Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

Taking a small break from the abortion series to address a theme I’ve seen in several of the blogs in my neighborhood- that being the “love the sinner, hate the sin” conundrum.

First I would like to point out that while the saying means “hate what someone does but love who they are”, it’s a little disingenuous to say it in situations where what someone does and who they are is inextricable.  One cannot, for example, say “I hate homosexuality but I love gay people.”  If you accept that homosexuality is not a chosen state but hate same-sex intercourse, perhaps you can wrap your mind around the saying- but even then I take issue with the saying itself.

First off, what does it mean to love a sinner?  How does one go about doing that?  Do you feel some sort of affection for them?  Perhaps say a prayer for them?  Or is that love an active and vibrant thing, one that like the love of Christ transcends perception and washes people clean, presents them to God as holy and new beings?

And what does it mean to hate a sin?  Does it mean to despise someone for the actions they take or to despise the actions themselves?  And either way- how is one to go about actively loving a person while at the same time hating what they do?  Or do we not hate the action itself, but what it represents?

For example- am I to hate gossip- or am I to hate the fact that gossip divides friends, and seek to repair the rift out of love for the friends involved?

Am I to hate bitterness, or am I to hate the fact that bitterness hardens a person’s heart and seek to soften it?

Am I to hate sexual indiscretion, or am I to hate the fact that it pulls people away from their search for holiness, and seek to demonstrate to them a better path?

Am I to hate drunkeness, or am I to hate the fact that a drunken state is one in which people lose control of their better angels, and seek to call them to a higher standard of behavior?

Don’t hate the sin or the sinner- hate the fallen state of humanity, and call saints and sinners alike to return to God’s heart for their lives.  God doesn’t call us to a boring state of purity seen only in shades of white and pallor, but a vibrant life full of love and grace and mercy and color, one in which we see our own two hands slowly changing to world around us and bringing us to a second Eden- God’s kingdom seen in our lives, here on earth.

So that’s my two copper coins on the subject.  It’s not as classy as a widow’s mite, but it’s what I’ve got to offer.

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7 thoughts on “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

  1. I think your point is very interesting. I think hate is a wasted emotion all together. Love is a much healthier one to indulge in.

    You can not like what someone chooses to do, but you can love them. That does not mean the sick enabling type of love. That means the healthy I don’t judge you but I have my own personal boundaries type.

    I would have to say that my only “Hates/Judgements” that I cannot get around which Im trying really hard to reconcile are Abuses towards women, children, animals, and the elderly. Anyone who victimizes someone smaller than they are..

    I choose not to include these people in my life. That is my choice. I would offer them help if they asked. Of course I would help anyone who was being abused to get out of the situation. But I draw the line. I have to for my own sanity. I give these people up to God. I would not harm them. That would make me as bad as they are.

    I don’t know if any of this makes one bit of sense…

  2. Slogan theology has its problems doesn’t it? I think it serves well as reminder but not as an exposition of how we should confront sin in the world and in our lives.

    Don’t hate the sin or the sinner- hate the fallen state of humanity, and call saints and sinners alike to return to God’s heart for their lives. God doesn’t call us to a boring state of purity seen only in shades of white and pallor, but a vibrant life full of love and grace and mercy and color, one in which we see our own two hands slowly changing to world around us and bringing us to a second Eden- God’s kingdom seen in our lives, here on earth.

    Amen sister. I’d say: ‘Preach it!’ but you know what the Bible says about women speaking in church 😉

  3. I love it when you put your two copper coins in.

    “First off, what does it mean to love a sinner? How does one go about doing that? Do you feel some sort of affection for them? Perhaps say a prayer for them? Or is that love an active and vibrant thing, one that like the love of Christ transcends perception and washes people clean, presents them to God as holy and new beings?”

    Are we suppose to answer these? 😉

    I’ll just stick to loving all sinners….but ONLY the sinners! 🙂

    Great post!!!!!

  4. Personally I think that saying is a cop-out. It gives the person permission to hate a part of someone without ever getting to know the whole person. I am gay, if someone applied that saying to me, then supposedly they love me but hate the fact that I am gay.

    If someone comes at me with the idea that they hate a part of me, do you think I am going to open up to them? No, the walls go up and then the other person can say, well I tried, but she is too mired in her sin to understand. That absolves them of any feelings of guilt but it never changes anything. They still don’t know me so they can still blindly hate a part of me. It’s a cop-out most of the time.

  5. Amber: Hate is a draining force and love is a building one. That’s a lesson I learned from Buddhism, but it’s just as applicable in any faith.

    RWG: It does serve as a reminder, but I think that like with all other things one must carefully consider the reasons, the cost, the way it has been interpreted in the past and the way it is viewed by those outside the faith… I’m sure that sounds like a ridiculous amount of things to ponder for the use of six little words- but if your faith doesn’t activate your mind and engage your intellect, it’s hollow. Oh, and thanks! 😉

    Stephanie: Thank you!

    wvhillcountry: It is a copout. Especially in the context that most people initially think of- that is, the “God Hates Fags” style of rhetoric defended by the statement that they “love the person but hate the gay.” The mind boggles. Just boggles. Especially when the gay men are then blamed for taking offense.

    Sheesh.

    I’m a gentle person, but there are times I want to throttle someone.

  6. Your second last paragraph, you have written those words as if they are from my own heart. I am not commenting much but I am a lurker *grins* yeah sure stealing cookies and all but lurking. Mwah!

    Have I told you recently how well you write???

  7. Pingback: Weekly fruit salad - Número Quince « SanityFound’s Rambling’s

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