Learning to Love Who We Hate

I hate Donald Trump.

That’s not hard for me to say, and I don’t even feel bad for saying it. I hate Donald Trump. I hate what he stands for. I hate the things that he says. I hate the things that he does. I hate the people that he puts into power. I hate looking at his face. I hate hearing his voice.

To me, he is exactly what I was taught Anti-Christ would be. He’s a power-hungry dictator, who basks in the mindless worship and adulation of his followers. He’s a corrupt man, who has made millions by mistreating and oppressing his workers. He’s a sexual predator, who brags openly about groping, objectifying, and forcing himself on women. He’s a charlatan, who uses the name of Christ to bring Christians – people who should know better – into his fold.

But, why do I hate him so much?

The world is filled with dictators, corrupt businessmen, predators, and charlatans. The Church Universal is filled with wolves in sheep’s clothing, men who spread hatred and falsehoods from pulpits.

I don’t hate all of them. I fought against foreign insurgents, who were supposedly in service to a brutal dictator. But, I didn’t hate them or the dictator himself.

I have met with and counseled people who have committed sexual crimes against women – against children – and I didn’t hate them.

I have known megalomaniacs and narcissists, people whose entire world consisted of their own desires, and I didn’t hate them.

What is it about the 45th President of the United States that makes him so different?

It has taken me almost a year to figure it all out, to put it into words.

I hate Donald Trump because he is my enemy.

As a former soldier, I should know what enemies are, and I should be familiar with having enemies. But, I never considered those insurgents or that dictator to be my enemies. They were men and women in service to a cause that they saw as right, just as I was. They were my foes out of necessity, but I never really saw them as enemies.

Donald Trump hates me. He hates people that I love. He hates ideals that I have dedicated my life to. He is doing everything that he can to hurt people who are already hurting: to ensure that sick people stay sick, poor people stay poor, and imprisoned people remain imprisoned. The Good News that I have dedicated myself to preaching, the uplifting of the poor and oppressed, the freedom of the captives, stands in opposition to his goals and actions.

He is the Captor, the Oppressor, the Accuser, the Adversary.

He is my enemy.

Jesus is very clear about enemies.

I once self-righteously preached about love for enemies, because I had yet to meet an enemy that I really hated. Intellectually, I knew that this was a hard teaching, but it wasn’t hard for me.

My discipleship has suffered mightily during the reign of Trump, because I have not been able to fulfill this basic command of Jesus: 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36)

How the hell am I supposed to love Donald Trump? How am I supposed to love the Confederate-flag-waving racists and swastika-wearing neo-Nazis? How am I supposed to love the wealthy politicians whose every vote is a big “f**k you” to the poor? How am I supposed to have any kind of good feeling about these monstrous people?

I don’t have to feel anything.

Loving your enemies has nothing to do with feeling a certain way about them. Loving your enemies doesn’t mean letting them harm others without interference.

Loving your enemies doesn’t mean passively accepting the evil that they do.

I can love Donald Trump best by protecting his soul from the evil that his corrupt and twisted mind would have him do. I can love Donald Trump by protecting his victims.

I don’t have to send him Christmas cards or say nice things about him. I don’t even have to pray that God blesses him.

I do have to make sure that the revulsion that I feel when I think of him doesn’t turn into a desire for vengeance against his person. I have to make sure that I don’t wish the harm that he does to others on him.

I don’t have to accept who he is or what he does.

I just have to find a way to make my love stronger than what I feel.

I don’t know how, but I don’t think that following Jesus requires a perfect understanding. I think that following Jesus requires a willingness to learn more each day.

“Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly before God.”