Told you I’d write this, didn’t I? Oh, unless you’re reading this before the post about being Too Levit to Quit (and you would as it’ll be above that one) in which case I have yet to tell you that I’m going to write about this, but will in the future…
The phrase ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ is a way of saying that we are not judging people by a lifestyle that we consider sinful. When we pronounce X or Y sinful we’re not saying we don’t like you. OK, that sounds alright, doesn’t it? That we’re able to stick to two key principles, not liking sin, loving other. And it’s Biblical, isn’t it?
Well, kinda, and that’s the problem. What we get in the Bible is the commandment to ‘love your neighbour’, but can you spot which bit that leaves out? Yup, no mention of hating our neighbour’s sin.
And I don’t think the Bible teaches it. You see, the phrase is always used in a situation of of dealing with a person (often with people whose sin is a part of their personality) and where Jesus just commands us to love, the tacking on of the ‘hate the sin’ part is simply an addition of judgement.It’s almost an excuse for our continued judgement on others rather than an unconditional love.
Now the Bible does teach two things that are similar:
- God hates sin. In a lot of defences for this phrase we are pointed to verses about how God hates sin and that somehow shows that we hate sin. But it’s not the same, God hates sin because it separates us from Himself and leads to our ultimate destruction, for us to try and take such a stance is to try and elevate ourselves into His realm. Just because you agree with your boss’s motivational speech does not give you the right to go espousing and enforcing it around the office.
- The Bible teaches us to hate sin for ourselves personally. In fact ‘hate’ isn’t the right word because what the Bible is teaching us is to avoid sin. To hate it as something we want to avoid, in the same way we might say we hate dog poo in the park. We’ll take this further because, well, it’s a Christian/poo analogy, how can we ignore it? We don’t hate the dog poo on someone else’s shoe, we feel bad for them and point it out, nor do we link the two in any way. It’s not their fault they stepped in poo/live-in-a-fallen-world.
Actually, when it comes to other people’s sins we are told to NOT judge them for it. It strikes me in writing the above poo analogy that, in the same way no one wants to step in poo, no one actually wants to sin. Either one is a Christian and doesn’t want to sin or they are not a Christian (or religious) and therefore don’t consider certain acts as sinful, but rather just, well, normal. That’s why as soon as a person becomes a Christian (i.e. realises that God does exist) they try to stop sinning. The only ‘person’ who has ever known God to exist and willfully sin is Satan.
So I think it’s time to retire this man-made commandment and stick to the one Jesus gave us, just to love our neighbours and from there perhaps we can point out that their sin is ruining their shoes and making them smell…
(all thoughts are my own and do not necessarily represent those of BT or Beanyman)
Do you agree? Disagree? Want to call me bad names? Start a conversation in the comments and together we can grow further.