So Carl posted a link to this article and got me thinking about hate crimes.
I've heard people argue against the concept of hate crime, saying that every crime is a hate crime. In a sense that is true. But we do need to think things through and understand that the term hate crime has come to represent a certain type of crime. For example, rather than killing someone for personal reasons (e.g. he hurt my family or he's a jerk or he humiliated me) I'm killing him for impersonal reasons based on some generalized trait that he happens to possess (e.g. he has red hair or he's a Scientologist). This is a matter of one's internal thinking. Unless I have proclaimed it publicly, no one may ever know that I've always had a deep seated hatred for people who are in love with Boulder, CO (just kidding, although it is super annoying).
Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart. [1 Samuel 16:7]
God judges each person's heart. For this reason, a hate crime is a more serious sin than a 'regular' crime. King David ordered the death of Uriah the Hittite for personal reasons. He wanted to cover up his adultery and steal Uriah's wife. Once he realized the awful truth of what he had done he repented with true contrition. But what if he had ordered the death of Uriah simply because he was a Hittite and King David believed that all Hittites deserve to die? David may repent of it and may seem to have true contrition; however, David could not hide his internal hatred from God. He could never have true contrition while believing that all Hittites deserve to die. First he would need to experience conversion, otherwise he would be in danger of unrepentance.
This is all well and good when God is the judge. But when human beings decide to be the judge, e.g. through hate crime legislation, the system is inherently unjust. The accused is scrutinized and judged in an attempt to determine his innermost thoughts and feelings. We may think that this is fine and reasonable when a person has been shouting in public squares about how much he hates fill-in-the-blank peoples and then assaults such a person. Violent intimidation and terrorism are reasonable grounds for prosecution. However, our fear of violence and our hatred of haters and our desire for vengeance can blind us to the danger in giving the authorities the power to judge our innermost thoughts and feelings. We forget that our authorities are not, nor can they ever be, omniscient and objectively good. Of course we need to address the problem of hate crimes; I'm not saying we shouldn't judge the deeds. I'm just saying we cannot judge the heart.
With any sort of legislation of thoughts and feelings we are asking the judicial system to take the place of Jesus Christ, who is the only Just Judge. We need to be careful not to set up for ourselves a Big Brother when what we really need is a Heavenly Father.