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(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)Dan Delzell is an exclusive CP columnist.

If someone disagrees with your views on gender, sexuality, marriage, Christianity, atheism, or politics, it doesn't mean hate is in their heart. While some people are quick to throw out the "hate" label when trying to discredit another person's point of view, it is grossly unfair, naive and abusive to resort to such mean-spirited attacks. After all, who among us is capable of looking into someone else's heart?

Such corrosive behavior could be called "hate-labeling." It occurs when you accuse a person of being hateful just because you completely disagree with them on certain issues.

A good example would be the evolution we have witnessed over the past 25 years with the idea of "gay marriage." In 1996 the U.S. Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and President Clinton signed it into law. This federal law defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It was not hateful for those politicians to vote their conscience on this issue 22 years ago. And it is not hateful for anyone today to believe DOMA was a step in the right direction. Hate has to do with what is in your heart, whether you happen to agree with President Clinton's decision or not.

Hate-labelers have been known to badmouth atheists, Christians, Democrats, and Republicans simply because of various positions these groups endorse. And yet, there are plenty of people in these groups who are anything but hateful. Go figure.

Are there some Democrats, Republicans, atheists and "pretend" Christians who have hate in their heart? Sure. But that's a much different issue than politicians signing DOMA legislation, or people subscribing to either traditional or progressive values. For example, Dan Cathy is the CEO of Chick-fil-A, and he holds a principled position on traditional marriage just like those politicians did back in 1996. (see "The Dominoes of Gender, Marriage and Sex")

Meanwhile, haters verbally abuse or physically attack people and are quick to condemn others. Rather than calmly debating the issues, they resort to name-calling.

While some actions clearly involve hatred toward a particular race or group of people, expressing concern over children being encouraged to impersonate the opposite sex doesn't automatically make you a hater by any stretch of the imagination. Far from it. Sadly, a significant number of people want to force a dangerous ideology upon grade school children. (see "The Sudden Phenomenon of Transgender Children - How Did We Get Here?")

Another example would be those who have transitioned out of homosexuality, or who have stopped having sex before marriage. (see "Why Some People Transition Out of Homosexuality") After all, why should their testimonies carry less weight than the testimonies of those who choose to sleep together outside of marriage, or those who choose to engage in homosexual behavior?

Does it make you hateful if you attempt to help others live a chaste life, or a promiscuous life? Of course not. It is often nothing more than a concerned individual wanting to champion his or her favorite ideas. It has nothing to do with being hateful or judgmental.

Many people espouse a particular lifestyle or viewpoint without looking down on those who choose to live a different way. This doesn't mean everyone who boldly announces their opinions is a caring person, or that someone is hateful just because he or she strongly promotes their preferences. (see "Bisexual Confessions, Ex-Gay Testimonies Receive Scorn")

By the way, hating others doesn't disqualify a person from being an atheist, Republican, or Democrat; but it does prevent a person from being a Christian. "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar." (1 John 4:20)

It's one thing to disagree on matters of gender, sexuality, marriage, Christianity, atheism or politics. But it's another thing altogether to accuse people of being hateful just because they hold positions different than your own. People hold a wide range of views concerning what they perceive to be harmful to others. And it is not hateful to want to spare people the pain you believe they will experience if they remain on their current path.

While there are certainly plenty of genuine haters in the world today, there is no need to commit the irresponsible transgression of labeling someone a "hater" just because you reject some of their ideas. You might be surprised to learn how much compassion is actually in their heart.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.
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