You Hate Me! The New "You Hate Me!"


Several years back, a friend asked my wife and me to sit for his kids for an evening. One of his children, a boy, was about 4 or 5 at the time, and proved to be a handful. He and his younger sister teamed up to create quite a bit of chaos. At one point, after he had repeatedly either done or attempted to do something that was not allowed (dangerous, destructive, disobedient, disrespectful), I picked him up, carried him to his bedroom, and confined him there for breach of contract until an agreement could be reached.  As I was closing the door he said “Dan… must really hate me.”     Clever boy.

 I don’t know if that had worked for him before, but, relatively inexperienced as I was, it nearly worked on me. “Hate you?” I said. “Do you really think I would be protecting you from yourself if I hated you? If I hated you, I wouldn’t be here, and likely wouldn’t concern myself with the prospect of you falling off of the coffee table and cracking your head open.” Then I stopped talking because it occurred to me that he knew very well that I didn’t hate him. It was a tactic. I suppose that from his 5-year-old perspective there may have been a connection between opposition and a lack of affection, but he did understand, at the very least, that his own parents loved him, and the rules I was enforcing were their rules. Many of us, I suspect, can remember an instance or two (or two hundred) in our own childhoods in which we resisted restraint because we had a completely undeveloped understanding of what parental love really means. I also suspect that many of us only come to fully appreciate the connection between love and opposition when we find ourselves blessed with children of our own.

 The parent- child relationship is one of many contexts in which the idea that opposition or disagreement = hatred is shown to be ridiculous. If you are concerned with the limits of the parent-child analogy, perhaps this one rings more true- “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

Imagine this-

  • Person A- “Hey, I think X has had too much to drink, and he is getting ready to drive himself home….”
  • Person B-  “Well… whatever you do, don’t try to stop him or say anything to him. That would be hateful.”

    Or perhaps this makes more sense- “If you see something, SAY something.” I saw this sign in an airport within a few years of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The intent of the sign was to encourage everyone to be more aggressive in reporting anything suspicious- including the actions of others. The fundamental idea is doing/saying nothing in response to something that may represent a threat to our society is unacceptable.

    The truth is, those who are trying to sell the idea that voicing opposition to the ideas or actions of others equals an expression of hatred are selling a preposterous idea. Don’t buy it.

    It only works because it is disarmingly violent. When my 5-year-old friend suggested that my restraint of him was evidence of my hate for him, I was definitely unsettled. My immediate response was kind of a shocked protest. It hit a nerve. What a terrible thing to say. He was angry and may have been feeling a little hateful himself, but, I think, he knew better (from experience) than to say so.

    Culturally, today, “You must hate me” is increasingly becoming the response of choice for those who are feeling hateful themselves. Admitting hate is not culturally acceptable, but blasting any opponent with the charge of being hateful seems now to be the “go to” argument when logic and reason are no help for one’s position.

    “You hate me” is much more likely, today, to be reflective of the heart of the accuser than the heart of the accused. Remember this, Christians, and don’t be disarmed by it. Standing for truth takes both love and courage. Speak the truth in love- Eph. 4:15. Put on your armor, and stand- Eph. 6:13. Confronting error with truth is the action of a friend, not that of an enemy- Gal 4:16    Dan Starr