hates the sin but loved the sinner… yet these verses tell us that the Lord hates the sinner as well as the sin. Now I realize that this may be upsetting your applecart, and you may be thinking about John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” That’s true… but let’s understand both God’s hate and His love.
Proverbs 6:16-19 16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
Here we see that the Lord hates sinful attitudes, wicked thoughts, evil speech, ungodly actions, and corrupt influences. Because the Lord is holy and morally pure, all such things are an abomination to Him. It is His perfect character that requires His hatred of such evil.
Now you might be thinking: “What about the New Testament? Don’t we see a God of love, and not of hate, there? Okay, let’s look at some passages in the New Testament.
In John 2:13-17, we read about Jesus making a whip out of cords, with his own hands, and driving the moneychangers out of the temple courts? We read that Jesus quoted Ps. 69:9 “Zeal for your house will consume me.” You see, because Jesus Christ was holy and was consumed with His Father’s glory in the temple, He too was passionate about hating evil.
Hebrews 1:9 (Speaking of Christ): “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness…”
Rev. 2:6 (Christ to the Church at Ephesus): “But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
So it is clear from the Old Testament and the New Testament that God hates evil things and wicked people.
Let me share three observations that flow from these Scriptures so far.
One is that with the coming of Christ and the glories of God revealed in the Gospel, that both God’s love and God’s hatred are more vividly portrayed, more intensified. Think about the passions seen at the cross, as well as the drama and the destruction in the book of Revelation.
A second observation is that our love, as well as our hatred, must be filtered through the person and work of Jesus Christ. More on that as we proceed…
A third comment is that we cannot say that all hatred is wrong. In fact, God Himself, the God of love, justly and perfectly hates certain things and people, just as we would want him to, if there is to be true and lasting justice and protection in the world. For example, because He loves His bride, the church, He hates those who seek to hurt her or deceive her.
The Third Biblical Truth: If You Love and Fear the Lord, Then You will Love what He loves and Hate what He Hates.
There are two verses that undergird this principle:
Psalm 97:10a “Let those who love the Lord hate evil.”
Proverbs 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil.”
Notice this: A love for the Lord and a fear of the Lord provide the proper motive for both loving and hating as He does. A correct fear of the Lord keeps love from being sloppy, shallow, and man-centered, while a love of the Lord keeps hatred from being vindictive, vengeful, and self-centered.
In other words, a heart-felt submission to the Lord will motivate you to a Christ-Centered Love and a Christ-centered Hatred. Such a love of the Lord and a fear of the Lord will enable you to love what and who He loves, and to hate what and who He hates.
Here is some Scriptural support for hating what the Lord hates:
Ps. 101:3 David declares “The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.”
119:113 “I hate the double-minded, but I love your Law.” (The double-minded include those who limped between the Lord and Baal, in 1 Kings 18; those in James 1:8 and 4:4)
119:163 “I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your Law.” That is, a love of God’s Word will lead to a hatred of Satan’s lies.
But here is the flip side, of loving who the Lord loves, even our enemies:
Exodus 23:5 “If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, don’t leave it there; be sure you help him with it.”
Matthew 5:43-44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”
Romans 12:17-21 “Do not repay anyone evil for evil… 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
In summary, we can see from God’s Word that God’s truth about love and hate cannot be dumbed down to a lawn sign or a bumper sticker. What God tells us and shows us about love and hate is deep, nuanced, and challenging!
But let us at least remember these three main truths:
One: Hatred can be Wrong or Right, Depending upon the Reason.
Two: Because the Lord is Holy, He Passionately Hates Evil.
Three: If You Love and Fear the Lord, You will Love what He loves and Hate what He Hates.
Therefore we can say that hate does have “a home in heaven,” and that the believer in Christ should submit to the Biblical teaching about both hate and love.
Now we often think about love and hate on a horizontal plane, between people, and that’s what those red and blue signs are about, but we need to begin our study of love and hate on the vertical plane, on the relationship between God and us.
