I talk a lot about love, and the charge to "love God with all your heart and mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."
I don't talk a lot about love's presumed opposite - hate. There are certainly places in Scripture that do:
- Amos 5:21-23: "I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps."
~ through the prophet, God is telling the people of Israel that they were not living justly in the 8th century BCE: Israel (the northern kingdom) was strong and wealthy, but the wealth was unequally distributed. Gregory Mobley writes "Through manipulation of debt and credit, wealthy landowners amassed capital and estates at the expense of small farmers. The smallest debt served as the thin edge of a wedge that lenders could use to separate farmers from their patrimonial farms and personal liberty." Furthermore, "Amos denounced the society...in vivid language, bitterly describing the decadent opulence, immorality, and smug piety of elites who 'trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth'. Amos's program, in contrast, called for 'justice' and 'righteousness.'
- Luke 14:26 - “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple." (Jesus)
~ Now that's one of the harsh sayings - but it is also hyperbolic language. Jesus is stressing the need to put God first in his disciples' lives. It sits a little easier in Matthew:
Matthew 10:37 - "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
~ We need to pick our priorities.
Over and over, especially in the prophets and in the teaching of Jesus, looking out for the widows and orphans, the alien, and the poor is expected of the rulers and the people in general.
While Scripture speaks the word "hate" the GOAL of the speech is to put our relationship with God first, and all else follows from that.
We love God through loving our neighbors; by loving our neighbors. Loving our neighbors puts the flesh on the bone; and we love them because we are loved. The love of God - that is, love of God for us - is what makes it possible for us to love God. The love of God - the love of God for us and our love for God - is what makes it possible for us to love our neighbor. Our love is possible because we are loved.
So even when the Bible speaks of hate - the real point is love. It is always about love.