Hate the sin Love the sinner…REALLY???

hate the sin love the sinner really

by Kenneth Justice

~”Hate the sin, love the sinner” Ever hear that before? Growing up in an Evangelical Christian community I heard it quite a bit. Oddly enough, I only ever heard it in the context of homosexuality…..and I never heard my brother and sisters in Christ say it about themselves.

After all….its not like homosexuality is the only behavior that Evangelical Christians object to…..but in all my years I never heard my fellow Christians say;

—) Hate the sin….but love the Christian who gossips

—) Hate the sin….but love the Christian who is an overeating glutton

—) Hate the sin….but love the Christian who doesn’t give a damn about the poor

Do you notice the trend; “hate the sin, love the sinner” has somehow become an evangelical talking point when it comes to the subject of homosexuality or gay marriage…….

I have serious problems with the attitude behind the mindset of ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’….because when we think this way it creates an “Us versus Them” mentality. Putting the issue of homosexuality aside, when we use talking points like “hate the sin, love the sinner” it relegates the person who says it to being nothing more than a cliché; a walking sound byte void of any sincere love and emotion for their fellow human beings.

For those of you who have children; how would your little ones feel if every day you threw in their face the things you believe is ‘wrong’ about them and you followed it with a trite sounding, ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ ???

The truth of the matter is that I know a lot of people who grew up in homes where their parent(s) were extremely critical and constantly confronted the children over every behavior and area in which the parents believed the children were ‘wrong’. That kind of home suffocates the children….and more often than not the children end up resenting their parents.

Most Christians believe that if the ‘bible says it’ then they have an obligation to hurl selected verses towards others and say, “hey, look, God says fill-in-the-blank is sinful, I’m just the messenger” and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who do this come off looking like nasty bible-verse slingers; its like they are Clint Eastwood with bible verses in their holsters ready to shoot any unsuspecting pedestrian who gets in their way.

But Kenneth, I’m a Christian and the bible clearly says I have an obligation to tell others what the bible says!” is what many of my fellow Christians tell me.

Really??? Are you sure about that?

It always fascinates me that my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ love to talk about ‘imitating Christ’ and doing what ‘Jesus would do’….yet they rarely admit a very simple observation; Jesus spent more time condemning the religious leaders and religious hypocrites than he spent condemning the average-Joe on the side of the road.

According to the CDC;

—) 69.2% of adults over the age of 20 are overweight

—) 35% of adults over the age of 20 are obese

Thus, we can expect that 69.2% of Christians are overweight and 35% of Christians are obese…….and yet even though the bible talks about gluttony and overeating between 50 and 100 times….I have almost never heard Christians walk up to each other after the Sunday morning service and say, “You are in sin because you’re fat…but even though I hate your sin I love you

According to the Washington Post,

—) The average unsecured household debt in America is $15,000

The bible says that Christians are supposed to ‘bear each other’s burdens’ and to “make sure there are no needs among those in the church’….yet why aren’t Christians confronting the more affluent in the congregation and saying, “You’re in sin for not helping to alleviate the debt of the poorer Christians…..I hate your sin but I still love you

So why don’t Christians regularly walk up to each other and focus on other sins that the bible clearly talks about and follow it with the little cliché ‘hate the sin love the sinner’……..because its not very nice to do that!

Because if you do that to other Christians at church on Sunday morning….they aren’t going to like you!

Do you see the problem with the ‘hate the sin love the sinner’ sound byte; Evangelical Christians who use it regularly have successfully created an ‘Us versus Them” culture war. They don’t use it on themselves because they wouldn’t have very many Christian friends if they did…….

Instead of ‘being like Jesus” and spending the majority of their time confronting religious hypocrites……sadly, my fellow Christians spend the majority of their time railing against non-Christians, people in other denominations, etc. and using trite little phrases like “hate the sin love the sinner”.

When Jesus wasn’t busy railing against the pastors and priests of his day….he was spending his time with the poorest of the poor. He was spending his time with the sick, the infirm, the hungry, widows, and people that the rich ‘believers’ did not want to spend their time around.

Perhaps I’m simply a loon, but the Jesus in the bible sure doesn’t look like the Jesus that a lot of my fellow Christians portray……..I think a really need another cup of coffee this morning,








Categories: Religion

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77 replies

  1. I’ve always pictured the verse-bullets as well. And it does feel that way, I agree.

  2. I love this. Can I forcibly make someone read this?

  3. Preaching beautiful words but unable to really do them themselves. Repeating to tell others but doing nothing. how hypocritical is that.
    As you said Jesus ( yes I read the bible) cared about the lowest of low and embraced them,loved them. never pointing a finger unless it was about making money in a church/temple.
    Here is one as well. If 1 of 30 households cannot pay food for their 2 children. then if each of the 29 give 1 can of veg, 2 potatoes and pork chop it means that poor family has almost a month of food. It cost each of the other house hold (guessing here) 4 dollars? Sharing the burden isn’t so costly.
    Help those people get back on their feet so that they to, can help others again. Isn’t that what Jesus taught as well.