Here are the key Biblical truths on this life and death matter:
First, we are all born with a wicked hatred in our hearts toward God.
Romans 5:10 “When we were God’s enemies.”
Col. 1:21 “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”
The unregenerate will always hate God and hate His Word, and such were all of us. Without God’s transformation, we will all hate God and hate Jesus Christ – as well as all who follow Him. See Psalm 69:4; John 3:20; John 7:7, 15:18, 25; 17:14; 1 John 3:13
Yet note that the world’s professed intolerance of hatred is strangely turned inside out when it comes to Jesus Christ; they have plenty of hatred in their homes and their hearts for the Gospel of Christ.
Second, all those who hate the Lord are under His just wrath.
Exodus 20:5-6 “You shall not bow down to them (idols) or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Also Deut. 5:9
Deut. 7:10 “Those who hate Him He will repay to their face by destruction; He will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate Him.”
Third, the Transforming Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ means that He can turn our sinful hatred into an amazing love!
Titus 3:3-5 “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…”
Eph. 2:13-16 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
For a dramatic example of someone who was transformed by the mercy and love of God our Savior, I will include the story of Kenny McClinton, Lynn’s second cousin in Northern Ireland. (See below.)
Let us love what the Lord loves. Let us hate what the Lord hates. Remember that we hated God and deserved His righteous hatred… but that Christ took that hate, and God poured out His love upon us! Do you believe that? Will you surrender to the Lord?
The Story of Kenneth “Maniac” McClinton
An Example of God’s Transforming Grace
Towards the end of my research for my book on Lynn’s ancestor’s, I received an e-mail from Dr. C. K. McClinton in Portadown, Northern Ireland. Dr. McClinton had just been visited by some relatives from New Zealand who showed him the McClinton family tree which I had sent them. He explained that he was the grandson of John McClinton, the brother of Rebecca McClinton, my wife’s grandmother, and therefore is Lynn’s second cousin. I have included Dr. McClinton’s story, with his kind permission, as a living testimony of how God’s grace can overcome and transform the deepest hatred and the most stubborn and rebellious will.
Kenny McClinton was one of the most feared men in Northern Ireland. His years of terrorist activity culminated in two life sentences for murder and other acts of terrorist violence. He had become a thorn in the side of the authorities. Even in prison he could not be tamed and found himself in solitary confinement punishment cells fifteen times within a nine month period.
He was born in 1947, the second son of a hard-drinking, hard-fighting, coal delivery man; a man who spent all the family income on drink, causing almighty rows in the home and leaving the family in abject poverty.
He was brought up in the heart of Protestantism, in the greater Shankill area of Belfast. For much of his young life he lived in a ramshackle ex-army hut with no running water. He was as familiar with rats as most children are with cats, and he and his brother were the butt of other children’s ridicule. His father spent time in prison and later left home, leaving his mother struggling to bring up the family with little social or financial support.
Kenny and his brother Davy’s reactions to the bullying and derision were to fight back. At an early age they learned how to defend themselves, thinking they were earning the respect of their peers. In fact, they became the terror of the areas in which they lived.
Kenny’s whole life centered around violence. He lived a kind of nomadic existence during his early years as his mother moved about numerous furnished accommodations in Belfast. He attended approximately 14 Primary Schools, always living by the law of the jungle, not realizing that this ruins lives.
When he was 15 years old he left school and commenced working as a laborer. Within a year he joined the Merchant Navy and sailed around the world for 12 years. During that time he was involved in the loosest kind of life imaginable, yet he never felt really satisfied. For him there was no lasting peace or contentment in the world’s pleasures, as something always felt like it was missing.
Kenny joined the Ulster Defense Regiment of the British Army in 1972. He was trained in the use of weapons, yet carried a little “yellow card” that forbid him to shoot at the I.R.A. terrorists unless they first shot at him. He left the U.D.R. and then drifted quite naturally into a Protestant defense organization called the Ulster Defense Association (U.D.A.).
