Thursday, October 27, 2005

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

Is this just not the most over-used cop-out any of us have EVER heard??? And yet, it's part of our internal vocabulary. I've even had it slip out of my mouth a time or two even though I've absolutely come to despise it's use.

Here's the trouble, as I see it. If we say we "love the sinner, hate the sin", we are saying that we are able to do something that in actuality only God can do sucessfully 100% of the time.

We are human. We rank things. We line things up. For instance, as an art teacher I display an enormous amount of work in the halls of our school. Usually, the works are somewhat similar in that they are a response to a specific lesson. And yet, they are each unique and different. I can guarantee you that a given person, walking down the halls, stopping long enough to really look at all the artwork, will start comparing them. They will find one or two that stand out as better, in their opinion, than the others. It's part of how we are made. It's what we do. People might disagree about which artwork is their favorite. In fact, they will. Nevertheless, they will rank and choose among the works.

We do the same thing with our sins. Some sins carry more of the "yuk factor" than others for a broader range of people. Unfortunately, homosexual acts carry a high "yuk factor" for the general "Christian" population at large. This is a problem. We (Christians) need to get past this. And not just as it pertains to homosexual acts, but other things as well.

I'm trying to think of a sin that carries a high "yuk factor" for me. Homosexuality (which implies homosexual acts) certainly does not. I hug and kiss and goo and gah with my gay friends. I absolutely LOVE them and don't think diddly about what they do when I'm not around and they are in the privacy of their bedrooms. Heck, I don't even get grossed out when they embrace or kiss each other in front of me.

BUT....let's see....I do have a real problem dealing with people who are prideful or arrogant. I'd just as soon not be around such people. They turn me completely off and I have no use for them. There's no credibility, no authenticity to me, with people who blatantly act as if they are better than others. And yet, I'm supposed to love these people but hate their sin of pride and arrogance. I have a hard time with that...because to me...that sin ranks higher than the others. I rank sins. I can't help it. Someone could be as pure as the driven snow morally and yet be prideful and I'd have a very hard time "loving" them.

I say all of that to say THIS....
Love the sinner needs to stop RIGHT THERE. Just LOVE the SINNER. The sins are very rarely against us personally. I, for one, have been personally hurt by the sin of homosexual acts. And yet, this is the very sin that God has called me, even designed me, to be most compassionate towards. God is so funny that way, huh?

LOVE THE SINNER. Sins are ultimately against God. Not us. Yes, we are the voice of God crying in the wilderness. But, you know, what good does it really do to continue to proclaim that I believe homosexual acts to be sin? At some point, I've just got to get on with the business of loving people no matter what. And so, I'll let God hate the sin and I'll concentrate on loving the sinner.

Works for me. I wish that formula could work for ALOT of other people.


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Elizabeth said...

Wow. That was such a great entry. Inspiring! I agree with you, we should just stop at love the sinner! I've always tried to love everyone, despite their sins, but it isn't always easy, especuially those who sin against me. You know, I agree about the 'sin' of homosexuality. Although I don't think it's a sin, I don't know why it's such a high one for many Christians. It doesn't really affect others, so I don't know.

May I ask how you were hurt by the sin of homosexuality? You don't have to say if you don't want to, i'm just curious.

Thank you for your post, it's really uplifting! God bless!

grace said...

Thanks for your comments! I don't mind saying how I've been hurt. I do hesitate somewhat to focus on it or go into any detail about it because it's difficult for my husband to be reminded of my woundings. I guess you could say I was decieved by it. There was an inappropriate relationship which I was unaware of going into the marriage. I think the difference in me and most other people who've been hurt in this way is this. I don't blame homosexuality. Many do. Sort of like a wife blaming her husband's infedelity on the "other woman" instead of embracing the issues at work within her husband which caused him to act out inappropriately.

Robert said...

This is an interesting theological post, Grace. It touches upon something that I, a non-Christian, have been curious about -- that is that God hates sin, hates Satan, hates unholy things.

It seems to me that if God is love, as so many say that he is, then perhaps God does not hate at all. God may reject behavior that is unwholesome, but that is not necessarily hate. It seems to me that if Satan exists, or some other personification of evil, that he harms himself without having God or his angels intervening. The same can be said for all of us who sin.

rob said...

As I have heard others say, loving the sinner and hating the sin often ends up coming pretty close to hating both the sinner and the sin. If Christians as a whole would begin to open up and stop after loving the sinner, I'm sure we'd all be a little better off.

On that note, even if the saying changed to "Love the sinner, hate sin", it would remind everyone that we all sin, and we all need support and encouragement (and not rely on the yuk factor as an excuse for targeted ignorance)

You have some good things to say, so I'm sure you'll see me around here again.

grace said...

Thanks as always for your input. My husband and I were discussing "hate" in relation to God (your comment)as we sat in the car this morning waiting on a basketball game to start. I think I'll just respond to that whole concept with a blog post in a few days if you don't mind. I certainly don't have all the answers and I'm no theologian...but I do have some thoughts. I'm reminded again of the words we heard at the Pepperdine orientation last fall and I hope to always apply them to myself as I continue to seek truth. "At Peppperdne we are not threatened by those seeking truth." I do believe that ultimate truth can be found in the person of Jesus Christ.

grace said...

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to reading your blog as well. Don't have time today but I did take a glance. The artwork/photography is beautiful and I noticed the cool design on your "birthday card". I look forward to hearing and reading more from you!

Brady said...

Nice post, Grace. I think the yuck factor comes into play a lot in the idea of homosexuality. I like how you went looking for sins you see a high "yuck" factor in. Very unique way of thinking.

Chronic Closure said...

Wonderful post, Grace. I enjoy the honesty in your writing.

I always found the phrase pretentious myself--- the concept behind the phrase is fine, but the phrase itself almost seems to imply that the person saying it is not a sinner themself. "Love people, hate sin" is more accurate, but it suffers from a similar problem. Why not stop talking about loving the sinner insteas of just doing it?! =P


grace said...

Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate your comments! In answer to your comment on the other post...I may have "worked past" that little rant of sorts I was going to write. Funny how that can happen. I think the last few things I've written were my way of getting through those thoughts I was having at that time, if that makes sense. :)
Thanks again for stopping by.

Daryl said...

I have found that when pondering sin and God hates... and other such things, it is very helpful to step back and look at it (as best we can) from God's point-of-view. Stop thinking of sin as "doing bad stuff;" that's the way we teach it to 4 & 5 year olds. Look at what it really is, what it really was to Adam & Eve: separation from God. When we sin, we separate ourselves from the love of God.

God is unconditional love and God is all good. So when we sin, we separate ourselves from all that is good and from unconditional love. God doesn't hate anything, but loves us so much that he doesn't want anything to separate us from him. That's where our focus should be. If we become obsessed about the 'speck in our brother's eye' we become the ones with the 'log in our own eye', the sin of unworthy pride, the separation from God.

For me, remembering that always makes me feel closer to God, and the urge to judge or condemn just isn't there.