Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin: a rallying cry for bigots

“Love the sinner hate the sin”. Despite its non-Christian origin this little catch phrase has become the battle cry of homophobes and bigots in churches everywhere.

This is the line used by pastors and excitable members in the congregation who are just looking for a biblical excuse to step on anyone who is different to “us”.  It’s a cure all, cover all. By this logic if you’re loving the sinner not the sin, then your hatred of a person’s lifestyle isn’t really hate at all. It’s actually love, right? You love them so much that you want to make them feel miserable in their own skin – to the point where their soul will be saved. 

If the church “loves the sinner, but not the sin” it can say it isn’t discriminating. When we deny people the right to get married and to share the same legal benefits as heterosexuals, when we give the public an excuse to turn a blind eye to bullying in schools we can still sleep at night, because we’re doing a good job of persecuting “sin”.

When we chase gays out of the church, we aren’t really going against the New Testament’s teachings that those whom we deem to be living “against the Law” may actually be the closest to God among us.  No, we are ridding the church of “sin”.  It’s unfortunate that we have to put that sin inside of an individual and personify the sin so that we see “sin” rather than a human being.  This is what allows this bigotry to persist.

The New Testament is clear in its condemnation of those who would divide people into groups of “clean” and “unclean”. If a sin is to be pointed out it is the hypocricy of churches who try to call others “unclean” ignoring the stench coming from inside their own house. Instead of the teachings of love, we have co-opted the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sinner” as an excuse to turn our bigotry and discrimination into “love”.

This is leads to the kind of thinking that you can smash a boy down and beat a man out him. It’s not abuse by this logic – it’s a form of love: the kind of love that wants to save someone from the flames of hell. To follow this logic through, one needs to pick verses of the bible selectively: let’s ignore prohibitions on eating shellfish as obviously not applying to us, but still hone in on verses about sexuality that differed from the mainstream. Presto, our discrimination is nothing more than a form of tough love.

After all, it’s just a massive co-incidence that our personal God shares the same prejudices as we do. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that we have a fear of others who are different to us, right?

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4 Comments

  1. Kid Charlemagne,

    Somehow, incomprehensibly, you seem to have arrived at the conclusion that all Christians love hurting homosexuals; that we’re all reactionaries; that none of us has noticed the opprobrium our stand has brought against us or that we don’t care; that none of us has seen the arguments brought forth against us; that none of us has given any thoughtful consideration to those arguments.

    None of that is true. What you have done here has been very judgmental, very condemning, very much prejudiced, and for those reasons I would argue it has been very bigoted.

  2. Sadly, the reaction above just shows how judgmental and unloving we can be to each other. We are called to love others not for any ulterior motive than because Christ lives in us and we are expressing a love so radical and unconditional, so undeserving that it overflows from us. Let me tell you- I just learned this in the past month. Thank God for a gracious God because I was one of those bigots.

  3. Which “reaction above” are you referring to, Kid Charlemagne’s or mine? (I am asking this as a serious question.)

  4. Tom,
    I appreciate the question. If I am not mistaken, you took the time point out that Kid was being ” very judgmental, very condemning, very much prejudiced, ” You also felt that he was broad brushing all Christians and mentioned that “None of that is true.” So in effect- you were judging and broad brushing, yes?
    I just want to point out that though I may not agree with all the Kid says, I like the fact that he challenges conventional thought and exposes the pride and Pharisaical attitudes of today. He makes me look at my own motivations, he asks questions most are too afraid to ask. And this is where I prove his theory correct. Yes, maybe there are some of us who have learned to be Christian bigots and use the name of Jesus to do so. This post made me evaluate my own stance of homosexuals- do I love them because Jesus commands us to or do I have an ulterior motive behind it?( To befriend them so I can point out the error of their ways and convert them so I can have a notch on my witness belt)
    I would say, I have been a bigot for a very long time, point the finger at me. I am learning that Jesus loved those who he knew would not love Him, follow or believe in Him- not for any other reason than He loved. Radical. Unconventional. Hated by the Pharisees. I want to be like Jesus.

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