    • RantingCrow,

      On a number of occasions I have talked to priests and pastors about challenging the doctors and dentists in their congregations to give free medical service to those who can’t afford it,

      and I’ve also asked them about challenging the wealthy in the congregation to pay of the debts of the poor…….every time they say, “oh, well, uh…yea…I guess that is a good thing to do…..”

      but they never do it.

    • Here is an article http://news.yahoo.com/pope-banishes-germanys-luxury-bishop-diocese-103154932.html that makes you wonder what happens else where. Mind this is a catholic bishop but it is the thought about teaching one and doing another

    • Wow dude, at least the pope took action….but it is stories like that which we here too often…..I’d love to hear a story about a priest or local church that made a point to help everyone in their care get a good job, pay off their debts, help them get a good place to live, etc…….

    • “Help those people get back on their feet so that they to, can help others again. Isn’t that what Jesus taught as well”

      And, YES!

  4. …the Jesus I see MY so called friends and the like portraying/speaking…IF that is who Jesus is and the representation of heaven IS ?
    I dont want to go.


  5. Bravo, Kenneth. I’m not a Christian, or any other kind of religionist, but I admire Jesus for the reasons you state. It seems to be a law of nature that disciples of whatever fall miserably, and often ironically, short of their ideals. I often wonder why Christians spend so much time in the OT, where vengeance is the emphasis, and not in the NT, where mercy and forgiveness is. Even there, the Romans felt compelled to throw in Paul and John the Divine, as Jesus seemed too wimpy, I suppose. Hardly seems any point in bringing Jesus into the thing at all.

    • Mikels,

      It’s been very frustrating for me being a Christian, that here we (me and my fellow Christians) have this dude (Jesus) who is arguably the greatest roe model when it comes to charity, the poor, the oppressed, etc……yet that dimension of Jesus is largely ignored in the various churches

  6. In reply of your comment about a priest making a difference. we have a bishop who says it is okay to steal a bread. His name will always be remembered for that.
    In this article he is honoured for his work and what he was like, I think he is a funny man and true http://incaelo.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/bishop-liesens-words-at-the-death-of-bishop-muskens/
    A huge contrast of earlier article.if you aslk me

  7. I have had similar thoughts about that world famous ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ bit…. there are other behaviors to add to the list .. .smoking, drinking, and (like in my grandmother’s generation) dancing, gambling, and playing cards…. all those were so NAUGHTY…. As a Christian, I have always had a soft spot for looking for the ‘fruits’ of what we do…. and that phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner’ sure seems a fruitless pile, doesn’t it?

    • Charles,

      Yup there are a ton of “naughty” behaviors that us Christians love to rail against…..and I’m with you….the phrase doesn’t have any good fruit in it

  8. I was actually just thinking about this the other day. Sometimes I feel like people lose what it means to be part of the church and to believe in God. It’s easy to think that, since you already have faith, the battle is already won so now you just have to fix everyone else. The thing is, though, the battle starts over every day, and every day we have to do our best to show what it really means to have faith, and that means being loving, accepting, and humble even when it feels impossible. Part of being humble means recognizing sin inside yourself, and the other part of being humble is bringing others along with you on the way to forgiveness. It’s kind of like the story about the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple. Being all high and mighty isn’t going to help anyone. However, humbling yourself enough to beg forgiveness will open you up to His love in a way you never knew possible, and only then can we begin to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  9. Its easier to see in others what we cant see in ourselves, this is true in almost every belief system or way of life, its so instinctive it causes me personally to believe that its a natural occurence, although i have nothing to back up this statement with. An us creates comfort for an individual, a place of belonging and definition, but in a universe of opposites for their to be an “us” their also must be a “them”.

    We use this method to define ourselves to tell us who we are through religion or social norms, so its hard to expect people to stop, but if we can understand that then we can look at their actions and find reason within them, and to show understanding after all are they not just a product of society themselves, in a way it comes back to your saying hate the sin ( the reason the way they are), but love the sinner (understand that the person is just a victim of negative experiences.

