“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
Why do translators choose a strong word for ἀποστυγοῦντες, like “abhor”?
It is based on στύγω, which means to hate. But it is intensified.
Quoting John Piper:
If there were a universe in which there was no evil that hurt people or dishonored Christ, there would be only love and no hate. There would be nothing to hate. But in a world like ours it is necessary not only that we love and hate, but that our love include hate.
Paul says, “Let love be genuine, abhorring what is evil.” One commentator calls this abhorring “an intense inward rejection.” It is rejection. It is inward. It is intense. And my point is that in this world love has to feel hate for evil. Since evil hurts people and dishonors God, you can’t claim to love people while coddling evil.
Don’t make the mistake of saying: the evil I cherish only hurts me, and so it is not unloving to others. That’s absolutely false (see 1 John 5:2 above). You were made to display the worth of Christ to others. That is what is good for them. That’s what it means to love them. But if you do things to yourself that damage your delight in Christ and your display of Christ, you sin against others and not just yourself. You rob them of what God made you to give them.
So I say again, love for others must hate evil. Because evil hurts others directly, and evil hurts others indirectly by hurting you. Evil obscures the beauty of Christ. And Christ is our greatest good. Our greatest joy.