In what sense are Christians taught to love their enemies?


Is it in the sense of praying for their souls, praying for a conversion of heart and mind, accepting them as they are, respect for their inherent dignity as human beings, doing good deeds toward them, a combination of some of these, or perhaps something else?

For example, how many Catholics and other Christians on CAF love the members of ISIS, and, if so, in what way?


To love, at least in the Catholic sense, is to desire the good of another and, if possible, to promote it.

Now, “good” is that which brings the person to his proper end (proper goals for a human). Therefore, “loving an ISIS person” would include such things as wanting for him to turn away from the ISIS life and acts, to convert (to a Catholic) or at least to pursue a life of doing good for others, carrying out the proper objects of human actions, and so on.

As Catholics (and, I daresay as Christians) we are obliged to love ISIS people in that way.

I have no idea how Jews think of all that. Possibly you can tell us. I say that respectfully.
I think perhaps I have read or heard that in Judaism, repentence is a prerequisite to human respect or “love” if one wants to use that word. If so, that is different from the Christian view, in which one loves in order to bring about repentence, even if by prayer alone.

Again, I will readily stand corrected if corrected.


I didn’t respond to part of your question, so I’ll do it now.

In Christianity, we have no obligation whatever to facilitate, aid or respect the wrongful acts or even mindsets of another. It is believed that right and wrong are objective, not subjective. If one is in the wrong, one is in the wrong, no matter what he thinks about it.
And there is no obligation to honor or accept the wrongness at all.


i have always had a hard time ‘loving’ those who i don’t like.

im sure this isnt an answer an apologist would give, but, its what gets me by.

  1. Luke 6:28
  2. In this instance, I define love to mean that I have the other person’s total welfare at heart. i pray that god bestow upon them grace and goodness. it doesnt bother me that i dont like them. i want to love them.
    3.this requires humility and obedience to god on my part
    4.Matthew 5:44-7


I am morally obligated to love others. I do not have an obligation to like them.



which is what i said.

see #2


In EVERY sense.


:thumbsup:he who loves seeks the good.




I would say it applies to all of the above examples except for, “accepting them as they are”, not in spite of loving them, but precisely because of loving them.

Your example of ISIS is actually an easy way to show why this is problematic. God forbid that you should accept them as they are (true friends desire the fulfillment of your full potential), but you do indeed pray for their souls, for their conversion of heart and mind, to respect their inherent dignity, and to do good deeds on their behalf (deeds that are done for their good include: praying for them, punishing them for their wrongdoings, respecting them, having compassion on them, talking with them, serving their corporal needs, etc… all of which are ordered towards the conversion of their mind and heart).


Hating others and fostering feelings of resentment and bitterness is an incredible waste of time and energy and no good can come from it.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Christianity is the only religion that preaches loving our enemies. I think I am one of the few who will openly say that I do not hate ISIS members and could possibly love them, although I don’t love their actions. I could not pray the Divine Mercy prayer, for example, if I did not believe heavenly graces could be extended to murderers and terrorists. In this devotion we pray for the atonement of the sins of the whole world, particularly those in most need of the mercy of Our Lord.

If we hate others, we are no better than they are. That’s why many find Christianity so attractive. Everybody has a shot at eternal life.


Well put, Belshazzar


Couldn’t say it better myself. The idea is to “love the sinner, but despise the sin”. In addition, we are to look past the sins of the person (even if he/she was ready to kill us) if the person comes to us in physical or spiritual need, asking for assistance.


I believe as Christians it becomes natural to love others but that doesn’t mean we have to like them because face it some people are really hard to like but that doesn’t mean we don’t love them… :o And I don’t believe we are supposed to say that we love the sinners but hate the sin because when we say that we hate the sin those who are doing the thing that is deemed sinful feels hated and rejected because they don’t see what they are doing as a sin… What is better is that we speak the truth in a loving way and to invoke God and our beliefs in our discussion, I think we’re trying follow the Pope’s lead in changing the tone of our voice and be more merciful and loving without compromising on our beliefs. With regards to Catholic Social Teaching affecting change in our world, much of the change happens gradually like a wave effect sending out truth and inspiring goodness in others one soul at a time.


C.S. Lewis, as usual, says it much better than I can.

An excerpt from Mere Christianity:–Mere-Christianity/yudbwx_files/OEBPS/Text/Section0023.html

I believe the one I have to talk of today is even more unpopular: the Christian rule, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Because in Christian morals “thy neighbour” includes “thy enemy,” and so we come up against this terrible duty of forgiving our enemies.

… we might try to understand exactly what loving your neighbour as yourself means. I have to love him as I love myself. Well, how exactly do I love myself?

Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness or affection for myself, and I do not even always enjoy my own society. So apparently “Love your neighbour” does not mean “feel fond of him” or “find him attractive.” I ought to have seen that before, because, of course, you cannot feel fond of a person by trying. Do I think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I am afraid I sometimes do (and those are, no doubt, my worst moments) but that is not why I love myself. In fact it, is the other way round: my self-love makes me think myself nice, but thinking myself nice is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. That is an enormous relief. For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are. Go a step further. In my most clear-sighted moments not only do I not think myself a nice man, but I know that I am a very nasty one. I can look at some of the things I have done with horror and loathing. So apparently I am allowed to loathe and hate some of the things my enemies do. Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.

For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life-namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again.

I admit that this means loving people who have nothing lovable about them. But then, has oneself anything lovable about it? You love it simply because it is yourself, God intends us to love all selves in the same way and for the same reason: but He has given us the sum already worked out on our own case to show us how it works. We have then to go on and apply the rule to all the other selves. Perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that that is how He loves us. Not for any nice, attractive qualities we think we have, but just because we are the things called selves. For really there is nothing else in us to love: creatures like us who actually find hatred such a pleasure that to give it up is like giving up beer or tobacco. …


The way I understand it is that is means to treat people with dignity and respect even if it somebody you don’t like. That doesn’t mean that you have to be friends or agree with what they do, just do no harm.


We heard an excellent sermon on the matter a few years ago. We are commanded to love our neighbor, including our enemies. We are not commanded to like anyone. The decision to love is an act of the will. Contrarily, liking or disliking someone is an emotional response. It is how the other person makes us feel. When certain politicians come on the television, they may evoke feelings of annoyance, anger and perhaps one might find their policies morally repugnant, but by the grace of God we decide to love them and pray for their souls. Then I switch the channel.


I believe love is an act of the will. So many saints exercised their wills to love people who were quite difficult. St. Therese of Lisieux comes immediately to mind.
It seems these saints lived by a quote that I remember coming across (don’t know who it’s attributed to). It goes, “You only love God as much as the person you love the least.”


Dorothy Day. Very interesting.


Wish that their gifts and talents would develop.


The Lord Jesus Christ told us to love our enemies. I can pray for ISIS and all terrorists that the Lord reveal His awesome love to them.

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