What do moral integrity, moral relativism, pragmatic reasoning, blame-shifting, selective outrage, deceit, conceit, self-rejection, fight-or-flight response, confirmation bias, jealousy, competitiveness, greed, and bigotry all have in common?
The answer: all of these psychological conditions have at their core the “love”-“hate” relationship.
Three Core Questions
To explore this further, I encourage you to take one or more of the examples above and ask the following three questions of each:
- At the core of this condition, what is it that is positively valued and “loved” by those who possess it?
- At the core of this condition, what is it that is negatively valued and “hated” by those who possess it (because those things oppose, threaten, and/or violate what is positively valued and loved?)
- How do these fundamental “love”-“hate” dynamics work to influence, shape, and define that specific condition?
If you take a few minutes with this, I think you’ll discover that with each example, there are fundamental values that are esteemed and embraced by those involved and that the love that is held for these values seeks to protect them from that which opposes, threatens, and/or violates them. This is the “love” dynamic. (For more on this, please see Part 1)
Furthermore, this protection comes in some “thorny” form of rejection of and/or separation from that which opposes, threatens, or violates what is valued and loved. This is the resultant “hate” dynamic. (For more on this, please see Part 2)
Working together, this “love”-“hate” dynamic is the primary force that creates, contours, and characterizes each of the examples given. It should be noted, additionally, that these are just a small sample of the many psychological conditions that this dynamic applies to for most psychological conditions known to man have buried deep within their core this “love”-“hate” dynamic duo! (For more on this, please read on!)
The “Love”-“Hate” Dynamic
“Love” and “hate” are opposites and yet in a world where rival loves exist, rival hates also exist in proportional measure. This may seem counter-intuitive but it is actually so because “love” and “hate” are, in reality, two sides of the same coin. (And when this coin is tossed, it renders an outcome akin to, “Heads I win, tails you lose.” 😉 )
In the “love”-“hate” relationship, love is the primary, initiating force. Secondarily, since “Love…always protects” (1 Corinthians 13:7), it generates the “thorny” response of “hate” towards that which opposes, threatens, and or violates what is loved. This describes what I will call the “first generation” of the “love”-“hate” relationship. This “first generation” helps to explain a good number of psychological (and sociological) dynamics that are not overly complex and layered.
As an example, take the matter of “jealousy” mentioned in the opening question above. If Sam is head-over-heals in love with Sally, his love for her seeks to protect her from all that would harm her and also guards their relationship from anything that might encroach upon it to possibly threaten it. Whatever might be perceived as possibly injurious to Sally or to their relationship becomes something that Sam generates a jealous, protective form of “hate” towards. This “hate” erects, as it were, a “hedge of thorns” (see Hosea 2:6) around their relationship to create rejection of and separation from anything or anyone who might oppose, threaten, and/or seek to violate it. This is a straight forward and simple example of the “love”-“hate” relationship in its “first generation” level.
The human condition, both individually and collectively, however, is rarely simple and straight forward, and so we need to see how the “love”-“hate” dynamic develops further with second and subsequent generations as well. This will help explain a vastly broader dimension of more complex personal, social, and even spiritual dynamics.
In the “first generation” level, “love” alone initiates and has the power to generate “hate.” In the second and subsequent generations, both “love” and “hate” each have the power to create additional “loves” and additional “hates.”
Four Subsequent Possibilities
To explain more fully how this works, we will utilize a well known phrase and it’s four possible variations to fit all the possibilities. That phrase is,
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
To understand this in the context of the “love”-“hate” relationship, an “enemy” is related to “hate” and a “friend” related to “love.” As such, this phrase could be interpreted as saying, in essence, “Those who hate what I hate, I love!” We should also consider that the “love”/”friend” dynamic is positive in nature, while the “hate”/”enemy” dynamic is negative.
We will now see the four possibilities that exist in the second and subsequent generations of the “love”-“hate” relationship and how this phrase can be worded to express those possibilities:
- “Love” generates subsequent “love” – The wording of the phrase to reflect this would be: “The friend of my friend is my friend.” Here, a double positive creates a subsequent positive.
- “Love” generates subsequent “hate” – As such, our phrase would be rendered: “The enemy of my friend is my enemy.” Here, a negative in opposition to a positive, creates a negative. (This is similar to what happens in the “first generation.”)
- “Hate” generates subsequent “hate” – This would be phrased: “The friend of my enemy is my enemy.” In this scenario, a positive allying with a negative, creates a negative.
- “Hate” generates subsequent “love” – Lastly, we have the original wording of the phrase: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” In this scenario, a double negative creates a positive.
