Our Love / Hate Relationships

Sometimes we have to be pushed off a cliff in order to learn that we have a parachute – and that we need to use it. Sometimes the things we fear stare us down until we have no choice but to face them. And some people drive us crazy in two opposite directions.

Many a parent has said to a particularly challenging child: “I hope you have a dozen just like yourself!” Such a sentiment is expressed out of intense exasperation while betraying the depths of love we have for those we are willing to sacrifice for. We are in a political season where the same people are both driving me crazy and inspiring in me deeper personal reflection.

Take, for example, Donald Trump. As I have listened to him and read what he writes I find him to be a bigoted bully, a wall-builder rather than a solution-seeker. I’m not interested in hearing him speak or debate anymore, but I find myself loving to read the articles, Facebook posts.

And how about the media – whether “Main Stream” or Fox News – pick the one you hate and I bet you love trash talking about it.

I haven’t quite figured out what to do with those “Spiritual-But-Not-Religious” folks yet. Some days I love their critique of “organized religion”. Other days, I just wish they would stop being interviewed on Fresh Air and On Being long enough to come to church.

What about zoning and building regulations? Where I live – in a “historical district” in Burlington, VT – we can’t hardly spit in our backyard without a permit. I hate that. But then, I wish people needed a permit to throw cigarette butts on the ground. HateI’d love that.

Then there is school – there seems to be lots of love/hate stuff going on there – Common Core; the Admission Process for getting into college and then, once accepted, the cost of tuition.  And computers. And cell phones. And cars – or transportation in general. Travel by airplane brings out love and hate in people. The health care system. The length of the presidential primary season. I’ll bet the list of things, policies, and people that generate a mix of love / hate in you could go on for some time.

Sinners. There is an interesting category. You know how people spout about hating the sin but loving the sinner. People we purport to love while hating what they do don’t usually feel the “love” we say we have for them.

No such list as has been compiled thus far would be complete without Jesus. And the main problem we have with Jesus is his apparent lack of hate. Yes, he did criticize people. He got angry with some. but hate?

Jesus did warn people who wanted to follow him that the world would have a “love / hate” relationship with them. He did give his disciples permission to shake the dust of a people or a town’s disdain for them off their feet; but he never said it would be OK to hate them. And that is part of the problem. I have to admit there are times I wish I had never heard of Jesus. Trust God, he says. Forgive enemies. Don’t get angry. Love your neighbor. And what about this one: Don’t worry about tomorrow. Today has troubles enough of its own. Tell me … how is that supposed to make me feel better?

Love – not the kind that Sarah has for Donald or that Donald has for winning … but the kind that Christ has for me and you. The kind that is disarmingly honest, deeply true, and redemptive at a soul level. The kind that casts out fear rather than fueling it. It seems that today, especially in the politics of our country, that is a love that people hate.



Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.