Hating and Liking and Loving in the 21st Century

Hate isn’t what it used to be. But neither is “like” or “love.”

I was greeted the other morning with news that I had a new twitter follower. The name was “I follow hate,” with the explanation “I like to follow people that follow hate groups. Jesus taught us to love, why do some people insist on using his name to justify hate?”

Yikes, I thought: Did I inadvertently follow a hate group? But clicking onto the profile of “I follow hate” I learned that the problem wasn’t with me, but with this person’s definition of hate. To “I follow hate” Catholics are haters because of what the Church teaches about homosexuality (which, in brief, is “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. … Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”)

This person had the liberal-bumper-sticker definition of hate. The one that thinks it necessary to remind Christians that “Hate is not a family value,” and that sums up the support of Proposition 8 in California (which defined marriage the way all thriving cultures and all major religions have for all time) as “H8.”

To hate something used to mean to have “a strong aversion” to it. But marriage supporters have no aversion to homosexuals as such. They listen to Elton John, they find Ellen Degeneres charming and are glad Ian McKellan played Gandalf. They just don’t want to change the definition of marriage to include anything but the procreative, unitive, family-building relationship it was invented to encourage and sustain. That’s hate. Who knew? (To see just how much some homosexuals hate this kind of “hate,” be forewarned about the language and click here.)

And “hate” isn’t the only disposition that is being redefined. “Like” is too. Like used to mean “to be pleased with in a moderate degree.”

Now it means much, much more. Of course, it means “said” (He was like, “Were you looking at me?”), it is an adverb (I, like, could not stop laughing) and it’s a qualifier, (I was, like, totally out of it.)

But even when it is used in ways more like its original sense, “like” has changed.  On the Internet to push the “like” button often means, “I define myself as a person who is committed to this thing.” Somehow, in a generation, the “thumbs-up” of the Fonz transferred to Siskel and Ebert then to Facebook — and redefined “like” in the culture at large.

If you are a diehard Patriots fan you say, “I like the Patriots” and if you say, “I always liked Obama,” it is assumed you thereby bind your soul to all that he stands for. But this is a junior-high understanding of “like,” not a Merriam-Webster one. “Do you like Suzy?” to a Junior High school student means “Are you starry-eyed head-over-heels in love with Suzy?”

Which brings us, at last, to love.

Love is a famously redefined word. C.S. Lewis catalogued its meaning in his day, but it seems like each generation has its own new definition of love.

“He’s making violent love to me,” in It’s a Wonderful Life means “He is courting me energetically.” But in the post-rock-and-roll world that meaning is utterly changed. From Elvis’ “Burning Love” to Beyonce’s “Love on Top,” pop culture emphasizes love’s physical connotations.

But in our world so aware of 12 steps programs, interventions, and “Tough love” in general, we have also rediscovered the more nuanced meaning of love.

We hear things like: “If you truly love your friend, you will confront her about her bad relationship.” “I love you, man, so I’m not going to let you do this.” “If you love your kids, you will teach them not to smoke.”

We now know more than ever that it is possible to reject the sin but love the sinner. In fact, if the sin is personally injurious, it’s hardly possible to approve the sin if you love the sinner.

So, my end-of-Advent message today is: “Like” your enemies, save your “love” for your spouse, and “hate” the ones you love to tell them the dangers of “love!”



  • Logike

    Tom, you should write an article about this tiring, overused, fallacious “appeal to pity” used by supporters of gay “marriage.” We see it everywhere, including here. Not once have I heard a solid rational argument for this conception of marriage, when there remains plenty of arguments against it. I only see emotionally charged begging-the-question appeals to “gay marriage rights”–the very thing needing proof.

