I hate liars and lies with a perfect hatred. As it is written in the Psalms: “I hate and detest falsehood, But I love [God’s] law. (Psalm 119:163)
As I write this, the United States has been rocked by multiple acts of violence in the past few days. A Florida man has been accused of sending multiple pipe bombs to prominent Democrats. Thankfully, the bombs did not explode. As we were reeling from this act of terrorism, a white supremacists tried to break into an African-American church to do harm. When he could not get in, he went to a local Kroger store in Kentucky and shot two African Americans dead. While we were processing this tragedy, a white nationalist walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 worshippers and injured six.
Violence is lazy and stupid.
What did these men think? Did the Florida man think that he would send bombs to high-ranking Democrats and progressive thought would go away? Did he think that people would say; “Oh my goodness, these people are dead, I ought to support Donald Trump now.”? When the killer shot two African Americans in a Kroger store did he think that all black people across the globe would vaporize? When the shooter entered the Tree of Life synagogue did he think that a religion that has maintained for millennia through countless purges and the Holocaust would suddenly disappear? Stupid.
These killers clearly do not know history. The moment blood is shed in the name of a cause or as an attack on a segment of humanity for no reason other than who they are, the blood sanctifies the cause and humanity remembers that human life is precious. Violence makes people more dedicated to their cause. Violence makes people more determined to live and to render the violence ineffective.
Violence is lazy. It is lazy because it somehow believes that a cause can be defeated through violence. In reality, one cannot bomb a political ideology. One cannot shoot and entire race of people. One cannot mass murder a religion.
In the face of lazy stupid useless violence, what am I to do with my perfect hatred?
I wish it were a tangible thing that I could pack away in a box and put it in the back of the basement to await death cleaning. Or, would that it were a thing that I could toss in the kitchen garbage then put on the curb for the weekly trash truck to pick up and dump in the local landfill. There it could rest for a thousand years until an archeologist digs it up and dusts it off to learn about a culture long gone. Sadly, this is not how a perfect hatred works.
It comes in waves that renews itself with every new lie. During this election season, the lies come fast and furious. It makes one grateful for the mute button on the television remote. It makes one turn off the television and radio and the Internet for sanity’s sake. Still, the question persists: what am I to do with my perfect hatred?
As a nondenominational Christian, I describe myself as a believer trying to live the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon, Jesus teaches that we ought to love our neighbors as ourselves and that we ought to also love our enemies. He teaches that we are to pray for those who persecute us. It is important to remember that Jesus was not a Christian. He taught the Jewish scriptures. Leviticus 19:17-18 says: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you may most certainly rebuke your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”
In Luke 10: 30-37, Jesus explains who our neighbor is. It has nothing to do with geographic proximity or with familial, racial or national ties or with religious affiliation or with class or gender. Our neighbor is the person who shows us mercy and to whom we show mercy.
“Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Matthew 5: 7 Amplified Bible)
As a believer, I am not free to hate. I am not free to exercise my bigotry in the name of Jesus. I have been bought with a price. It is my obligation to do as Jesus taught and as Divine Love who is God commands. And, when we have done this, we have only done what we ought to have done. (Luke 17:10)
So, again: what am I to do with my perfect hatred?
I have an obligation to call lies what they are. I have an obligation to rebuke my neighbor for lies. I have an obligation to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) because I have no power over what another person does. I only have power over what I do.
This is the hard work that replaces my perfect hatred. My perfect hatred, my righteous indignation becomes the fuel for my persistent efforts. I cannot take the stupid useless lazy way that is violence. When my blood boils acid hot, when I am shaking with a perfect hatred, the thing I am obligated to do is to be still until I am calm enough to speak the truth over and over and over again until it overcomes the lies.
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of JustPeaceTheory.com and author of “Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.”