Things the Church Should Stop Saying (Part 2)

Last week I said that the church should stop saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

I still stand by that. It’s petty and cliche and something Christians should stop saying.

Last week I also said I wasn’t even sure if hating the sin while loving the sinner was possible.

Then Gerry left this comment (go HERE to read it in its entirety):

I loved that man and still do. I can’t wait to see him again and dance on the streets of Heaven with him.

But I hate his sin. With everything within me, I hate it, hate it, hate it. It stole his life from him before he knew how to live it. I want to punch it in the head, then hit it with a baseball bat, cut it in little pieces and spit on every piece.

Don’t tell me I don’t love him because I hate what killed him. He was my friend and I didn’t see you or any other love-niks there while his 6.5 frame shrunk to 110 pounds of sallow and scary skin, and he begged me to just hold his hands and pray for him while he struggled so hard to breathe.

And while I am spewing hate, I hate the drug addiction that separated Mike from his boys and made him an abusive, hurtful Dad. I hate it! Or the Oxy addiction that caused Rita to give blow jobs for another stupid pill. I hate it!

Obviously Gerry hated sin. And loved his friend.

So I was wrong. It is possible. This led me to my next question:

How? And why did Gerry’s story come across so overwhelmingly full of love and compassion, while the phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner” still rings false and hateful to me?

* * * * *

Gerry finished off his comment with the following thought:

If you are not skilled and good at loving the sinner while hating the sin, I doubt if you get out much, around sinners that is.

That’s it. That’s how it’s done. Because if I truly love someone, the mistakes they make that lead to their own pain will make me love them more, even while hating the thing that brings them pain. But if this person is some far off stranger, someone I don’t know and don’t care to get to know, then fear will drive me to hate not only what’s killing them. I’ll start hating them as well.

That’s what fear does.

* * * * *

Another piece of the puzzle, offered in the comments by my friend Maria:

If we are willing to be known by others, faults and all, it is a little easier to love. If we are willing to accept the nonsensical love that God offers, it is easier to love. Let’s be real. We are all a complete mess, entirely hopeless. Then God intervenes and we have all of this acceptance, forgiveness, redemption, possibility. It is amazing. It is truly beyond comprehension and surely beyond words. From this place of acknowledging mercy, we can begin.

That’s where I want to start.

* * * * *

Other similar posts include:

Things the Church Should Stop Saying
The Opposite of Love is not Hate
Words the Church Should Stop Using: Sin

5 Replies to “Things the Church Should Stop Saying (Part 2)”

  1. You know where I think this phrase is tripping you up? There is a distinction that gets made between “sins” we cannot help because of our “nature” like pride and that we can accept in anyone, and “sins” that we judge as conscious choices, like homosexuality, that make this phrase unlikely. Further, the word and understanding of “sin” is also clouding this. Is sin our nature or is sin a behavior? We have oversimplified sin to be behavioral actions instead of having a nature that leaves us unable to live life in healthy and full ways without God.

    Why are we even afraid to love someone who consciously “sins” according to our own personal lexicon? And you are right, because we do not know them. Why do Christians get so angry at sinning behaviors if they know deep down that they are sinful every day of their lives due to their nature? This is something Christians need to stop doing – projecting their own shame around their own sin onto the world of unbelievers.

    1. “projecting their own shame around their own sin onto the world of unbelievers”

      That may just get at the heart of it. It is easier to live in denial about our sinfulness and project shame outward than it is to bravely acknowledge our utter hopelessness without Grace. That is surely true in my own life. That is very humbling. Well put, Jason.

  2. There is a distinction that gets made between “sins” we cannot help because of our “nature” like pride and that we can accept in anyone, and “sins” that we judge as conscious choices, like homosexuality,

    I never thought I would see “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” as a double-edge sword that could serve as a cover for our own longings. Your comment reveals how very wrong I was.


      1. That even our most passionately held beliefs (our assurances of things hoped for) may just reflect what we personally want to be true. Basically, we’re talking about the problem raised in Matthew 23:28.

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