Because of his violent nature and his previous British Army training, he was promoted to First Lieutenant of an active service within a mere three weeks. It was not long before he graduated to the Ulster Freedom Fighters (U.F.F.), an even more militant and much more feared Protestant terrorist group. He led from the front as he trained others in the use of weapons, machine guns and explosives. He would send lethal book bombs to key I.R.A. terrorists, and attempted to murder many of the I.R.A. brigade staff and their families. During this time he shot and killed two men and attempted to murder a number of others.
After a major bombing campaign he spent two weeks drinking hard. One morning he woke up in a girlfriend’s bed with a dreadful hangover. He was sweating profusely and feeling disgusted with what he had become – a terrorist murderer. For some reason he prayed perhaps his first sincere prayer to God: “God, I have always believed in You and the Protestant tradition. I am tired of what I have become. I am tired of my life. Please help me to have a new start.”
That was on a Friday in August 1977. On the following Monday morning Kenny was woken by a heavy hand hammering on his front door. Upon looking out he found his home surrounded by armed police and soldiers of the British Army. With little resistance he was arrested and taken to Castlereagh Interrogation Center in Belfast. He was questioned for five days, and charged with two counts of murder and many other terrorist offenses. Hundreds of other terrorists were rounded up at the same time.
Within the prison terrorist activities did not stop. In fact there developed a very strong core of militants who were almost as much a threat to the authorities inside the prison as they had been outside. Kenny was one of the original instigators of the “Loyalist Blanket Brigade” who refused to wear prison clothes or follow prison rules. The men would appear in court dressed in their underwear to show their contempt of the British Court System. On one occasion, to insult the authorities whom they felt had betrayed them and let them down in their struggle against the I.R.A, Kenny and another inmate appeared in court totally naked.
Kenny became the main organizer of such acts of contempt and aggression. Within one nine month period he was placed in the solitary punishment cells 15 times. He was referred to by the prison staff as “That Maniac McClinton.”
During his times in solitary confinement there was no means of mental stimulation, so to relieve his utter boredom Kenny decided to start reading the rather decrepit-looking prison issue of the King James Version of the Bible. Kenny recalled that, “I found I quite enjoyed all the stories in the early chapters of the Bible. I could closely relate to the whole tribal attitudes and nomadic experiences; the wars; the plots; the political intrigue. I could understand King David’s skullduggery when he arranged for a man to be killed, after sleeping with his wife and making her pregnant. I could understand the mighty Samson as he fought the Philistine oppressors and eventually pulled down the Dagon Temple upon them, killing thousands of his enemies. That’s what I wanted to do with mine!”
Slowly he read on, and the weeks turned to months, and the months turned to almost two years of solitary confinement punishments. After nearly two years of Remand imprisonment from the time of his arrest in 1977, McClinton was taken to the high Court in Belfast and tried for some 17 days. He then heard a High Court Judge say:
“McClinton, I find that you are a callous, cold-blooded, and completely ruthless man. You are in fact a U.F.F. assassin! I sentence you to two counts of life imprisonment with my stipulation that you serve no less than 20 years. Take him away.”
Off Kenny went to the H Blocks of the Maze Prison, but immediately refused to wear the prison uniform, as he stripped off his clothes and joined the Loyalist Blanket Protest to achieve political status for politically motivated offenses.
On one occasion, after three young Loyalist Blanket protestors had been beaten and abused by prison guards, Kenny took on 15 prison officers at once, dressed only in a prison towel around his waist. Eventually they overpowered him and administered their own kind of “justice” by hanging him upside down by his feet and beating him until he couldn’t breath. Kenny received 26 injuries in the beating and was awarded 22 days punishment for attacking 15 prison officers. There, in solitary confinement, the Bible reading continued.