  • Logike

    Sam says, “My gay neighbors that are raising 5 children are way more qualified to be married than my wife and I who can not have children because she has lupus.” Sorry to hear about your wife. But I fail to see how your incapacity to “procreate” means you are less qualified to “raise” a child. And even if you WERE less qualified than your homosexual neighbors next door (which is debatable), how does that amount to an argument FOR same-sex marriage, much less the permissibility of sodomy, not to mention that the government possesses a “duty” to sanction gay sex, thereby forcing every religious-based organization against its better judgment to recognize this behavior as “valid”? Without coming up with a moral rationale for government sanction of this “union” while begging the question by appealing to “civil rights,” it is better to leave the government out of our social insitutions. Legalizing sodomy (which has already been done) is not the same thing as protecting this behavior by enshrining in Law as “normal.” Getting drunk all the time because you’re an alcoholic is also legal, but that doesn’t make getting drunk normal or acceptable.

  • Hector

    I have to second Andrea’s comments this is a good article by Tom. Lot’s of people calling themselves “Catholic” and pretty much missing some major doctrine regarding marriage and sexuality. One needs to simply pick up the Catechism and Holy Bible and the answers on the Church’s teachings are right there plain as day.

    Disagreement is apparently hate in the eyes to those who don’t agree with them nowadays. Tom made his point pretty succinctly. Just because people are against the definition of marriage being changed doesn’t mean they “hate” you. Its also hard to pull the “intolerant” card also, since those who disagree with SSM actually live in a secular cultural dominated by a relativistic viewpoint towards sex. Everyone on all sides of the debate is pretty well verse and knowledgeable of this since we ALL live in this culture. I would challenge those who don’t agree with Tom, myself, and others to actually learn about the Catholic faith, its teachings, culture and then form your opinion. You’ll at least see/understand where we’re coming from.

    I’ve also been lambasted by this same twitter user for sometime. Who ever it is, tries to bully and intimidate everyone against them into accepting their viewpoint. They just try to act like a parasite and try to kill you from within by using SSM cliches ad nauseum until you give up. That works on a few people but not on the whole. If I was a leader of any movement this strategy is completely ineffective and just emboldens the opposing side.

    The SSM crowd will eventually die out like any other self-seeking political or cultural movement, since its primary source and core comes from the self or individual. You can read throughout history how any of these movements either falls to an even more powerful force which destroys it or implodes from within.

  • Andrea M.

    Great article and so to the point! Lots of ignorance of Catholicism here in the comments though. I’m thinking this sort of proves your point about our culture, sadly. I truly HATE ignorance, especially when it comes to our Blessed Church. Thanks Tom! St. Padre Pio, pray for us!

  • David

    Tom, do you agree that civil marriage provides important protections and benefits to straight couples that are married? Marriage provides both an emotional benefit from the security it brings as well as financial benefits. Married couples live longer, have more wealth, an enjoy legal protections and benefits from our government. Marriage is oftentimes much more than this, but certainly you agree with these basic benefits. If this is true, then doesn’t denying marriage to gay couples that want to get married harm them on some level? Additionally, the way we (i mean Catholics) have gone about “protecting” marriage has certainly caused harm. It’s no small secret that the church and Knights of Columbus have millions to the Prop 8 campaign in California. Those commercials claimed gay people were a “gathering storm” and a “threat to society”. How would you feel if you saw commercials every 30 minutes making such claims against Catholics? Instead of talking about marriage, Prop 8 was simply a smear campaign against gay people. The results were clear: a 200% rise in hate crimes against gay people followed, teen suicides increased, and a study found a 50% increase in mental stress to gay people and increase in those seeking counseling. Perhaps marriage was worth the damage we inflicted on gay people, but certainly you can see how they view these actions. As hate.

    • Tom Hoopes

      What does “marriage” mean? If it’s me telling the state “Tom loves April!” then you are exactly right. If it’s the state encouraging the behavior needed to bond my generation to the next, then it needs to be restricted. ………. Granting official Valentines is not the government’s business. Securing the next generation is. ………. Insofar as forces want to change my marriage from the institution it has always been into an official government valentine, yes, I feel like that threatens me. ……… The homosexual people themselves? I don’t know anyone who thinks of they themselves as a gathering storm.

      • Sean

        According to “the knot”, the most commonly used marriage vows for civil ceremonies are “I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband. Before these witnesses I vow to love you and care for you for as long as we both shall live.”, so I would say that the “civil marriage” means that one person loves another person AND vows to take care of each other for life. Is it your point that these marriage vows don’t accurately reflect what the majority of Americans consider marriage?

