“And don't hit your brother.”
“It's not fair! You hate me! You never let me do anything.”
I hear the word “hate” being thrown around a lot lately, particularly in the context of people rebuking Christians for our often socially unpopular standpoint on a number of subjects. Lately the issue of gay marriage, along with other issues like abortion and euthanasia, but these are only the issues that are in the spotlight at the moment, there have been plenty of others and no doubt there will be more.
My dictionary defines “to hate” as: “to feel intense or passionate dislike for something or someone.” In the little dialogue I created above, the child accuses the parent of hating her; of being hateful. But any adult will recognise that the parent in this situation is actually showing love to the child. They are trying to teach them in this case to eat foods that are good for their body and to control their emotions rather than lash out in anger and hurt people nearby.
These are good and important lessons for the child, but to the child they just look like a curtailing of her personal freedom. In her state of immaturity, she is not fully aware of the physical and social consequences this kind of behaviour will have on her future, she has no frame of reference for that kind of thinking.
Proverbs 3:11f : "My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights."
1 Corinthians 13:9-12: "Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely."
If we put God in the role of the parent in the dialogue, we find the scene to be uncomfortably familiar. God comes along and, through Christ and his Church, He proclaims to humanity, “I love you, but you must know that your behaviour is sinful and destructive. You need to change.”