Tuesday, May 15, 2012

#227 Saying "Love the sinner, hate the sin"


Christian culture likes to say that they "love the sinner but hate the sin." They put it on bumper stickers and memes and have no problem saying it out loud to the sinners in question. Love the sinner. Hate what he does. Two separate things.


Curiously enough, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is often credited to Ghandi. Christian culture might not quote it as readily if they knew that part (danger! Hindu!) but even so, they can and will invoke it any time someone is doing something Jesus probably wouldn't like.


Christian culture makes a special point of saying they love the sinner and hate the sin when explaining why marriage should be between one man and one woman. It's concise and tidy and lets them to stay an arm's length from the people they're calling sinners. Their subtext sounds something like this: "I sure do love that sinning gay person. Sure do. But as a Christian I hate, I really hate the fact that he continues down the path of willful defiance against his Creator and chooses to live a gay lifestyle."


When pressed, a person in Christian culture will often concede that it's okay to be gay as long as you don't act on said gayness. You know, because of Leviticus. And they won't think twice about saying this to you over shellfish after working on Saturday while wearing clothes with two types of fibers and after cutting the hair on the sides of their heads. Then after all this they might remind you that they love that sinner but sure hate that sin. If you choose this moment to tell them they're quoting a Hindu, expect them to be defiant, or at the very least confused. They may be just as baffled by another of his quotes: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

49 comments:

Katsicle said...

you finished it! yay stephie :)

Anonymous said...

Steph I was worried that you had some easter candy induced embolism or something.
Anyway, one thing that gets me is how some pastors can work the gay male sex thing into everything, it's like they are in the throes of some internal struggle. Everything is something like, "btw, Christian men don't have sex with other men." They can work that line into anything, entirely too often; protesting way too much.
Nelson

Nathan said...

It's interesting to me that you say Christian culture is anti-gay. I don't disagree that parts of Christian culture are against homosexuality but I think it is more that Christian culture is divided against itself. There are certainly churches and Christians who think homosexuality is a sin, but there are also a large number who think it is okay. It is an issue that divides the church itself, well the American Church at least.

I really like the last quote by Ghandi, not the first time I've heard it but still find it relevant and truthful.

Love the blog by the way.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to add, "while sporting their "Jesus" tattooes."

Deep down, the same-sex issue probably terrifies most fundamentalist Christians. I mean, Paul reinforces it in Romans, right? So if Paul condemns it while throwing out all the other old prohibitions, that can only mean one of two things: either God told Paul that teh gays were not off the hook while shellfish lovers got the go-ahead, or (more likely) Paul's own personal hangups and prejudices intruded on his theology. Which would mean that the Bible wasn't inerrant after all.

Which would mean that Christians would have to think about it and interpret it for themselves, instead of just slavishly following the version their leaders had cobbled together out of cherry-picked passages that satisfied their own personal ideologies and didn't make them uncomfortable about theor own moral failures (adultery? greed?)

Which would invalidate the purpose of religion for these people, which is not so much to help guide them to be better people, especially in their interactions with others and with the world around them (haaaarrrrd!) but to allow them to live unexamined lives, comfortable in the knowledge that if they follow a narrow set of rules they'll get to ride the rides in celestial Disneyland free forever and ever.

starla said...

Guess who else say that famous little sentence: Catholic priests about those paedophiles among them. Now you've told me Gandhi said that I'm even more disgusted.

JDM929 said...

I think there are a lot of Christians that are fine with gays, gay marriage, or at least have a laissez-faire attitude. The problem is they're effectively silent about the issue, or at least aren't anywhere nearly as loud as the anti-gays.

elisabeth said...

JDM929 so true. Lets change that!

AdmNaismith said...

Lords of Light, I wish someone would explain to me 'The Gay Lifestyle'.

I go to work, I come home and make dinner and watch TV. I read Science Fiction and listen to soundtracks.

Which one does Jesus hate so much?!?

Nelson said...

AdmNaismith
Hah so funny!

paul said...

"When pressed, a person in Christian culture will often concede that it's okay to be gay as long as you don't act on said gayness."