        • Tom Hoopes

          There are lots of people who commit to taking care of other people they love: daughters to moms, aunts to in-laws, senior citizens to other senior citizens, roommate care for roommates; I know of one household where an immigrant looks after a much older man as she awaits citizenship. …………. None of these is “marriage.” That institution was established to protect a certain loving, exclusive, indissoluble procreative relationship because our future is dependent on it.

          • Frank

            Tom, so you support banning infertile and old couples from marriage in order to protect what marriage was “established” for? If a couple marries and plans to never have kids, I assume that you support the state forcibly divorcing them? I think your argument is false on a number of levels and is simply a thinly veiled excuse to support discrimination against gay people. Interestingly enough, these are never the arguments that are used in campaigns to defend marriage either, as everyone knows that they are false. Instead, we resort to negative campaigns about immoral gays that are based on stereotypes and prejudice. You have to understand the inherent disconnect there, right?

          • Tom Hoopes

            That some couples who can’t have children get married doesn’t change the purpose of the institution of marriage any more than the purpose of educational institutions have been changed by the fact that some men who can’t teach have become teachers, or that some teachers have retained their teacher salary after retiring, or that some people work at the school in other capacities. …………………………… What would change the institution of education is if you forced courts and teachers unions to call all museum docents “teachers” and treat them as such. To do so would not simply “allow more educators to benefit from teacher status.” It would redefine “teacher.” …………………….. “Teacher” would become essentially meaningless. A lot of good people might feel better served about being called “teachers.” Actual teachers shouldn’t feel better.

          • Sam

            I think this issue is important, but I think this article and these comments are exactly what is wrong with this discussion. I will keep these comments to a response to this comment. First, marriage has never been about procreation. When I married my wife in our church, my marriage vows – written by me with our priest – said nothing about children. I promised to love her, support her, build a life with her, and protect her, and cherish her. When our friends gave toasts at the reception, they spoke about our life together, our love for each other, and our commitment to each other. Second, even if “securing the next generation” to their parents is the purpose of marriage, then my gay neighbors that are raising 5 children are way more qualified to be married than my wife and I who can not have children because she has lupus. In that sense, the gay couple raising children are more like “teachers” and we are more like “docents”, but by your logic, the state and out church calls us “teachers”, and makes them become “docents” – it’s so nonsensical that it’s embarassing. Third, even if you get beyond all the nonsense in your responses, there clearly is no harm done to me if my neighbors can get married. It doesn’t prevent straight couples from being married. You think it changes the meaning of the word, I disagree – I think it makes the word more meaningful. But by your logic, the definition of the word is so important that it’s worth the damage that depriving gay couples of the rights and benefits that are legally associated with that word. In essence, you’ve decided that protecting that word is more important than the people that are harmed by their exclusion from it. I think that’s really sad and following much reflection this season, I think Jesus would not recognize this world where his name and teachings are used as an excuse for harming others.

          • Logike

            Sam, the fact of the matter is that there is simply no reason for the State to be issuing full marriage benefits to anyone (including sterile heterosexuals) unless there is some rationale for it with respect to social utility and the overall public good (e.g., charities, public schools). If there is no foreseeable publice good that comes from the government sanctioning an association between two or more individuals, then the State has no interest in supporting that association in the first place (including the institution of marriage if that were the case). But in the case of heterosexual marriage, procreation is vital to the state’s continuance and growth, because children are the next generation of workers and taxpayers. This gives the state a compelling interest to create incentives for procreation with benefits like additional tax deductions or legal rights. What makes heterosexual couples uniquely eligible for these benefits is that they—unlike gay couples—can procreate.

