When a culture rejects God’s standard of righteousness, it always replaces God’s law with some new law, some new standard of right and wrong. And even while mocking and despising the morality of Christianity, the high priests of the new cultural morality will enforce those new laws with a zeal surpassing religious fanatics.
In our day, the new moral code is simple: To love is good; to hate is bad.
You’ve heard it. What was once considered sin is now justified by Love. Fornication, adultery, sodomy—those behaviors aren’t wrong because those people love each other. They are engaged in an act of love. End of debate.
And to be accused of hating is the ultimate insult and the ultimate discussion ender. Opposed to abortion, you hate women! Opposed to war, you hate America! Opposed to government-run healthcare, you hate sick people, poor people, and old people. Opposed to anything else I don’t like, “You’re just a hater.” Now, the debate is over. I win.
On the surface, it seems so self-evident: love is good; hate is bad. But is it true? Is this really an infallible, universal standard? Can it ever be bad to love or good to hate? Can we really trust how we feel about something to determine its righteousness?
Perhaps in the Garden, our emotions could have been trusted, but because of the Fall, our affections are horribly disordered. Our hearts are twisted up by sin and as a result, we regularly love the wrong things—even clinging to behaviors that will destroy our bodies and souls. Our fallen hearts can even love the right things the wrong way: food, alcohol, sex, even our families. Likewise, we can, and do, hate the wrong things. Too often we hate the very things that are good and righteous and life-giving. Our affections are a mess.
The challenge for human beings is to learn how to love that which is True, Good, and Beautiful. And we must also learn how to hate the things God hates: sin and wickedness. We must spend a lifetime retraining our hearts. And for that we need a standard outside of ourselves. What we feel is a miserable and deceptive guide.
Of course, even the new high priesthood doesn’t reject all forms of hatred. They outspokenly endorse hatred of smokers, fast food chains, rich people, evangelical Christians, biblical morality, guns, the list goes on and on. This inconsistency demonstrates that they don’t really object to hate. In reality they are not disagreeing with hatred; they disagree about which behaviors are deserving of hatred. In other words, they object to the ways that others order their affections.
And so, the real antithesis is not between love and hate but between God’s standard of righteousness and every other standard. Will we love that which God loves? Will we hate that which God hates? We will love and we will hate. The challenge is to learn to love and hate the right things in the right way.
The Beatles blew it. Love is not all we need. All we really need is rightly ordered affections.