Funny that. That's because after years of trying they have discovered they can't cure the gay thing. Those churches that believe it's a sin and grapple with "loving the sinner" don't actually use the bible when explaining homosexuality. Instead, they rely on that most stalwart of Christians (i.e. Freud). In the absence of a God who you can pray to who will deliver one from gaydom (and Gomorrah), they have developed "reparative therapy" to help repress and suppress the gay part of a person. Gays aren't born that way, they are the result of bullies and bad parenting. It's a tricky thing. They cannot just leave it alone. The apostle Paul acknowledges that people have a sex drive, that's why God invented marriage. He point's out that it's better to marry than it is to "burn" (of course, he had never been married). Anyway, people having a sex drive includes gays, but the 'moral majority' has decided it's best that they 'burn.' It's all a part of that "love" thing.

Michele Colyn said...

Said this for ages 13-25.

Sam said...

Todd VanDerWerff sent me here, and even though I'm Jewish I'm loving this! Just letting you know.
~s~

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking there should be a site like this for Jewish folks, but all you basically have to do is watch all of the Mel Brooks films to get the same laughs.

Rebecca said...

Ok Stephanie, after visiting your other blogs, too, I have to say your writing disgusts me, you are a malicous, backbiting little witch, obviously spoiled middleclass, bored, with too much time at your hands and a head full of perversion. I believe your parents have sinned against you when they did not spank you (often and hard enough) as a child and now we can see the ugly result.

You complain that Christians are not loving enough when you dedicate an entire blog to the faults of a co-worker. I am so glad I don't need to work with you. You think you are smart and intellectual, but your moral weakness and dishonesty are shining through everything you write.

You probably hate personal confrontation and rather talk about others behind their backs. The opposite of what a Christian is supposed to be.

You remind me of 2. Tim 3:

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,

4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture WEAK WOMEN, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,

7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

To me YOU embody everything that is wrong with "Christian" culture!

Anonymous said...

Well I've been reading this blog for a long time and I never got that impression so I decided to read another blog to see what Rebecca was writing about. I read some of "Hammerhead Theater" and that's some of the most vicious character assassination I've ever seen.

It's like following a little retarded child around and documenting every stumble and every leaking diaper. All its faults observed, set in a notebook, learned and conn'd by rote to be cast in its teeth.

What you are doing in "Hammerhead Theater" is just plain unfair and rotten.

shelly said...

Someone just threw a hissy-fit up in here! Not only that, I'd say Rebecca Doesn't Get It.

See, this blog, and the Facebook page, have become a massive refuge for many who have been abused and hurt by Christian Culture and all its misdeeds. All Stephy is doing is calling Christian Culture (not Christianity altogether) out on its bullshit, bringing all its faults. And I, for one, am thankful for that. Yet, it seems to drive you up the wall.

At least for every one of people like Rebecca, there are loads more who are thankful for what Stephy has done and is doing.

Anonymous said...

Shelly I tried the selectsmart religious quiz too because I was thinking I was probably a "liberal quaker" also - my results were Reform Judaism No. 1 (Liberal Quaker was No. 4 - 89% so I was close!).
Nelson

Mark said...

I have a girlfriend, but I kinda love you a little bit. The more I read, the more smitten I become. It is so hard to find Christians who aren't cut from the same cloth, Christians who don't march in lock-step to the same mantras. Don't stop saying such awesome stuff. There are others like you who are not afraid of--revel in, even--being critical of the status quo.

I found your blog on belief.net when I searched for people who say the word "just" ad nauseum in public prayers. What do you think about praying aloud at all? Ref: Matt. 6:6 and Mark 1:35. Your thoughts on the religious dogma that has no basis on actual biblical example or instruction... well, to "Office Space you"... If you could write it on Saturday, that would be just great.

paul said...

Is Rebecca a christian?

