One of the great errors of today’s sloganeering society is the demand we choose love or hate. Hate is when you don’t accept a person as they are, or something. Love is when you let the person be who they are, or something.
But love and hate are – to borrow another vogue word – binaries. They’re two sides of the same coin. Hate is a by-product of love; it grows because of love. And, yes, violence can grow out of hate. Jesus actually tells us plainly we must hate: “If any man comes to me, without hating his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yes, and his own life too, he can be no disciple of mine” (Luke 14:26). Obviously, this is a rhetorical device, because scripture itself confirms these natural loves. St. Ambrose explains this verse in that very way, that submitting to the truth as revealed by nature means that we must submit ultimately to “the Author of nature, and depart not from God out of love for parents.”
In other words, we hate the things that threaten what we love and cherish. As Jesus says, where our treasure us there too is our heart, and the treasures in our breasts direct our firsts; we’ll strike our own heart with a fist when we violate it and we’ll strike another for the same reason. I hate, therefore, the man that enters my house to do violence to my family.
This is also why St. Thomas Aquinas lists hatred of God as a “daughter” of lust. Such hatred flows from lust because lust pulls love down from its thrown and mires it in self-focused pleasure, instead of tempering it toward the common and individual good. God, by being the author of pleasure and thereby having the audacity to define its limits and direction becomes the object of hate.
As an aside, the opposite of love is indifference. To have no fight in you is to have no love in you. The opposite of love is not a fist of anger, but a shrug and “whatever.” There’s no fight because there’s nothing worth fighting for. The question of disordered love, however, is a worthy one – whether we love the right things in the right ways. Back to the coin of love/hate: There simply are things in life that cannot be loved at the same time – we must “hate the one and love the other” (Matt. 6:24). To discern what we really love we can discern what gets our blood boiling. Does the thought of someone disrespecting you totally derail your inner peace? Losing money? Position?
A man sliding into pornography does not look to the crucifix on the wall as the website loads, because in that moment he hates the God who denies him what he will not deny himself. Later he may repent and hate that same website, but this reveals the insecurity and instability of his inner man and the need to mature in love, not merely grow in discipline. In Fraternus, when we try to hone a virtue like fortitude, we are careful to note why we have fortitude. What brings it to life. If we lack the endurance to live a life of virtue, we must turn inward to see what is enthroned in our heart. If love animates our virtues, which it must to be Christian virtue, our endurance will not be for the sake of discipline itself, but for love. When our fortitude is lacking, we need to hate better. And to hate better, we need to beg God to increase our love for what is good, true, and beautiful – we need a greater love of God Himself. The fortitudinous man endures for what he loves.
Love well and you’ll hate well.