    Although i agree with you that over using a statement and especially mis using it is not effective in any way, and also wish that there was more of an understanding, live and let live policy amongst the more religous among us

  10. “Us and Them” creates enormous gulfs that are completely unnecessary and makes people doubt their own convictions and beliefs. Worse, one’s spiritual beliefs are called into question, which makes their defense even stronger, which widens the gulf….

  11. It’s odd how the verse-slingers forget this one:

    “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” ~ Matthew 7:5

    • Kim,

      I think part of the problem when it comes to hypocrites is that they view their “problems/sins/etc” as being ‘not very bad’ and they view other issues as ‘very bad’: they demonstrate no humility whatsoever

  12. A geat blog. There is a lot of truth in what you stated. Many thanks.

  13. Yes we all sin and we hate sin. The glass, however, can be viewed ‘half-full’. We (believers) are being perfected by the Lord each day so we are not yet there. We can look at ourselves as gluttonous sinners or we can pray for God to continue to do a good work in us.

    We give to others as God calls us and not to fulfill a ratio of haves to have nots (although all are deserving of our asking and prayer). We try to love always.

    There is a lesson about the poor – giving away their last bit food to show faith in God’s providence. Let us have a deeper faith and trust He provides, hate sin, and listen to how God leads us to give.

    Above all keep loving as Jesus loved.

    • Rick,

      “we give to others as god calls us…”

      That seems a tad bit ambiguous…..doesn’t the bible clearly say to “make sure there are no needs among you, starting within the church”…..thus; if there are people in debt in the church (which there are!) …then why aren’t Christians taking care of this need?

      I know of people who work second jobs to pay for their health insurance….even though there are people in their congregation who are millionaires and who could afford to help out….

      Where are the priests and pastors who should be calling out the Christians who “have” to help out the Christians who ” don’t have” ?

      I’m not talking about income equality, or communism or socialism, etc…..I’m merely talking about meeting the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ…

    • We get the tithe message every week. The tithe goes to keep the church going, missions going, and helps the ones who are in need in our church.

      not ambiguous at all. all we do should be in prayer and at the leading of the Holy Spirit. A Christian knows this. It seems ambiguous, but is not as technical as it may sound.

      God has us all where we are for some reason or another. It is sometimes more that we can understand with our finiteness. Some of the poor may need the faith of the widow (of Scripture) first then reap His reward. If we all seek, we will give accordingly. Just give and pray others will. Just love and too pray others will.

    • We should ask ourselves first. “Why aren’t we…” Before we start asking “Why aren’t others…”.

      I may have missed your point. But it reads a little cynical and invites cynicism. That tears what little is left of church down rather than help edify the Body.

      Sorry, I don’t mean to come off personal – i do not mean to. All I am saying is do it ourselves first…let the church and others do as they see and hear from God.

      One more thing, heaven and hell are eternal so how we view the Body (that is still in sin) hopefully will not make our eternal decisions. I pray it won’t.

      Peace and love in Christ always

  14. I strongly dislike that phrase too but I think it’s more because it’s almost like giving them permission to be hypocrites. They don’t use it on themselves because that would mean actually being somewhat self-aware and who wants to do that? It’s an incredibly condescending phrase and I can’t stand it. I also dislike it because it uses the word “hate.” Any time you include that word you open yourself up to strong, displaced feelings. Oh yeah, and they almost never use it as it’s said either – hate is almost always used against the person NOT the sin as they claim. It’s hypocrisy in more ways than one. Great post! 🙂

  15. Culturemonk makes great sense. I would like to see his/your blogs compiled in a published book!

  16. Fantastic post! I will be sharing this with some old church friends!

  17. great post! I’m not religious in any way, but it always turned me off to watch the christians act the way they do when they’re supposed to be acting like Jesus. The only real benefit I can see from belonging to a church is the community aspect of it. If they can’t help each other like a REAL community would, what is the point?

    • Jill, your last sentence is stellar and it is exactly what I’m getting at; what is the point of me and my fellow Christians calling ourselves a community if we are going to have the attitude that it’s every man and woman for themselves

    • The point first is obedience to God and praise to Him for grace we do not deserve, Sorry you can’t see the point that we are all fallen need a path to Salvation and a span to a personal God. Church is not one big bake sale….I still say look at yourself first. What are you doing?

    • I look at it as two-fold. I accept the doctrine and tradition of my faith; I see it as a focus and a direction to my search for truth. I am LDS (Mormon), but I also study the Eastern paths, especially philosophical Taoism, and I see no conflict for myself, personally. On the other hand, yes, I think community and fellowship is important, and I was told that my practices of lay ministry called “home teaching” as well as my wife’s “visiting teaching” is like the practices of the early Chirstian church, where members visited each other in their homes. I think it is important for me to go to church and other meetings to serve those that are in my ward (congregation) as well as the stake (regional area of congregations). It allows me to get outside myself and see to the needs of others– but of course, I try to be mindful of my neighbors generally, too.

