What Hatred Was Made For
When my students discovered last year that I had never completed The Chronicles of Narnia, there was some consternation. They all know I am a huge Tolkien fan, so they couldn’t understand why I had neglected the work of Tolkien’s good friend C. S. Lewis. I had tried to read the Chronicles before, and I had made it about halfway through volume 3 before stopping, but that was it. I don’t know why, but I couldn't get into them on my first attempt. Ultimately, I promised one student in particular that I would try to read all of them over our school break. I did complete all of the Chronicles of Narnia on my second attempt and enjoyed them much more this time around. Frankly, it’s worth reading all seven volumes just for the last page of The Last Battle. I get chills even thinking about those final paragraphs. They are beautiful.
After completing the Chronicles, I decided to take a stab at another of Lewis’s fictional works: The Space Trilogy. I completed that series as well, although I am still not quite sure what to make of it. I think repeated readings will be required. Although each of the three books has its own standout passages, there is one section in Perelandra that is simply brilliant, and that is the temptation scene. Those who have read it know what I’m talking about. Those who haven’t should read the trilogy. Without giving too much away to those who fall in that second category, let me put it this way. The hero of the story, Ransom, is on the planet Venus, which is still unfallen. In this environment, which is analogous to Eden in many ways, he witnesses the entrance of a demonic tempter who begins to converse with the innocent Eve-like character Tinidril, seeking to cause her fall into sin.
The entire section is a fascinating examination of the nature of temptation and reveals Lewis’s insight into human nature, but there was one passage that made me stop. As the hero is watching this demonic being bring the temptation to a critical point, Lewis writes the following words about Ransom:
Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over him--a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful hatred. The energy of hating, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing fully to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose into his arms and legs till he felt that they were pillars of burning blood. What was before him appeared no longer a creature of corrupted will. It was corruption itself to which will was attached only as an instrument. Ages ago it had been a Person: but the ruins of personality now survived in it only as weapons at the disposal of a furious self-exiled negation. It is perhaps difficult to understand why this filled Ransom not with horror but with a kind of joy. The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for.
This is one of those stop and re-read passages. Ransom finds out at last what hatred was made for. Again, for those who have not read it, I don’t want to spoil it. You need to read it yourself in its fuller context.
The last sentence in that paragraph is worth thinking about: “The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for.”
There is a lot of hatred in our fallen world. There is also a lot of hatred even among Christians. Unfortunately, that hatred is often misdirected. There is something hatred “was made for,” but it’s not our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s not our neighbors.
What is it then?
Consider what Scripture says:
O you who love the LORD, hate evil! (Psalm 97:10)
The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil (Proverbs 8:13)
Hate evil, and love good (Amos 5:15)
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good (Romans 12:9)
Throughout Scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments, God’s people are called to hate evil. We are called to abhor it, to loathe it.
In other words, hatred was "made for" evil.
Often, the first thing we do when we read these biblical commands is to start looking around trying to find some evil out there to hate – in our neighbors, in our brothers and sisters in Christ, in our pastors, on the Internet. Of course, it won’t take long to find some evil if we do that. There is a lot of evil in this fallen world.
But what about the evil in here? In our own hearts? Do we hate that evil? Do we even admit its presence?
When we read these commands to hate evil, the first place we ought to look for evil is in our own hearts. In other words, we need to take the beam out of our own eye before pointing out the speck in our brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5). We are called as Christians to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13). We have to hate those deeds in order to put them to death. What we tend to do, however, is to excuse our own sin because, hey, it’s me! I’m not like that tax collector over there. I’m not like that (fill in the blank with your particular hated group) over there. I go to church. I read the Bible. I do this. I do that.
We often don’t hate our own sin as we should because we don’t grasp how truly evil and perverse all sin is. We don’t grasp how truly evil sin is because we don’t grasp how truly holy God is. If we do begin to get a glimpse of the perfect and infinite goodness, purity, beauty, and holiness of God, then, and only then, will we begin to see sin, your sin and my sin included, for what it really is. Sin is utterly evil. Sin is satanic. Every time we sin, we are following in the footsteps of Satan, turning against the will of our infinitely loving and holy God and defiantly saying to His face, “My will be done!”
If we love God, we are to hate evil, but we need to start by hating the remnants of corruption and evil within our own hearts. Rather than starting our day by grabbing our phones and scrolling through endless reports of all the evil being committed out there, perhaps we could begin our days on our knees before God asking Him to conform our will to His will, our heart to His heart, our desires to His desires in order that we might love what He loves and hate what He hates. If we fight against all the evils out there while harboring evil in here, we become hypocrites.
For those who are not followers of Christ, the wages of sin, of evil, is death. Even if you do not hate evil, God does, and He hates it with a perfect and holy hatred. You can’t save yourself from your own sin and evil. But there is good news because of Jesus Christ. God’s promise is that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. Repent and believe, and you shall be saved.