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've been checking out your blog. The tone from time to times seems unnecssarily hostile and not aimed towards broader reconcliation and healing. As I tend to strive for unity, that rubs me oddly. That being said, you do well to point out so many of the Church's grevious acts that aren't called out with enough frequency or by enough people. Now, I did, initially, write this super-long satrical response. It was way to long to post here. I'll link it, though, just for grins. If you choose to read it, know that there are about two statements I'll stand by in that work 1) Steph is good writer 2) Yes, I did see that stuff in Bosnia. As for the rest, what I wrote was purely theatrical. I do fuse charicatures of a few kinds of people, but explaining it all just kills it.:) Ok, here's the link. I'llkeep peeping in on your sight. So much of your wrath is warranted. If you get too used to that idea and see yourself as God's hammer of justice......well, that sounds alot like the ppl you don't like. The things that make you mad also make me mad. Personally, my own wrath has never brought about anything good. We do need prophetic bloggers. What we don't need is bloggers so mad (with good reason) that their rage obfuscates the prophetic in their words. Neither Conservatives nor liberals have never gotten my attention with fire and brimestone. Hear me. I see your work as important. In all honesty, I see your reasonably placed anger as something that could torpedeo your message as a whole. Of course, I could be wrong. I'm wrong alot. My last name means something like "mistaken one" so I'm used to it. Blessings all. Thanks for your work, Steph. I hope you'll check out the other. It really is just for you.http://mrerrare.wordpress.com/

kari said...

i'm an mk, and i am glad to find a community here of like-minded free thinkers.

kari said...

@rebecca, and you seem to embody everything a christian IS. where does one sign up?

Anonymous said...

What is an "mk"?

cbaby74 said...

Hi Steph, I just read through all of your posts and wow, that was familiar lol. Some I see no problem with (like wearing wireless mics, what's wrong with that? lol), but I definitely see your point on most of these. Some were all too familiar (Christian Hipsters and dated looks from the nineties), but some actually convicted me.

When you were talking about Christians who claim cigarettes defile the temple, but rush straight to Cracker Barrel after service... it really struck me. If I'm going to say it's no bueno to defile the temple, I'm going to start living a healthy lifestyle.

However, I think for this specific post you need to look at both sides. Homosexuality isn't only condemned in The Law (specifically Leviticus), but also in the Pauline Epistles seen here: Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, and 1 Timothy 1:9–10.

Again, love your blog. Your tone was a little more critical than I was comfortable with at times, but maybe that's because I'm from countless generations of Christian Culture.

-C.J.

KS said...

I also hear “love the sinner, hate the sin”, and it strikes me as a way to reconcile two very divergent ideas—the Christian tenet of loving everyone as Jesus would, versus the idea that Christians can deliver judgment and ultimatums against “sinners”. Look at Jesus’ life; did He ever practice this love/hate dichotomy? When he spent time with the “sinners” of his culture, did he ever tell them “love the sinner, but hate the sin?” To be sure, the Bible quotes God as hating people’s actions, but judgment is God’s domain after all. Christians was never given the power to judge others, yet some immediately turn to insults when their behavior is questioned. So, which is more “godly”--exhorting people to do what’s right, or insulting others in the face of blatant contradictions?

Anonymous said...

Jesus didn't love everyone. He drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip. He ridiculed and berated people to their face. It's not surprising that he was executed for it.

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Amy said...

First time here, first post I've read. I was raised in a church that gave me a wonderful understanding of sin and grace, but was legalistic to an uncomfortable degree. There are no perfect people down here..

Judgmental attitudes are based in a pride of believing one has come to a revelation that puts them in a "place" to make judgment on someone else's "place". We were all unsaved until we were saved. It wasn't our intelligence, good looks, moral superiority or holiness that caused us to be saved... but the exact opposite. As such, we should be careful in our pride in the revelation that was a gift of God.

The only person's sexual orientation and sinfulness thereof I have any firsthand knowledge of is my own. The only sin I can control is my own. The only one powerful enough to change hearts is God.

In my personal quest to give up my position as the Holy Spirit's "enforcer"... I try to share that incredible freedom and love are available at the throne of God and point everyone to Him. I let the conviction of sin and the application of scripture into the hearts of others in the hands of God. I may share my understanding or God's revelation to me through scripture - but I can't apply it to you or anyone else.

Sometimes I'm reminded that judging the judgmental is still judging. That irritates me, but reminds me - we're all broken sinners. Their judging and my judging them for judging are the exact same sin, and this reminds me to be humble. Christianity isn't for the weak... humility is hard stuff. It is necessary in order to be teachable, though. If I know it all, what can God teach me?

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Brian said...

I believe the Bible says love everyone and hate your own sin. Just a thought.

religionannarbor said...

