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.”
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7 Things God Hates and Why You Should Hate Them Too
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.”
Clearly, God hates evil and we should too. The hard part for you and I is hating the evil yet loving the evil-doer, as Christ calls us to do.
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?
For several months, I have felt the call to pray for the ISIS soldiers. It’s been hard and I admit it’s not something I want to do. I do know that these cruel murderers are seeing the faith of Christians by the thousands – a faith that causes them to be willing to die rather than denounce Christ. I pray often that some of the soldiers will be touched by this witness and will respond to God. Scripture says that God’s arm is not to short to save and He can reach into the midst of ISIS and bring some to Him.
I must agree with you, Sherry, praying for terrorists is extremely difficult but I also admit, when I imagine one turning to Christ I do get energized. Like you, I will continue to pray for them to turn to the living God, but I will also pray for the fortitude of the world leaders to deal with the threat as they are in their positions to do so.
The enemy is definitely in the spiritual realm, but, at the same time, the enemy reveals his face to us in the physical realm. Then what are we to do? We have to protect ourselves.
Agreed, Mary. We have leaders and police and military for a reason and they have responsibilities and jobs to do in regard to these situations. Our role in the body of Christ is to pray for the leaders and those charged with engaging terrorists and to pray for the terrorists themselves. Not an easy time to be in!
That verse from Proverbs is haunting. How many of the things God hates are present and accepted…even celebrated… in our society today? Truly frightening when these attitudes are held up in comparison to a holy God.
I’m with you on that verse, Karen. I could have expanded more on it by pointing out the Hebrew word where we see “abomination” is “a disgusting thing,” like something we would instinctively turn our eyes from. The verse is better translated in the Lexham English Bible as “seven things are abominations of his soul.” Thank you for stopping by and for your comment!
This is such a well-thought, timely post and I appreciate how you addressed a difficult topic with truth and grace, without sounding harsh or judgmental. I agree with you, and I pray for the leaders of countries involved in these atrocities to respond with wisdom and justice. Thanks for sharing. Visiting from CBCE.
Hi Abby, thank you for the encouragement! It is well to know that this communicates with truth and grace. It’s difficult, especially given the circumstances to offer mercy, and at least for me definitely not something I can do on my own. Thank you for visiting!
I too have Christian friends struggling to make sense of the senseless. You did a great job speaking on evil. I am thankful for the writers, like you, clicking out hope on their key boards.
Thank you, Deb! I will continue to click away as long as I have the ability!!
Thank you for your thoughts and encouragements! I absolutely believe that spiritual battles are played out in the physical world.. its just our understanding of spirituality is so lacking. In biblical times it seemed people were so inclined to the spiritual world that they had what seems to us an out of this world connection to the spiritual world.. in our world of what you see is what you get, it seems difficult for us to understand. These times are trying in our faith at best… glad I found your blog and I’m looking forward to getting to know your insight on the spiritual world, and like you, I’m fascinated by all the amazing aspects of life God put together in his creation!!!
Hi Stacy, thank you for stopping by! I’m encouraged that you found this article beneficial. Along with your thoughts, I have seen how Christians outside of North America are so much more familiar with that spiritual realm. Along with other things, our entertainment industry has done much damage to our vision in this regard. The best thing we can do is present the facts concerning the spiritual side of reality through the lens of Scripture. That is what I intend to continue doing!