      I see it as yin and yang, two halves of a whole– discipleship as a matter of study, and practice. I am okay with doing it within the context of organized religion, but I honor and respect my friends that choose to travel outside that context.

  18. I think the Christian messed up when they made Jesus a subject of worship.

    That automatically placed his teaching aspect in the second row . . .

    and automatically set up the us vs them syndrome. . . The chosen vs the unchosen. . . the heaven bound vs those rest who are doomed to eternal hell . . .

    It’s not hard to see why the church is in such a fix these days. Their stone age doctrines have more holes in them than a target bucket on a shooting range . . .

  19. That’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve been addressing over in my blog. The idolatry that the Bible is so dead-set against seems to actually be currently surrounding the figure of Jesus, even though he even spoke out against putting him on a pedestal!

  20. *stands up and applauds you*

    nuff said

  21. Refreshing to hear you say this…even more so because of your Christian upbringing. How about if we all just set a good example for others to imitate…then we would all be happier.

  22. Reblogged this on A Gay Christian Blog and commented:
    Kenneth makes an excellent point in this post. It is often the “hate the sin, love the sinner” approach, especially the hipocracy of only applying it to homosexuality that drives so many LGBT from Christianity.

  23. Thank you for such a wonderful post.

  24. Yep, I’ve heard “hate the sin, love the sinner” quite a bit too, Kenneth, and in precisely that context of homosexuality– but probably not quite as directly since my faith is outside the evangelical tradition.

    The “us vs. them” culture war is indeed bitter and toxic. It’s very frustrating and very painful. There are extremists on both sides, and I feel that have been condemned by both. I’m not just told I’m perverted and sinful; I’m told I’m lying to myself, deceitful, and hateful. I have been stalked and harassed because I choose to live a certain way despite the orientations of myself and my wife. If I’m not met with derision, I’m met with confusion. I sensed that many people believe you’re either gay, or you’re straight– and if you’re somehow in-between, much less trying to change or put aside aspects of orientation for matters of faith– then you should not be trusted.

    Yes, quite a few are lashing out in pain from the hurts of their religious upbringing, including attitudes of family, but sadly, it doesn’t necessarily make them as tolerant of other experiences as they might claim. It would take me too long to enumerate them here, but I will say that unfortunately there can be hypocrisy all around, especially on the battlefields of the Internet. Fortunately I have met some wonderful people that care about me and what I have to say, even though our experiences and outlook are different– and we have made different choices accordingly. Individual members of my church might question this, but as far as what I understand what our leadership teaches us, I am just fine.

    • Jaklumen,

      my heart goes out to you man…..I can’t imagine how tough it has been to keep yourself grounded mentally and emotionally in the midst of so many people around you who haven’t demonstrated very much grace toward you.

    • It’s made me stronger… it has been tough, but I held to what I experienced to be true and real. I’ve also been fortunate that I had enough people who loved me (in spite of their own problems), and that was also a source of strength. I have awesome in-laws, for one– they are much more sanguine about my struggle in this regard than my folks are. Odd, but, it helps.

  25. Wonderful post….there are altogether too many Christian hypocrites out there.

  26. Not to mention (or maybe someone mentioned it already in the comments?) that “hate the sin, love the sinner” implies, in a way, that whoever is saying it is not a sinner himself/herself.

  27. I agree completely with everything you have said. I have two far-right religious brothers, and our fundamental differences have created a huge wedge between us. Something neither will admit to, but betray by the way they treat me.

  28. I guess I can color myself naive and mostly by choice. I’ve never heard that saying in my 44 years on this Earth. I have had lots of people throw bible verses at me for loving a lesbian or a homosexual man but hey, should I cast out my daughter or my cousin? I think not. I’ve always been a different kind of thinker early on. I think possibly I was born in the hippie age, though I wasn’t. I’ve always tried to not judge anyone, though of course I do, I am human.

    I believe Judgment is best left to the One who is the Judge and my job is to treat people as I wish to be treated.

  29. Being a semi-Agnostic (if there’s such a thing), your message resonates strongly even outside the context of Jesus and faith. Let’s face it: we are a self-absorbed society that passes judgment on a whim, usually without taking into account the bigger picture as it relates to who people truly are versus the labels we put on them. How about replacing “hate the sinner” with “a little tolerance?” There’s that other faith-based saying, “Do unto others….” Perhaps churches, schools, and especially parents should be teaching more on perspective and humanity than rights and wrongs based on one’s faith or myopic beliefs.

