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His soul Hates the Lovers of Violence. Ps. 11:5

May 15 2011

  I remember taking my girls to a hockey game, and the whole audience came to its feet to cheer on a fight that ended with a player being removed by EMTs and blood stains seeping into the ice.  It made me nauseous when I realized I was among those cheering, and my girls were watching not just the assault, but my example.  I can try to explain it away a lot of different ways, but in the end, I was sinning when I was cheering on this hideous act of violence.

Psalm 11:5 tells us that the Lord’s “soul hates the lover of violence”.  Notice that it does not say He “loves the sinner and hates the sin”, a cliche we are often taught in Sunday school.  He hates the lover of violence.  Notice, too, that it says God’s soul hates the lover of violence.  This hate comes from the deepest, most intimate part of God- His soul.  This certainly should cause believers to pause and reflect.  Does ‘hate’ mean now what it meant then?  Does God both love and hate the lovers of violence simultaneously?  I imagine an entire course in seminary could be taught on this topic. 

Although Jo has finished her freshman year at Nyack Bible College, she hasn’t apparently taken “God’s Hatred 101” yet.  But she did tell me of an interesting exchange with one professor.  When she told her she did her senior speech on a biblical view of pacifism, the professor replied, “You went to a Christian school, didn’t you?  Don’t they usually steer all their graduates toward the military?”  This would be an unfortunate stereotype, if it wasn’t true.  And while I don’t think all who serve in the military are lovers of violence, I know that many of these Christian high school students talk a lot more about killing ‘the SOBs’ than they do the love and grace of God.  On the other hand, my dad served in WWII, and I’m very proud of him.  He was not a lover of violence, but saw WWII as an unfortunate necessity. 

Certainly, for Christians, Augustine’s Just War Theory allows for my dad’s  mindset.  Unfortunately, Augustine’s theory- the definitive statement about Christianity and warfare- is scarcely known to baby boom era American believers. Instead, we have Christians whose attitude is, like Noel Paul Stookey sings,

“Though we’re pastorally encouraged to love them as we pray,

We’ll evidently take a break to blow them all away.”


But, just warfare aside, Christians seem strangely accepting of violence.  Chuck Norris is a huge hero to evangelical youth.  And let’s be honest, we watch his shows and movies for the fighting, period.  I read an article recently on ‘Christian’ mixed martial arts, and evangelical karate has been around for years.  Christian moshing is as commonplace at ‘Gospel’ concerts as  tacky evangelical tee shirts.  A popular televangelist (false prophet?) advocates the assassination of Hugo Chavez, and the religious right is one of the NRA’s biggest supporters.  Then there’s the darling of the religious right agenda (cult theology ignored) who has said, "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. ... No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out.” 

So what do we do with Psalm 11:5?  “His soul hates the lover of violence?”  What do we do with all the many more verses about turning the other cheek, being a peace maker, and having a spirit of peace and self control?  We either need to take a lot of white out to our Bibles, or we need to turn off the reruns of “Walker, Texas Ranger”, stop listening to self appointed commentators on FOX and TBN who advocate assassinations and murder, and turn our eyes on the Prince of Peace.  May we never be a people so wrapped up in our politics and entertainment, that we are hated by God.

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