A hate crime (also known as a bias-motivated crime) is a prejudice-motivated crime, often violent, which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership (or perceived membership) in a certain social group.
I don’t really remember the first time I heard the term “Hate Crime” but I have grown accustom to hearing the phrase in the news, and sadly, I have grown callus toward the idea of one particular crime being labeled worse than another. I even remember saying, “All crime is a hate crime,” as a means to justify my own prejudices. I hadn’t realized the destructive power that labels and division actually had.
When I was younger I really struggled to find my own identity without excluding a different population.
If I found identity in being masculine, I struggled to properly recognize the value of women.
If I found identity in being white, I struggled to properly recognize the value of minority groups.
If I found identity in being raised in a Christian household, I struggled to recognize the value of people raised in other religious arenas.
It seemed as though for me to recognize myself, I had to draw a line of distinction between me and other people around me. I tried to rationalize this behavior by siting the presence of similar lines of distinction, which had been drawn by some of my friends who happened to be of a differing gender, ethnicity, or religious upbringing. And maybe from a human perspective that kind of distinction could be rationalized, but from a Biblical perspective, such distinctions cannot be made. From a Biblical perspective, all people were made in the image of God, all people were bought at a terrible price, and the purchaser has endowed extraordinary value to his children.
So what kinds of distinctions should we make as believers? Only those the Lord has made clear to us.
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
From the beginning, God has endowed humanity with a distinction that separated them from the rest of creation. This distinction was to recognize the fact that humans possessed a part of God that the rest of creation failed to have. This sliver of immortality made humanity unique among all its counterparts. We weren’t the biggest, strongest, cleverest, nor did we have the longest earthly life span, but we contained the capacity for eternal life, and the endowed image of God. As a result, we were given dominion over the earth, and charged with ruling it as stewards.
It’s funny how Genesis fails to reveal any kind of distinguishing characteristics about these first people. No mention of skin color, eye color, hair color, size, shape, build, intelligence, skill, aptitude, humor, or disposition. There were no separate languages, religions, races, ethnicities, cultures, or creeds. There was nothing but God and Man coexisting within the perfection of the garden.
Then something happened. Man made a distinction.
Man chose to neglect his God-given station as steward, and attempted to ascend to the throne himself. He attempted to be, as the serpent put it, “like God.” And when Man tried to define himself, outside the characteristics imputed to him upon his creation, he distinguished himself as a direct challenger to the throne of God. Man separated himself from God, and brought the Law into being, simply because he could not live within the designation God had given him.
Man labeled himself, Condemned.
The rest of the Old Testament reveals the compassionate and merciful nature of God, in that; God restrained his judgment for Man’s sin until the appointed time. A moment set apart since before time began. A moment when the Son of the Most High God would hang upon a Roman cross for the sins of Man.
Jesus Christ made his way from Heaven to Earth and endured the torment of crucifixion in order to remove the distinction that man brought upon himself.
God replaced the label of Condemned with Ransomed!
The only distinction I can find in the eyes of God today is one of inclusion or exclusion from the Body of Christ. However, the question of inclusion and exclusion depends upon the message of the Gospel from the mouths of men and women like you and me.
We are charged to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. (Matthew 28:19-20)
We are charged to embody the characteristics of the Gospel. (1 John 2:4)
We are described as being the Body of Christ on earth. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
We are given a distinct formula for Conduct (Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 5:44), which includes a willingness to die for the sake of others! (John 15:13)
So if anyone has yet to be Included into the Body of Christ, it is the distinct fault of Christians (like Me) who have failed to champion the liberating message of the Gospel to those who may not look, act, feel, think, or see like us.
The Church should be outraged by news of Hate Crimes, because such things should not exist within a world that has heard the Gospel!
Attacks upon humanity based on some human distinction like race, ethnicity, or even religious background fails to take into account the image these people have been given by their creator, and the price He paid to redeem them from their sin!
When someone is attacked because of their color, they are attacked because of a choice God made in creation. Such an attack is a challenge to the sovereignty of God.
When someone is attacked because of their religious background, they are attacked because of the failure of Christians to properly live out the Gospel.
But worst of all is when someone is attacked because of their sinful lifestyle. I find this particularly disturbing because I hear the Body of Christ attacking in this way more than any other. We attack Muslims, homosexuals, criminals, alcoholics, drug addicts, and even rapists and murderers, because they still are what we once were.
For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… Romans 3:22b-24
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8
Hate Crimes should outrage the church, because they are an indictment against us.