Wikipedia has a list of “List of terrorist incidents, January–June 2016” and it is a long list for just six months, with everything from mob violence to airport bombings. Human beings are violent and unhappy.
When I check the news, someone else has died in some terrorist attack, somewhere in the world. I hope we never get immune to the fact that most killers, in these news stories, hate and kill in the name of God. The good news for Christians is that most religious violence has come from other religions; until now.
So can Christians hate? Can we hate people, and not just bad things? Would the death of anyone make your life better?
I know that the mean and miserable people in my life are growing older; but every time one of them dies, my life does not get better. There is no improvement down that road. My happiness is tied to God, not to them.
So is there any possibility of Christian-inspired violence in the world? Yes.
I have never met someone who identifies as a Christian, and who expresses murderous hatred for others, but I know they are out there. Recently, at least fifty people died in a shooting in a gay bar in Orlando Florida, which prompted a Christian pastor to preach “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die.”
We can dismiss haters as fringe lunatics who are not real Christians, and who violate the teachings of Jesus “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
But there is another news story that can teach us. A man in Minneapolis allegedly shouted and argued with two men who were holding hands near a Gay bar. He told them they were going to hell and apparently quoted a Bible verse, and then he shot them; in the legs, with a pellet gun.
We can dismiss the shooter as mentally ill, but there is a warning in this story. I don’t know any Christian who acts like him, but I know there are some fundamental disagreements between most Christians and most Gays.
I am convinced that human behavior comes from choices we make. That is the belief in business management and the criminal justice system, and the reason I became a Christian. I made a decision, I wasn’t born this way. Recently, a writer for the BBC made the same claim about his sexual orientation; it is his choice.
We should take responsibility for our lives, and I strongly disagree with people who don’t. There is no hope in passive surrender to this world.
I disagree with someone, and now back to Minneapolis and the man with the pellet gun. He was practicing and it was only a matter of time before he graduated to a larger caliber, and aimed higher. All he needed was permission from people like me.
That patterns is everywhere today, dangerous people look to a silent majority for permission. The man with the pellet gun looked to Christians who disapprove, so he could start shooting.
When I disagree with anyone, I can’t express hatred. Someone could take that as permission to act, and the next weapon will not be a pellet gun aimed at legs. We can disagree, but we can’t hate. Someone could do terrible things, in your name.
God’s old way is always an amazing new revolution:
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6: 14 and 15)
We only forgive people who are wrong. And these are God’s words before those forgiveness words:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9 to 13)