In Steve Sylwester’s Aug. 19 letter, “Hate is not necessarily a bad thing,” he quoted Luke 14:26, and rightly said, “This is a troubling verse …” but erroneously conjectured, “Hate must be of God if God requires it.” Trouble begins translating early Greek into modern English. Greek “miseo” does translate to English “hate,” but the meanings of these two terms, as understood and used by people of each time, are different.
Citing Webster’s: to hate is “to … detest; … feel extreme hostility toward; to hate the enemy.” The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament describes “miseo” as an idiom, meaning to people in Jesus’ day something like “to love less than.”
Since “God is love (1Peter 4:8),” it is troubling to think Jesus would say to detest, not love less than; to surmise with Sylwester that hate, not miseo, “must be of God if God requires it.” Christ urging us to love God more than all else is in keeping with God’s requirements to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind; and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27; Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18)” and to “love your enemies (Matthew 5:44).”
Troublesome now: whether we love like Christ, not whether God opened the door to hate. Opening that door is Satan; Jesus bids us only to love.
If, as Sylwester asserts, the First Amendment “guarantees the right to hate,” his question, “ … what are … Christians … to do if hate is not welcome here?” is answered in Luke 14:26: we’re not to hate, but to miseo, to love all less than we love God, but still, love.