Saturday, February 21, 2015

What is hate?

What is hate?

The word is used too loosely. It’s used to describe feelings about food. “I hate liver and onions.” In these parts, Bronco fans “hate” the Raiders. My Denver daughter “hates” the traffic.

Dictionaries teach hate is a deep, emotional, extreme dislike. That doesn’t fit speaking about liver, rival sports teams or traffic jams. Sigmund Freud took it more seriously. Freud studied the use of words in human intercourse. He defined “hate” as a deep desire to destroy the cause of one’s unhappiness.

Hate is a "deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person, group, or object,” according to one Dictionary of Psychology. It sees “hate” as more of a disposition than a temporary emotional state.

Like many “dispositions” it’s easier to see it in others than in ourselves. Take the current debate over the question of whether the law should permit employers to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bi-sexual or transgender people.

SF 115 seeks to protect LGBT workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill has wide support from groups including the Wyoming Business Alliance and the Wyoming Association of Municipalities; but not from the Catholic Church.
Dr. Donna M. Adler is the communication director in the Office of the Legislative Liaison for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne. On the eve of the state senate’s vote on the bill, Adler sent an email to all lawmakers.
She used the term “hate” to substantiate a claim that, while the Church opposes prohibiting job-discrimination, “the Roman Catholic Church does not hate people who identify as having attractions not in line with their biology.” Adler called the people she says the Church doesn’t hate “disordered.” She said the human beings the law seeks to protect are “engaging in seriously sinful behavior.”
The basis for the official Catholic view arises from a literal interpretation of scripture, which it seeks to impose on all of us. The 18th chapter of Leviticus quotes God admonishing Jewish men not to have sex with other men. That which God imposed on Jews, some Catholics would impose on everyone. Then God said, “Everyone who does any of these detestable things, such persons must be cut off from their people.” Adler and her immediate supervisors, which apparently don’t include Pope Francis, see their responsibility is to make certain that’s exactly what happens to LGBT folks.
Aside from a questionable interpretation of scripture, the position of the Diocese of Cheyenne calls into question the meaning of “hate.” They support the idea that some people should be denied their livelihoods because they are LGBT. The Diocese defines those folks as “disordered.” They judge them as “seriously sinful.” But Adler says the Catholic Church does not hate them. It just wants to cut them off from their jobs.
Is the definition of “hate” really that complicated? Is the definition of “hate” so obtuse that it can be used, as Adler does, to support discrimination that results in the loss of a person’s livelihood?
We’ve become accustomed to using the “H” word so loosely we don’t recognize its real impact when people with power have the disposition to hate. When some exhibit a “deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person or group,” do we let them off the hook when they claim that otherwise hateful acts are not “hate”? 

Truthfully, we must call it what it is. It’s hate. The Church disguises its disdain for the LGBT community behind an incongruously professed “compassion” for those they believe to be disordered and sinful. That’s fine inside the Cathedral walls. From the pulpit, the Church should teach what it believes. But when they walk out those doors and head to the state capitol, the disguise should be seen for what it is.

While your theology may permit you to claim you love those against whom you seek to “cut off from their people” the state legislature is a place where such a specious religious arguments must be rejected.

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