We've got a gun. In fact, we've got two. That's OK, man, 'cause we love God.

Hate the sin, love the sinner

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...and I cringe whenever someone say that. For sure, I do agree with what it's expressing--at least what I think it is expressing--but not the way it comes out. Regardless of what another has done (positive or negative) we should accord them respect as a human being. So, in this sense, I like and applaud the "hate the sin, respect the sinner." But throwing 'love' in there ruins it for me.

It's simple, really, depending on how we construct our personal identities. But to keep it simple, it seems that who we are consists of how we act and what we believe (though those aren't necessarily exhaustive). And, if we buy into that, it seems difficult to "hate the sin" and "love the sinner" at the same time--just as it'd be difficult to hate cherries but love cherry pie.

5 Responses to “Hate the sin, love the sinner”

  1. Blogger annegb 

    I am uncomfortable with this as well, and I don't know why. Perhaps others can articulate that on this thread.

    Maybe it's the judgemental tone, or the self-congratulatory way people say it. Maybe it's because I'm a sinner.

  2. Blogger lchan 

    That phrase just comes off as condescending and self-righteous.

    The basic idea is right but unless the sin actually affects me, I don't see the point in focusing on anybody's mistakes but my own.

  3. Anonymous Susan M 

    A much better catch phrase is the church is hospital for sinners, not a museum of saints. Or however that goes.

    I think "hate the sin, respect the sinner" is worse than "love the sinner." There's lots of people I love who I don't have all that much respect for. That sounds horrible, but it's true.

    I just take the saying to mean love people in spite of what they do.

  4. Blogger Arwyn 

    I've never had a problem with that phrase. It's never struck me as wrong or awkward, and I've never really cringed to hear it.

    And I think that has to do, I suppose, with how I've decided to understand it.

    "Hate the sin, love the sinner," seems to imply "hate what the person is doing, but love the person anyway." And that's an admirable sentiment, especially when we're commanded to love our enemies. Hating that someone is trying to kill me but loving the person anyway -- that's real charity.

    Where it can become obnoxious, I think, is when judgment comes into play. It's often applied to homosexuality -- hate that "sin", but continue to love and serve the person who's committing it. Except...what if that person doesn't recognize it as a sin? Then we're just being condescending and saying, "Dude, I know you're sinning even though you don't think you are, but I love you anyway, so don't worry."

    But if you think of it in another way -- say, "hate the sin and decide I'm not going to do it myself" and at the same time "love and serve the sinner because we're all sinners and if we don't love and serve sinners, then we're really in trouble" -- that's a bit of a different story.

  5. Blogger Pris 

    I think you're on to something, Arwyn: it seems that, usually, when the phrase is trotted out, it's as a judgement... or, as a way of justifying/rationalizing one's intolerance (especially in the SSM case).

    Susan, in general I agree. What I mean by 'respect' is just that basic respect we should accord to other people solely by the their virtue of being 'a person'.

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