" You know, because of Leviticus. And they won't think twice about saying this to you over shellfish after working on Saturday while wearing clothes with two types of fibers and after cutting the hair on the sides of their heads"

Just so you know, you are displaying a lack of knowledge of how Christianity interacts with the Old Testament. Check out this link:

http://www.redeemer.com/news_and_events/newsletter/?aid=363

The bottom line is that the Old Testament moral law is still in effect. The ceremonial law (clean foods, temple purity) is not (because Jesus replaced the temple - Heb 10) and the civil laws and punishments are not (because the church is not ancient Israel).

But the sexual morals of the Old Testament are certainly still in effect for Christians.

Anonymous said...

Why would it be a problem that the quote came from a non-christian originally?

Daniel A. Kaufman said...

religionannarbor:

Actually, it is you who are displaying a lack of knowledge about Judaism.

The idea that one can distinguish moral from ritual law is entirely alien to Judaism--at least in its halakhic incarnations. Paul's attempt to do so reflects the extent to which he is ignorant of his own Judaism, largely because of the influence of Hellenism.

To demonstrate the incoherence of this distinction, consider the fact that much of the motivation for the dietary laws is moral: we should kill and eat in a manner that is not animalistic; that takes into account cleanliness and sanitation; and which considers the suffering of the animal.

I find it interesting that so many evangelical Christians profess such intense interest in Ancient Hebrew civilization and yet don't bother to learn very much about it. One wonders whether the interest is purely for the sake of effect.

Jessie Tancredi said...

Gandhi, not Ghandi.

(One other commenter got it right, while another followed your lead and got it wrong.)

Jayn said...

That last quote (actually, this whole post to an extent) reminds me of a pin I found at a New Age bookstore:

"God please save me from your followers"

I always find it a little intriguing how the basis of my liberalism is the basis for others' conservatism.

Anonymous said...

Hate the religion, love the people.

Pheryx said...

I don't completely understand that last sentence...

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

I do hear it everywhere I go, or at least something to the likes of that, but I don't understand.

What exactly makes them say so?

Anonymous said...

Actually Ghandi stole the quote from St Augustine a Catholic Priest...So it is a Christian saying but it is no way translated scripture. Its an idea that arose from Catholic writings about how one should handle known sin within the culture. Yes we all have sin but we don't all have a savior from the sin that separates all of mankind from a Holy God. Seek Peace with GOD and others while striving for holiness in ones life. Paul states that people have to die from sin daily, like fighting a deadly plague with a daily medication. None are immune but are found in iniquity.

Anonymous said...

Love the sinner hate the sin actually came from St. Augustine. His Letter Opera Omnia, Vol II. Col. 962, letter 211 contains the phrase Cum dilectione hominum et odio , which translates roughly to "With love for mankind and hatred of sins."

Anonymous said...

hahaha I have a meme I made about this quote last night and this morning.
my second "hate the sin" meme
what do you think? I thought it would be too graphic for the public.
Here's the description that came with it: Take a good hard look at that album cover, click the picture to enlarge it and let it sink in. Yes, yes that is a pregnant legless woman riddled with bite marks having her newborn baby skull-fucked by a corpulent fellow in a wife-beater while the rest of her baby is still inside of her, essentially fucking her at the same time. Multitasking like a champion.

I'm sure it's quite obvious already that we have us some brutal death metal in our midst. To me, it doesn't offer anything groundbreaking or refreshing, but it is littered with samples from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia". Everything is over the top gore and brutality, here is an excerpt from song "Robalni"

When she pushes out its head slides down
Forward I thrust back into her cunt
Further out, its brain now a messy joke
Umbilical cord wrapped around its throat
Newborns head completely out of the slit
I nail its tongue to its moms clit
Cord decapitation and its mangled head taken
The rest of the remnants I shove all the way back in

"hate the sin, love the sinner" Woo FTW

kevin said...

this is really sad, that church sign is from my city, just more proof i am very much in the bible belt, haha. nice post

AwkwardTurtleStudios said...

Friend, I would like for you to read Jude 1:20-23. It states, "20) But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit,
21) maintain yourselves in the love of God, while anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that brings eternal life.
22) And have mercy on those who waver;
23) save others by snatching them out of the fire; have mercy on others, coupled with a fear of God, hating even the clothes stained by the flesh."
By "hating the clothes stained by flesh," Christians are asked to despise the outward actions of the sinner(we all sin) and work to save the person drowning underneath the sin. Therefore, God calls us to witness to and love those who do not know God countless times throughout the Bible. Friend, I wish that I could answer all of the questions that you may have about Christianity as well as accusations that may be plaguing your heart. Always know that humans are imperfect and Christians make mistakes all the time, but never doubt Jesus' love for you. Sincerely, a Christian following Christ.