    • Dave,

      ‘semi-agnostic (if there’s such a thing)’…well isn’t merely being agnostic being a ‘semi-athiest’/’semi-god believer’ in that you’re waiting for more evidence either way?

      thanks for the good comments 🙂

  30. Hi Kenneth,
    First, thank you for visiting my blog and leading me back to yours. Reading your post and your follower’s replies is uplifting. We each are on our own spiritual/faith path–it makes no sense to have an “us and them” mentality–especially if one is follower of Jesus–and/or respects the work of the Dali Lama, and folks like Desmond Tutu. Please continue to stimulate this needed dialogue. Blessings, Barb

  31. I agree with what you’re saying, especially now how the Bible is very open to interpretation. The hardest part I have with Contemporary Christianity is the fact that much of the newer translations are so far from the original text that leaders have found it “useful” in swaying the Scripture in their own interest.

    In response to your “like” on my blog about the Misconception of Christianity and Homosexuality, I think it’s safe to say that if we googled “the Bible and homosexuality,” one of the first links is to the about.com site. Almost every verse used in this site used the NLT version which states explicitly “homosexuality is a sin.” If we contrast that with the KJV or NIV versions, well, my blog pretty much outlined the context of what the verses were actually referring to.

    But your point about gluttony, greed and so forth, ironically the verses in 1 Corinthians just before the part about “sexual immorality” specify that we must not enter into lawsuits against each other. Now compare this with how big churches these days handle being sued, or how the Catholic Church handled their case against the Pope and his child molestation charges a few years back…

    I think it’s safe to say that the contemporary church has completely diverged the fundamental Teachings of Christ in the name of Christ Himself. Is this not blasphemy?

    • “But your point about gluttony, greed and so forth, ironically the verses in 1 Corinthians just before the part about “sexual immorality” specify that we must not enter into lawsuits against each other. Now compare this with how big churches these days handle being sued, or how the Catholic Church handled their case against the Pope and his child molestation charges a few years back… ”

      yea, I kind of had that in mind while I was writing 🙂

  32. Amazing, reblogging at Affirmative Atheist

  33. Love this post Kenneth. I had a discussion with some people a while ago about this “trite” phrase and we came to the conclusion that many people say this as it relates to homosexuality because it’s the one thing that many Christians aren’t. Many of us, if not all, are guilty of gluttony, mismanaging money, lying, etc at one time or another. But, in my opinion, since homosexuality is a lifestyle that some have chosen to live then Christians jump on the bandwagon to set them straight. Meanwhile, we need to be set straight ourselves, on a continuous basis, concerning many things.

    How about “Love the sinner as Jesus does and leave the chastising up to Him.”

  34. I like this post’s main point, but comparing obesity to not giving money to the poor doesn’t really make sense in context of the fact that many people are fat /because/ they’re living in poverty. Being fat isn’t a sin.

  35. Awesome post. I once really offended someone who was criticizing a church because the pastor admitted to having a problem quitting smoking. I told them “at least he’s trying to quit. If we dismiss a pastor because he smokes then we must ask all the fat ones to step down too!” Didn’t go over too well.

  36. You really put it well. It sometimes seem like the church singles out the verses against stuff they dont like (homosexuality and abortions!) but forget those other awful things that the bible tells us to do/not to do. I have written on gay rights in Zambia (where you can get locked up for it) here http://lifeinz.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/locked-up-for-love-the-gay-rights-in-zambia/ Oh, and thanks for liking my post, that lead me to your very perculiar blog!

  37. now that is funny. i was just talking about this to someone yesterday. if i had a nickle for every time i’ve heard that phrase, i could buy you, your blog, and the state you live in. “hate the sin, but love the sinner” translation: YOU ARE A SINNER. i’ve just about given up on religion altogether.

  38. sorry, i meant to put this in as support. if you have time or inclination to read a half-humerous, all angry post


  39. I was going to write on the same topic in the near future, but you said it better than I had envisioned my post would be. It isn’t often that I have nothing to add, except THANK YOU!

    • Well, I’m sure there is a lot more that can be said on the topic…and I think that the more of us who discuss the topic the more we can help to encourage people to use social media for good purposes and not bad

  40. What do you think about this CS Lewis quote regarding ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’?

    “I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. …I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life — namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”
    C. S. Lewis

  41. Jesus’ 12 desciples were regular Joe’s from the side of the street. He told them to take up their crosses and follow him and die. Gays should repent from their sin just like those “preachers” back in the day, of which were Jewish Pharisees who did not believe in Jesus at all, and self-righteous people today who cast judgment on everyone but themselves… Just my two cents.

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