FEAR HATE, NOT HORNETS
Updated: Jul 7, 2020
Hate, hearts, and hornets share one thing in common.
They are associated with murder.
Let’s start with the most innocent of these: hornets. We’ve collectively experienced a global pandemic, social unrest, blood moons, locusts, monster dust clouds … and now something with a terrifying moniker: murder hornets.
Are these for real?
Indeed, they are. But they aren’t as fearsome as they sound.
Murder hornets, or Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia), are common in many parts of Asia.
The name is a bit misleading. A sting from one of these two-inch long insects is not usually fatal. Instead, it is just like any other serious sting -- painful, but the swelling and pain in most cases subside in a few days. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Asian giant hornet delivers nearly seven times the amount of venom as a honey bee. It can sting multiple times. A beekeeper suit may not be able to withstand the sting. The problem is more complicated for those who are allergic to the venom. In those cases, there can be a significant, possibly fatal, reaction.
Those cases are rare. Approximately 30 to 50 people each year are killed by Asian giant hornet stings. They aren’t aggressive toward people unless you interfere with their food source or their nest.
The fact that these hornets are an invasive species is one of the larger concerns. They feast upon honey bees. A small group of murder hornets can destroy an entire hive. We know that bees are essential to pollinate crops, flowers, and trees. Since honey bees are already threatened by pesticide use, deforestation, disease, climate change and many other factors, any potential threat to them is serious.
Murder hornets have only been found in a few places in North America: Vancouver Island, British Columbia (2019), Bellinghan and Blaine, Washington (2019), and most recently near Custer, Washington (2020). The USDA is conducting surveys and creating plans to trap and eradicate the hornets in order to prevent their dispersal and to protect honey bees.
Despite their name, these hornets are not intentionally targeting people for death.
But the word “murder” causes an almost visceral reaction in people, particularly in light of recent graphic scenes of murder on the news, including the unjustified deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and the subsequent societal unrest erupting across the nation.
Murder is defined as the intentional and unlawful killing of a human being. Put another way, it’s the deliberate taking of an innocent life.
Murder is different from “killing.” Killing refers to the taking of a human or animal life, but includes kills that may be lawful and justified – for example, the killing of animals for food, or the killing of people in self-defense, war, or for capital punishment.
The notion of “intentionality” for murder is significant, particularly in the Bible, which is the moral foundation upon which much of our law is based. In the Old Testament, we’re all familiar with the Commandment “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13). Elsewhere, the Old Testament describes the intentionality necessary for “murder.” If out of enmity [hostility, hatred, an enemy] one person hits another with their fist so that the other dies, that person is to be put to death; that person is a murderer. (Numbers 35:16). Similarly, if someone strikes another with an iron or wooden object or a stone, and the blow is fatal, that person is a murderer. (Numbers 35: 16-19). Murderers “rise up” and kill (Job 24:14), “lie in wait,” watching “in secret” to ambush “the innocent.” (Psalm 10:8). Murderers “scheme.” (Hosea 6:9). There is no accidental murder (that’s manslaughter).
The New Testament takes the notion of murder a step further. Jesus said that anger is as serious as murder.
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."
Not only should we not murder, but we also should eliminate the anger and hatred that leads to death. The death to which he refers is the death of the object of our hatred, as well as our own. John writes that “anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” (1 John 3:15). Hatred is lethal to the hater, too.
Hatred as murder.
That, dear readers, is scarier than any hornet. That’s particularly alarming in a world where hate seems to run rampant. Murder is associated with the enemy of our souls. Jesus said “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44).
What can we do?
When it comes to hornets, there’s not much. If you live in an area where they’re present, you can report potential sightings of the AGH to your state apiary inspector.
But when it comes to hatred, there is much we can do. We can start by examining our hearts. Jesus tells us that its “… from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)(emphasis added). What is the basis for our specific beliefs? What is the moral framework for our choices? Are we living consistent with that framework? Are our beliefs shaped by negative experiences or distorted perceptions?
Second, we can follow what Jesus has commanded us to do: Love.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13: 8-10).
Whoever loves fulfills the command to not murder.
Love fulfills the law.
This concept is so simple, yet so profound.