Three men were recently found guilty of committing a hate crime for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, after attempting a citizens arrest that resulted in Arbery being shot. Last year, Brandon Elliot was arrested after assaulting an Asian woman in New York City. He has been charged with second degree assault and first degree attempted assault, both as hate crimes. Just last week, the victim of another violent assault died from his injuries. The suspect is being charged with second degree murder as a hate crime.
The FBI defines a hate crime as, a
“criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/civil-rights/hate-crimes
What ought to be the Christian perspective on hate crimes? We should hate them, of course, but we should disprove of this novel legal category for reasons both theological and pragmatic.
Murder Is Murder
What separates man from beast is being made in God’s Image. Theologically, it is offensive to wrong our neighbor because he bears the Image of God (Gen. 1:26).
Consider two scenarios: a man murders a woman because she is Black, and another man murders a woman because she rejected him. The first man will face longer sentencing due to a judicial ruling that says crimes against immutable characteristics are more heinous than crimes resulting from personal action.
But both women are dead, and one is dead because she would not be coerced into giving herself over to a man against her will.
According to the law, murdering her wasn’t “as bad.”
The Commandment “though shalt not murder” does not distinguish between murdering someone because they rejected you and murdering someone because of their skin color or sexual preferences. To elevate these categories above all others means we are no longer looking at people according to Whose Image they bear. Categorizing murder based on the victim’s religion, skin color, or sexual preferences is a secular, materialistic way of evaluating crime. It is not a biblical evaluation of crime.
Idolatry of Race, Gender
Hate crimes are demonstrative that the God Who made the heavens in the earth is not in the minds of the legislatures ruling us. They have instead erected their own idols: Race, Sex, Gender, (some) Religions.
To attack a person’s race or sexual preference is to attack God. That is why they tack on their own “blasphemy law” to people who commit crimes on those basis. One could almost argue that Christians supporting hate crimes are guilty of idolatry.
The Slippery Slope of Hate Crime to Hate Speech
There are pragmatic reasons why Christians should be terrified of hate crimes.
The establishment of hate crimes gives more precedence for the establishment of hate speech. If society can isolate skin, sex, and religion as a basis for judging the value of their life, banning speech against those traits isn’t far behind.
With sad irony, we will cancel our religion in the name of protecting religion. Hate crimes and hate speech are the runway to making Christianity illegal. We will no longer be allowed to say with the Apostle Paul,
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Under hate speech laws, can you call homosexuality sin? Can you preach the Gospel to homosexuals, promising them the cleansing of sin through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ? No, that will be a hate speech, which can then be charged as a hate crime.
Hate crimes make the Gospel illegal. And we cannot be so gullible as to assume our powers that be aren’t capable of knowing this.
I hate hate crimes. The very name angers me. If we are thinking biblically, all crimes are hate crimes. Every act of sin and offense against our neighbors is an act of hate.
We have no need of hate crimes; the very phrase is redundant. Murder is wicked; it is sin. And it is equally wicked whether the victim is murdered on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, covetousness, envy, anger, or greed.
No matter the motivation, murder is wicked because all men and women, regardless of the idolatry of the state’s categorizations, bear the image of God.
Christians should hate hate crimes. They should hate all crimes.
Categories: Resisting the Winds