Regan Clem said...

Your article was an attack on the Christian phrase. I wrote an article explaining the phrase for everyone.

The origin of the phrase is probably Augustine and not Gandhi.

http://regansravings.blogspot.com/2013/05/i-am-sinner.html

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Anonymous said...

I think STEFFI successfully identifies many of the problems with the evangelical church, which has started to go rancid just like the Catholic church did during the reformation, and I think all of you orthodox people being comforted into your repetitious liturgy are fooling yourselves.

However, her response is a pitifully cliched ALT-CHURCH one that hits all the bullet points of LGBTQ, Women's Rights, Environmentalism. Because of this, all I see this blog accomplishing is ostracizing those in opposition and comforting those already on her side of the fold.

My "partner" and I have been through a bad spell with the last church we tried to become a part of, it came to a head when our bible study leader called me to his office and told me my answers were too long and my utterance of the words "promiscuous sex" while describing the art milieu disturbed the younger girls in attendance, so I completely understand the chauvinistic naivete that runs rampant. We left the church after that. I don't know what the answer is yet, but it doesn't lie in what I have read here.

To Rebecca, I think Hammerhead Theater is well written, hilarious, and maybe even literary. Thanks for pointing it out.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to this party, but I was actually thinking about how I might approach this in a completely hypothetical sermon last night (no, I'm not a preacher, my wife is, oops, there go my conservative credentials...).

I DO think "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is a fairly accurate adaptation of God's approach to us. It does need some amplification to really work, though.

1. We're ALL sinners. I've done things that I will be forever ashamed of, and I know darned well God hated them. I'm probably going to keep doing things God hates, even though I really try not to. So, I don't get to stand on some plinth and rain down my love and hate on all you sinners, I'm here in the pigsty reaching for the grace of God just like you are.

2. I'm afraid that words of Jesus and Paul seem to pretty clearly point out that the only legitimate sexual expression is between a man and a woman in a committed relationship. It's important to point out that homosexual sex is NO MORE illegitimate than prostitutes, affairs, internet porn or even ogling some member of the other sex at the library. And none of those are worse sins than anger or gluttony or cheating on your taxes. I think there's pretty good evidence from the bible and from the recent explosion of internet porn/masturbation that sexual sin has more potential to warp our relationships and destroy our integrity than said gluttony, though.

3. The Christian church, if I read Jesus right, has virtually NOTHING to say to modern, secular culture. Perhaps in the case of abortion or genocide, where you can argue that the "widows and orphans" clause impels us to act, we must speak up. But in the case of the sins of consenting adults, our claim on them is to meet the Lord Jesus Christ, not to change their behavior. We're not going to create heaven on earth by mandating morality, heck, we're not even very good at creating heaven in church by trying to mandate morality.

The next part is really hard to put into words. I know many men and women that are broken because they have entertained a lifestyle of sexual immorality (or their partner has) and there is NO place for judging us! Praying for us, reaching out to communicate God's love, being the visible avatar of the man who said "come to Me all that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest"! Yeah, that I can get behind. "You sinner, repent!" Not gonna help anyone!

Anonymous said...

ummm...actually this phrase came from St. Augustine, not Ghandi.

Karl Onansson said...

Yes, the quote is definitely from St. Augustine. Ghandi used it as well, but in a different context! More like, 'turn the other cheek'. Come visit me at my blog http://whyhatethesin.blogspot.com/ to continue this discussion of 'hate the sin, love the sinner'. I think there's a lot of depth to this topic that deserves to be explored!

Anonymous said...

I grew up down the street from a church. It used to be our church until my mom got the cold shoulder from the patrons because my dad left. One day I remember a huge rally: anti-gay protestors standing on the street outside, all the typical signs. All of them claimed to be part of the church (it was a big church. I won't say the name, but the pastor used to be famous)The funny thing is, the pastor of the church openly accepted gays into his church. During one of his sermons, he preached against *any* extramarital sex, whether it was homosexual or heterosexual. His main argument against homosexuality was that it's not biologically possible to reproduce in such a union.