Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

My friends and I were discussing the recent Boston Marathon bombing. The topic of whether or not a Christian can hate terrorists arose. Is it OK to hate a terrorist?

Sincerely, Trisha

Dear Trisha,

As I peruse the Bible, based upon what it says about God's character, I'd have to say that it is OK to hate terrorists.

A number of passages refer to actions that God hates. Not only does He hates these detestable activities, the bible records that He also hates the ones who perpetrate them.

Proverb 6:16-19 is one example:

There are six things the Lordhates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Proverb 11:5 is another example:

The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.

Let me include Malachi 2:14-16  God talks about the treacherous ill treatment that a husband gives to the wife of his youth, his companion and the wife of his covenant:

God says, "I hate divorce and I hate a man covering his wife with violence" (this is the alternative translation in the KJV). While not stating here specifically that He hates the man who physically abuses his wife, it is certainly implied by the context as we read the behaviors that God hates throughout the entire Book of Malachi.

“The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.

(By the way, consider that hitting and abusing a wife is justification for her getting a divorce. A husband like this has violated his marriage covenant to care for, protect his wife and to love her as Jesus loves His church according to Ephesians 5:20-33).

Notice that all of these passages are from the Old Testament. The focus in the New Testament is more on God's love for sinners than His hating the unrighteous. This is a paradox. We will attempt to unravel the contorted thread in a moment.

Do you realize that there are over 100 different definitions for "Who is a terrorist?” and/or "What is terrorism?” Neither the international community nor the United Nations can agree on a proper definition. Definitions run the gamut from car bombings, to the Nicaraguan Contra freedom fighters, to totalitarian governments, just to name three.

The concept of terrorism may be practiced by state authorities to delegitimize political or other opponents, and to potentially legitimize the state's own use of armed force against opponents (such use of force may be described as "terror" by opponents of the state--think Syria).