Hating Your Brother

Why should you not hate your brother? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

He hurt Allie.

That’s all you need to know at the start. I won’t go into who it was or what he did, but he really hurt Allie. I was at an Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting and I saw someone sitting in front of me. They looked like him from behind.

I had rage.

Honest rage.

When I left later, I saw that it wasn’t him, and thankfully I didn’t do anything the whole time. Later at that event, I’m hearing Clay Jones speak. Clay Jones is a wonderful apologist who talks so much about the problem of evil, and in this talk he gives me an insight that has stuck with me today. He looks at this section in the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus giving a cost-benefit analysis.

Let’s look at what Jesus says.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Why is it that you shouldn’t hate your brother in your heart?

Because it means that if you hate him and the chance came up and you thought the benefits outweighed the costs, you would murder him.

I spoke to Clay that evening and we arranged to talk later on together. It’s something that has stuck with me. I am tempted many times with a hatred for someone. If I do that though, that hatred really doesn’t do anything to the person. It just hurts me.

If I allow it to foster, it becomes a poison that tears away at my own soul. I was created to love and be loved. If I live with that kind of hatred, then I am doing the exact opposite of my purpose.

This doesn’t mean that we need to make a statement that all hate is wrong. It’s not. There are things you should hate. If you love all people, you should hate racism. If you love women, you should hate rape. If you love animals, you should hate animal cruelty. The reason you should hate something, is because you truly love something that you ought to love.

What about calling your brother a fool? Didn’t Jesus call the Pharisees fools? Didn’t Paul refer to the Galatians as foolish? Yes on both counts. It depends on the nature of your heart.

Often times when guys get together, one thing they do to one another is trash talk, especially if they play games together. Do they really mean to hurt one another with the insults? Not at all. It’s just expected behavior. In some ways, when men insult one another, it can actually be a way of bonding and showing love to one another.

Some insults aren’t like that. Some insults are designed to destroy. Not only destroy, but destroy the person. Now I am not one who rules out insults in argumentation. It’s hard to do that when you see it being done regularly in Scripture. I am one who says that you need to check your heart.

If you have honest hatred for the person you are answering or evangelizing, then you need to step away from that. You can hate the system all you want to. In fact, you should. I hate atheism, but I should love atheists. I hate Islam, but I should love Muslims. I hate Mormonism, but I should love Mormons, etc.

Jesus is telling us to check our hearts. Do we honestly have hatred for the person that we are talking to. Left unchecked, that hatred will turn into murder if it is allowed to reach full fruition. The only thing holding us back is fear of consequences.

Note also that Jesus when doing these things is not downplaying the Law. He is seriously upping the ante. Many of us can go through life very easily without murdering someone. That’s not much of an accomplishment. To deal with the hatred in your heart? That’s huge.

And if you want to follow the way of Jesus, you have to work to do the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sex And Violence In The Bible

What do I think of Joseph W. Smith’s book from P & R Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

sexandviolenceintheBible

When you see a book called Sex and Violence in the Bible: A Survey of Explicit Content In The Holy Book, it’s tempting to think the worse. Ah Yes. Here we go. Another book from an atheist meant to show us just how incredibly dirty that our Bible really is. Here we go. It’s another claim about how there are so many passages in the Bible that you will never hear talked about in a church service. Once again, we are seeing that the Bible can be a book that has passages that are highly disturbing to read about.

If you thought that, you would be partially right.

Except this book isn’t by an atheist but by an evangelical Christian.

The Bible in fact does contain many passages that would be considered dirty. It does contain passages we don’t talk about in church services. It does have passages that are highly disturbing to read about. Finally, we should be thankful it has those because the world we live in contains a lot of filth and a lot of realities that we don’t want to talk about and yet we have to face them.

The book starts with the story about Smith showing a movie at a church and because the movie had some questionable material in it, it was later said that it was not the kind of movie that should have been shown. Smith thought about this and how the Bible contains such material as well and what would happen if we turned the whole Bible into a movie where we showed everything it talked about. What rating would that movie get? Would we show it in church?

Good questions.

Smith starts with sex. Let’s face it. We think about sex constantly. I know we men do and I’m sure women do far more than I realize. It is on our televisions and it is in our films. We can see this especially since Fifty Shades of Grey is supposed to be hitting the movie screens soon after being a best-selling book. Sex is extremely popular and since we think about it all of the time, doesn’t it make sense that the Bible would mention it?

Sometimes, the Bible does use euphemisms to describe sex. There are very few words that describe the action itself in the good book, whereas in our world, you can find an abundance of claims. (Getting laid, doing it, making love, coitus, etc. Some terms are technical, some are positive and romantic, and some are just dirty) The details of what happens in sex are never really described, though the longings can be quite detailed at times. Just consider what is said about Song of Songs! For some thinking on that, remember with euphemisms that a hand is not always a hand.

One place the Bible is normally quite positive in describing sexuality is in describing the female, and why should this be a surprise? Some might say this is because the Bible was written by men and what are men thinking about but the female body? Perhaps, but it could also be because woman is created as the representation of beauty in creation. Women have a great interest in their beauty and it is celebrated in the Scriptures. Her beauty is seen as a prize and a gift, though certainly a man is to respect that gift. The female body is spoken of quite clearly in many places although some parts of her do indeed have euphemisms.

But there is a dark side. You will find times where sex is seen in a negative light. The sections on violence for instance contain accounts of rape. Other than that, you will also find cases of incest that actually take place in the Bible. You will find stories of adulterous affairs that take place. What has happened? It is because just as in our world, man has taken a good gift of God, sex, and used it for evil.

Violence? Yep. Violence is in there. There are cases of murder and torment and burning and things of that sort. Smith devotes chapters to many forms of violence and where they take place and sees what commentators say about them. Is this graphic? Yes. Is it often matters we do not want to think about? Yes. So why bring them up? Because they are matters we should think about.

That’s the point. If we are to take Scripture seriously, we have to take all of it seriously, including the parts that can be difficult. Maybe we should hear a sermon on Ezekiel 16 or 23. Maybe we should discuss regularly the kinds of violence that show up in the Bible. Could it be the reason so many Christians become atheists is because of what they are stunned to read about in the Bible that their church never prepared them for? Could it be we have a problem with sexual ethics in the church today because we never really discuss what the Bible has to say about sex?

Smith’s work is quite thorough and one worth looking into. These are the kinds of things we need to talk about also to show us how serious the problem of sin is that it distorts sex and that it leads to violence. It is then that we can also truly appreciate the work of the cross and how much we need to embrace sanctification. Those interested in these matters will be benefited by having this book in their library.

In Christ,
Nick Peters