As the months passed in solitary confinement on the Loyalist Blanket Protest, Kenny reached the New Testament in his Bible readings and there in those priceless pages of God’s Word, he experienced the great love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and “…things were never quite the same after that…”
Here is how he described his experience: “What could not be achieved by prison bars, batons, concrete and solitary confinement, was quickly achieved by the matchless love of the Lord Jesus Christ. There was nobody to talk at length with me about God; nobody to fully explain the way to become a Christian – no books, no tracts, no strains of ‘Oh Lamb of God I come’ during a Gospel Mission. There was only my black burden of sin and guilt and shame- and that old black book of books, the Bible.”
Looking back, Kenny remembers his first realization that he was a “filthy, Hell-deserving sinner…” but the Bible pointed him to the righteous Jesus Christ who had suffered and died and rose again from the dead in order to offer sinners His forgiveness (Matthew 11:28-30).
As he read on, he became aware of a tremendous spiritual battle that was going on between Satan and the Lord God. On August 12, 1979 he recalls falling down on his knees in cell 9, H Block 6 of the Maze Prison. He cried out to God in repentance – asked for forgiveness and faith to believe and be saved – and, praise God, he trusted in Christ Jesus and he was saved (Psalm 51; Luke 19:10).
He had read that one of the conditions of becoming a true Christian was an open, public confession with his mouth, as well as a genuine belief in his heart (Romans 10:9). Therefore, after rising from his knees in that solitary cell, he called for a ‘meeting’ in the usual manner. All the Loyalist Blanket Protesters came up to their cell doors to hear what he had to say, expecting some political poem or some morale booster. Instead he announced, “Today I have taken the most important step of my life. I have renounced violence. I have repented of my sins, I have asked Jesus Christ into my life, and to save me, and I believe He has saved me. From this day forth I cease to be a Military Commander of the U.F.F. and wish only to be a mere volunteer in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ. I will seek to serve Him to the best of my ability. I just wanted you men to know this.”
There was stunned silence in the H Block prison wing! After a while some made unbelieving and critical remarks such as “What is the maniac up to now?” However, today two of the men who made those remarks are born-again, Bible believing Christians serving the Lord in Belfast and have been for a long number of years.
When Kenny first went into prison he was semi-literate. After becoming a Christian, God gave him the patience to educate himself as his whole outlook changed dramatically. He painstakingly took correspondence courses with Emmaus Bible College. He took ‘O’ Levels in English and R.S.A. exams. He did various educational courses over a long period of years with the Open University and gained a BA honors degree in criminology and social sciences.
After sixteen years of imprisonment McClinton was eventually released on license in 1993. He has since then worshipped and taught in a number of Bible-believing churches.
Employment experts have deemed Kenny “unemployable” due to the high political profile he has and the manner in which he has spoken out against both terrorist violence and state oppression. He was ordained as a pastor in an international missions ministry called Moments of Faith International, based in Texas, USA in 1995, and then formed the Ulster-American Christian Fellowship.
Kenny met his wife Wendy, a former Salvation Army officer for 15 years, in 1993, and they have a daughter, Abigail Catherine.
The family has been through the fire and through the water over the past decade – death threats, slanderings, and social and economic marginalization – yet the Lord God has never forsaken them nor failed to supply their every need according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
Kenny, through the accumulated writings of two decades of deep Bible study, has accumulated a master’s degree in theology, a Ph.D. in philosophy, and a second doctorate in literature with the European Theological Seminary, based in Birmingham, England.
To talk to Dr. Kenny McClinton is to talk to a man who has clearly had such a transforming experience that anybody would have to be totally bigoted to disbelieve in the power of God to perform such a miracle of regeneration (John 3:3-8).
Today, the former “Maniac McClinton” stands before us, fully clothed, in his right mind, a completely “new creature in Christ.” Behold him and give praise and all glory to the Living Lord God.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)