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Being in hate

A mind-altering condition with severe consequences

Being in hate

(DigitalVision/Getty Images)

You have heard of being in love. Have you heard of being in hate? People who are in love generally know they are in love. People who are in hate, not so.

People in love are emotional and realize it. People in hate think they have never been so rational.

We speak of being in love as a state. One can often identify the onset of the condition (and sometimes the expiration of it). We say of a starry-eyed couple, “They are in love.” It is an acknowledgment that something real has overtaken their brains.

There is no comparable common expression for people in hate, because few acknowledge that hate is mind-altering.

But it is. Scripture gives a host of examples. Here we learn that hate invades the mind of its practitioner in very particular ways. Cain hated his brother, and it was suicidal. God tries to rescue him by posing searching questions: “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? ... sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7). Cain will not have it. As Screwtape observes, “There is always something they insist on keeping, even at the price of misery”(C.S. Lewis).

People who are in hate don’t know what they have lost. What they have lost is their very humanity.

So consumed with hatred for the children of Israel is Pharaoh that he destroys his own country trying to harm them, crying, “Victory!” as he staggers, mud-splattered, son-bereft, and half insane, among the wreckage. His descent from reason to bestiality alarms even the royal court, who had joined him at first but disembarked from obsession a few exits earlier when they discerned the hand of God: “Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” (Exodus 10:7).

Haman’s hatred led him to a noose of his own making (Esther). Absalom was not the same man right after Tamar’s rape as two years later, when hate had bored like a cankerworm into his soul. It issued in the murder of his brother Amnon—with Absalom’s own royal aspirations also the casualty (2 Samuel 13).

People who are in hate don’t know what they have lost. What they have lost is their very humanity. Micro-choice by micro-choice it seeps away—like Pinocchio and his friends, who begin to sprout donkey ears, a tail, and hideous guffaws unawares, as the wages of debauchery; like the depraved man of whom the Scripture says, “gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not” (Hosea 7:9). He imagines himself to be still his old vigorous self—physically, mentally, and spiritually. But he is deluded. He thinks of hate, “I got this!” Hate says of him, “I got this!”

In the final, drawing room scene of the 2001 movie Conspiracy about the fateful Wannsee Conference of Jan. 20, 1942, that produced the “final solution” for the problem of European Jewry, Gen. Reinhard Heydrich relates to two other SS officers a story told him by Friedrich Kritzinger during the break:

There was a man who loved his mother fiercely but hated his father. The mother had always been kind, but the father had been cruel. When his mother died, at the funeral the man tried to cry but could not. The father lived much longer, but when he finally withered away at an old age, the man was inconsolable.

“I don’t understand,” said one of the officers. “No?” said Heydrich. “The man had been driven all his life by hatred. When the mother died, that was a loss. When the father died—when the hate had lost its object—then the man’s life was empty, over. … That was Kritzinger’s warning.” “What? That we should not hate the Israelites?” “No, that it should not so fill our lives that when they are gone we have nothing left to live for.”

Our politics in America have become hate-driven. But there will be a cost for those who practice it: “Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11).

This is no analogy or metaphor, but the actual condition of the person “in hate.” It robs the sight of him who wields it.


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  • TxAgEngr
    Posted: Wed, 06/14/2017 09:27 pm

    We have certainly seen "Being in Hate" demonstrated today on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia.

  • AmyM
    Posted: Sat, 06/24/2017 09:17 pm

    Asia & Pacific

    North Korea : Otto Warmbier

  • Dick Friedrich
    Posted: Sun, 06/25/2017 08:36 am

    "People in love are emotional and realize it. People in hate think they have never been so rational." Are you sure about this?

    What I have seen about both types of people is that there are those that claim to be rational when in fact they are rationalizing emotions. In fact, we all do it in our weak and/or sinful moments. Sometimes our emotions lead us in the right or good direction, sometimes they don't. Sometimes our reason leads us in the right direction and sometimes it doesn't. Ultimately neither love nor hate will be correct if the emotion or thinking begins with us - our hearts are selfish by nature.  

    Righteousness (the missing element found only in true love and true hate) is found in neither love nor hate (as defined by the world or our flesh) but in humility before God. E.g. Deut 9:6, John 7:24, etc

  • Bob R
    Posted: Sun, 06/25/2017 12:53 pm

    Ecc 7:9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

    Excellent assesment of our political situation.  And while conservatives generally do not respond with the same degree of violence, we none the less have need of this reminder. 

  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 06/26/2017 10:09 am

    Perhaps conservatives to not use violence of actions, but I have seen truly hateful words in posts on my Facebook coming from "conservatives."  It saddens me.

  • PastorTWP's picture
    Posted: Mon, 06/26/2017 07:41 am

    Very timely analysis of our current situation...not just in the US, but in many places around the world. I have never been one to quote a Scripture in a "band-aid' type manner, but for the believer in the US it is time for us to take the words of Christ in Matthew 5:43-48 more seriously than perhaps we ever have.

  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 06/26/2017 10:07 am

    Thank you, Andree, for this timely column.  I had begun to hate someone...more than I did other things, that is.

    What a blessing you are. What a good God we have.

  • RC
    Posted: Tue, 06/27/2017 10:36 am

    I don’t think contrasting hate and love is as important as appreciating how forgiveness helps to overcome hate. As Ms. Peterson points out, with wonderfully accurate Biblical examples, how hate can consume and destroy the bearer of it, which is way beyond reason. On the other hand, Christ like forgiveness, which may be hard to justify with human reason, frees us to really live as Christ intended.       

  • Matt's picture
    Posted: Tue, 06/27/2017 10:53 am

    Really good. Hate is mind-mind altering. It obsesses the mind and binds the will making it impossible to see alternatives.

    And you point out some of the most important asepcts of anger. It is nearly always self-righteous and self-justified. Since that is so, it also is blind to its own weaknesses and wrongs. A good motto: "Anything that can be done with anger can be done better without it."

    Now anger is being associated with politics so that it is all about winning and not about growing, helping, or building. It makes doing things together impossible. Anger and hurry are epidemic and will destroy us individually and corporately. If we can't being to see how to live our lives without anger, we will not see how to make a community, church, or nation without anger either.