No Holds Barred: Can love exist without hate?

Evil still flourishes in this world because we have forgotten how to hate it.

Jerusalem Terror Attack 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jerusalem Terror Attack 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hearing about a bombing in Jerusalem is entirely different when you have two daughters living there. You scramble for your phone. Any delay in their answering is almost physically painful. You finally get through. Thank God, they’re all right! But what of those who aren’t? Those maimed and killed were also someone’s loved ones.
The news lately has been sickening. And while disasters like the Japanese earthquake are not something we can yet predict or control, the knifing of sleeping three-month-olds in Itamar, bombs against civilians in Jerusalem, live fire against protesters in Bahrain and the use of helicopter gunships against civilians in Libya are things we can stop.
So why don’t we? Why does evil still flourish? How is it that Muammar Gaddafi could get away with blowing up planes and discos for 40 years, yet only now is deemed to have “lost the legitimacy to rule”? Why has the mafioso Assad family ruled Syria for decades? And how can terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah continue to murder Jewish civilians with barely a peep from the international community? We have forgotten how to hate evil.
EARLY CHRISTIANS like the apostle Paul are said to have rejected the “vengeful” God of the Old Testament. In his place, the church fathers gave us the man Jesus, who they said was synonymous with love. Hate no longer had any place, including the hatred of evil. So whereas the God of Israel says explicitly in Malachi: “I love Jacob but I hate Esau” – presumably because the former represents those who struggle for peace, while the latter has become a symbol for those who “live by the sword.”
In the 20th century genocide was commonplace. A few of the better-known examples include the Turks slaughter of the Armenians during World War I, the Germans attempted extermination of the Jews, the Khmer Rouge and its killing fields in Cambodia in 1975-78, the Hutus hacking to death of the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, the ethnic cleansings of Croats by Bosnian Serbs and the wholesale slaughter of black Christians in the Sudan by militias.
How does the world allow so much suffering? Because people of faith – people who could make a difference – practice love without hate, which means we often lack the motivation to stop monsters or protect innocents.
Is anyone surprised that China, whose president was recently given only the second state dinner of the Obama presidency, is currently brutalizing a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and opposing the use of force against Gaddafi? At times it becomes almost tragically comical, as when the Carter administration recognized the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia. Or when Kofi Annan, then head of UN peacekeeping forces worldwide, forbade Canada’s Gen. Romeo Dallaire, who commanded the UN troops in Kigali, from using force to stop the Rwandan genocide.
But can love really exist without hate? Can someone claim to love the 1.5 million children killed by Hitler without hating their SS killers? Can you love the 800,000 Rwandans who were butchered with machetes without hating the Hutus who just a few hours earlier had been their friends and neighbors? Can you claim to love peaceful protesters in Tehran while refusing to hate the tyrant who mows them down in the streets? By way of response I might hear “hate the sin, but not the sinner.”
And spare me the argument that hating terrorists can spill over into hating innocents. The same argument can be made against loving, after all, because you may end up loving the wrong people, like a husband or wife having an affair. Pulease! Discerning adults are usually capable of controlling our emotions and expressing them appropriately.
We hate Hamas for its brutality against its women, or its murder of gays in Gaza without letting it spill over into hating the guy who jumped the line in the shopping center.
INDEED, I believe this is what Jesus meant. He never said to love God’s enemies, but your enemies. I’d say God’s enemies are the “religious” police in Saudi Arabia who allowed young girls to burn alive in their high school rather than run from the inferno without a face covering. Your “enemy” is the guy who got promoted over you at work.
Likewise, by advising that we turn the other cheek, I don’t think Jesus meant that if Osama bin Laden blows up New York, we should let him destroy Los Angeles as well. Rather, I believe he meant that if you’re told that someone has said something unpleasant about you, you should “give him the benefit of the doubt” and transcend the provocation. Any other understanding would make a mockery of one of the greatest moral teachers of all time.
Jesus hated the Romans for their cruelty, and Luke (13:1-2) describes the brutality of the Roman proconsul Pilate, which Jesus uses as an illustration. “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than other Galileans because they suffered this way?’” Indeed, if we don’t begin to fight evil, more innocents will die.
The writer is the author of 25 books, most recently Honoring the Child Spirit and Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life. He is about to publish a book on the Jewish Jesus and his fight against Rome. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.