Sunday, April 13, 2014

Is disliking someone a judgmental act?

I've been wrestling with whether it is inherently wrong to dislike someone. If we are meant to love each other -- if love is the essence of God's law, so that love is the fulfillment -- then a lack of love has some connection to the root of sin. I am not concerned with the question of "lack of love" where it concerns people that we haven't met; it's not as though we dislike them. But to dislike someone that we know, I'm asking myself: is that sinful?

It's a tough topic. First, there is the possibility that someone might take that question as a cause for guilt, and be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the task considering the real-life sinners that we know. If someone is one of Jesus' people, then Jesus sets us free from guilt and judgment. But the question poses itself all the more clearly against the background of Jesus' love: Do we have any right to dislike another person? Beyond that, isn't it arrogant to dislike someone? So the question is meant not for guilt but for challenge, as a tool we can use to check ourselves if we find ourselves dwelling on how we don't like another person and why.

Another complication is about people who are doing wrong things; we don't want some misunderstanding about whether we support those things. The wrong doesn't have to be wrong on a grand scale; the everyday scale will do. For example, this morning I found myself struggling with unpleasant feelings for a family that has a history of unkindness to other people, and this morning took the "reserved" row where a handicapped child and his family normally sit. (The row is a little bit wider to make room for his walker. The row was marked off, as always, with a cord.) The handicapped child's family had some trouble to find another place besides their usual reserved place. And if the ushers didn't catch the situation in time, it really wasn't my place to say anything. But if it wasn't my place to say anything, was it my place to harbor an annoyance? (Along with noticing small wrongs, there is a temptation to be petty.) Then again, not all wrongs are small.

I won't pretend the topic is simple, easy, and clear to me. But I suspect that, in most cases, disliking someone is wrong.


John Flanagan said...

Yes, disliking someone is wrong. It is our fallen nature to do so. We need to want the best for people (salvation). And we need to ask God to forgive us when these feelings come.

Martin LaBar said...

I agree with Mr. Flanagan. Thanks for the post.

Weekend Fisher said...

I've got some confusion on the reactions here. On the one hand, I'm glad that you two believe that disliking someone is wrong, and I'm hoping that represents the general view of Christians.

But it does leave me wondering: why the lack of sermons about how disliking someone is wrong? Why does the average Christian feel so comfortable displaying their dislike for someone? Why so many Christian bloggers writing posts to display their dislike of people or groups they dislike?

If Christians in general are truly on board with the idea that it is wrong to dislike someone as a person, apart from selected actions -- then how does that happen that there are so many people displaying dislike without any hint of embarrassment or remorse?

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF