How many times have you heard the phrase “Hate the sin, love the sinner”? When I think about it, I can recall being told that in 3rd grade Sunday school. I was kind of excited about the imperative that we were told – as it gave not only permission, but a command to hate something (which I was always taught was a sin). I’ve seen it paraphrased every once in a while to “Condemn the sin, love the sinner”. To me that seems even harsher than hate. Hate… I despise something and I want nothing to do with it. Condemn whew child, that’s making some hardcore judgement calls (by the way good luck doing that and “loving the sinner”).
That actually brings me to my point. What sins come to mind with this adage? Gossip? Please. Everyone loves gossip even if they say they don’t. Our ears bend to it. Nice try. No, I’d say that 90% of the time I’ve heard this spoken, it’s been involving sexual sin. Try a search on it the majority of hits will come up with homosexuality. Of course you will find out in that search that it’s not in the Bible… in fact… it’s a quote… by Gandhi and has nothing to do with Christianity. Yet, I’ve heard it time and time again from Christian authority figures as if it’s gospel.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just a terrible person, but if you tell me to “hate” something even with an admonition to love … Love will not win out. I’ll just be in that hate mode. That brings to mind James 3:10-12. How can we hate and love at the same time? We can’t. If someone were to tell me that they hate my sin, but love me (this has happened by the way), in my head I’d be saying “F**k you” and imagining punching them, outwardly I politely nod and thank them for the “grace” they’re showing me.
There are so many people who are stuck, hurting, and fighting battles that you cannot begin to imagine and when people say stuff like this… all you are doing is conveying judgement, your superiority (because clearly you are without sin thus you can cast the first stone), and yeah… hate. Why not just love people no matter what muck they’re in? Why not let GOD deal with the sin? Who made you judge? Who gave you the right to condemn this person’s sin and not another’s (or your own)? Why not just LOVE? Jesus mentioned that a bit didn’t He? Love your neighbor. He never once said to judge and hate their sin.