            IF there were some public good (other than children) which comes from the association between two or more homosexuals, I could see justification for the State sanctioning that association on THOSE GROUNDS, not merely because that association is an instance of “homosexual love.” (Maybe because these homosexuals are forming a charity group?) But where procreation is the criterion for full marriage benefits, it makes sense to deny those benefits to gay couples–and not just gay couples, mind you, but also heterosexual couples that are unwilling or unable to procreate. An important caveat follows from this: We encourage heterosexual marriage knowing that it can, naturally, lead to procreation, even if we don’t “force” them to do it. So just because the ability to procreate is a criterion for the government to recoginze two people as married, actually having children (or continue reproducing) is not a criterion for “staying” married. In other words, though the government has an interest in creating incentives for people to procreate, it DOESN’T have an interest in penalizing people for NOT procreating (the large and expensive bureacracy needed to monthly or annually ensure whether heterosexuals are reproducing as a condition of keeping their marriage valid would be ridiculously self-defeating and expensive). Furthermore, though failing to procreate is not a reason to dissolve a marriage once it has been formed, failing to procreate is not a reason for sanctioning a sterile marriage (homosexual, heterosexual, or otherwise) either–contrary to what you suppose.

            So is this indirect benefit inconsistent with how the government operates in other “social engineering” projects? Absolutely not! For instance, we are now forcing people to buy health insurance, but we aren’t forcing them to get preventative care (which is the object of the government’s incentive). We provide a tax deduction to people for donating to charity, even if that charity is not something that always helps our country in any way (just look at some “charities”). We provide a mortgage tax deduction because home ownership is good for a stable society, but we don’t limit it only to people who are living within their means. There are many examples of the this…

          • Logike

            Sam says, “marriage has never been about procreation.” But this is false. Anthropologists will tell you that in nearly all cultures throughout the world, marriage is a way of ensuring exclusive rights over sex and offspring, as well as how property is distributed with respect to that offspring. The institution as such has very little meaning without the notion of “family.” In fact, creating a family through marriage is precisely what most human societies do with this institution. This is the Norm.

          • Logike

            Sam says, “marriage has never been about procreation.” But this is false. Anthropologists will tell you that in nearly all cultures throughout the world, marriage is a way of ensuring exclusive rights over sex and offspring, as well as how property is distributed with respect to that offspring. The institution as such has very little meaning without the notion of “family.” In fact, creating a family through marriage is precisely what most human societies do with this institution. This is the Norm. Exceptions to this rule (which are very rare indeed) are no more “normal” than cannibalism is “normal.”

    • Logike

      Let’s correct your facts. Marriage provides a emotional benefits for heterosexual couples, sure, but I am not aware of any nationwide statistics on the health-benefits of Gay Marriage. From what I understand, Gay people have a terrible track-record with promiscuity, depression, and partner violence in relationships, far worse than heterosexuals. See http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=IS04C02 Promiscuity is also a large part of the homsexual lifestyle, and a disproportionate numbers of them think monogamy in marriage is “optional.” Furthermore, with some exceptions, looking at the Stats in Western Europe and Canada shows that only around 1-2% of gays got married after it was legalized; very few of them care for the institution anyway. http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/zsasxmar.HTM So thinking that granting homosexual “marriage” is going to change this trend in homosexual “unhappiness” is both naive and contrary to the facts. They simply don’t care to change, and there is absolutely no substantiated links between homosexual marriage and happiness anyway. And which study says hate crimes against gays rose a full 200% in the aftermath of Prop 8? I found this instead: “Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Jay Boyarsky attributed a surge in anti-gay hate crimes, from 3 in 2007 to 14 in 2008, to controversy over Proposition 8.” Though that is a lamentable %400-%500 increase, your numbers are too small (and restricted to the city of Santa Clara) for this “increase” to indicate anything at all. And in 2007-2008, the FBI reported nationwide a 6%-17% increase in hate crimes against LGBT people–not a whopping 200%! But none of these statistics are reliable anyway! The problem is that these particular FBI statistics are virtually useless for evaluating year-to-year trends. The FBI itself went out of its way to warn against such readings, stating “our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program doesn’t report trends in hate crime stats—yearly increases or decreases often occur because the number of agencies who report to us varies from year to year.”

      Please see the various reasons why these statistics don’t show anything: http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/blog/2009/11/23/the-annual-misuse-of-hate-crime-statistics/



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