Having an understanding of these secondary and subsequent effects is more than a mere curiosity but rather it provides us with a significant set of keys for unlocking a whole host of psychological, sociological, and even spiritual conditions that we might not be able to discern so clearly otherwise.
The first key it provides is the simple understanding that in the second and subsequent generations of the “love”/”hate” relationship, both “love” and “hate” each have the power to generate subsequent “loves” and subsequent “hates”. Therefore, when discerning a particular condition or situation, we need to ask ourselves where the evident “loves” and “hates” are derived from and of what nature they actually are? For instance, we should ask if a particular “love” is 1) a “first generation” love based on the inherent value ascribed to it, 2) the product of a double-positive, “friend of my friend” effect, 3) a double-negative, “enemy of my enemy” dynamic, or 4) a combination of two or more of these. All of those possibilities exist and it can make a significant difference in discerning the true nature of a condition or situation depending on what the answers to those questions are.
The second key is to understanding that the “first generation love” is unique from all else that follows. This “first generation love” is derived simply and purely from the inherent value ascribed to the object that is loved. All that is generated thereafter, from the “first generation hate” to the “second and subsequent generations” of both “love” and “hate”, are mixtures of whatever inherent value may be ascribed to the object on its own terms, plus whatever effectual value, the object has in relation to the “love” or “hate” that generated it, whether positive or negative. For instance an object may have a minor, positive, “first generation”, inherent value, but a major negative, “second generation”, effectual value. In such a case, the object would ultimately be viewed as a “hate” instead of a “love”, as it normally would on its own, “first generation” terms .
To illustrate this, let’s go back to the “pizza” analogy used earlier in these posts. This time, instead of talking about pizza being served with anchovies on it, let’s talk about pizza being served with peanut butter on it. Now, when you consider that strange suggestion, do you have an immediate positive or a negative reaction? My guess is that you have a negative one. I, personally, “love” the taste of pizza, and, unlike anchovies, I also “love” the taste of peanut butter. But, something effectually happens when my pizza and my peanut butter come into close relationship with each other! In such an unsavory encounter, I would not consider peanut butter to be a friend of my friend, Pizza, but rather an enemy of my friend, Pizza. As their two distinct flavors clash, the negative effectual value of peanut butter being added to my pizza, outweighs the positive inherent value I normally ascribe to peanut butter all by itself. In this situation, then, peanut butter switches from a “friend” to an “enemy” and from a “love” to a “hate.”
Now, this “second generation” flip-flopping can happen with things as ordinary as peanut butter, but it can also happen with much more significant and consequential psychological, sociological, and spiritual conditions as well! If wisely employed, this second key can help greatly in unlocking some of these more complex and layered matters.
The third key is understanding that most conditions and situations are a mixture of first, second and subsequent generations of “love” and “hate” all combined together into some sort of psychological, sociological, and/or spiritual “algorithm.” As such, most conditions and situations cannot simply be taken at face value. Only as we consider the inherent and effectual values of each “love” and “hate”, where they generate from, and how they interact with each other, can we rightly discern and wisely engage with any complex personal or collective situation.
The fourth and final key is to understand that in order to rightly discern and wisely engage with any condition or situation, whether psychological, sociological, or spiritual in nature, we must peal back the layers until we get to the primary “first generation love(s)” that generated all else thereafter. If we can engage with a matter at that primary, root level, in love and in truth, true transformation and change can potentially be obtained while maintaining the unity that comes from love. This is the ultimate key in the key set!
Many examples could be traced out employing these three questions, multiple possibilities, and four keys, but time and space does not allow in a simple blog post. My hope is that even this brief introduction will help some to begin to grasp how essential and consequential to all of the human condition this “odd-couple”, “dynamic-duo” really is. If we understand it from its most simple, “first generational” form to its “multi-generational”, overlapping, inter-twining, flip-flopping complexity, we will be able to have much keener insight into how it manifests on all levels and how many problems and conflicts it can help to reveal, unravel, and resolve.
[For those who would like to explore this further, you might find great benefit in seeing how these principles apply and inter-play in different scenarios presented in Scripture. May I suggest as examples, the serpent’s tempting of Eve (Genesis 3:1-6), Jehovah’s testing of Abraham (Genesis 22:1-18), Solomon’s ruling concerning two mothers and a baby (1 Kings 3:16-28), and the hypocrisy of Peter in the Galatian church (Galatians 2:11-14) as some possible starters. Extra credit! 😉 ]
In this post we took a deeper look into the multi-layered dynamics of the “love”-“hate” relationship and primarily applied it on the personal, psychological level. In the next post, we will take a further look at how an understanding of these dynamics can help us both to discern and deal with more complex, “thorny”, cultural and even political issues. Oh, my!!!
Please stay tuned!