Attention! Due to some valid points and concerns raised over this post, I’ve written a follow-up piece you can read here.
“LOVE the sinner, but HATE the sin.”
I hear that crap-tastic comment tossed around like it’s the mission statement of Christians everywhere for the 21st century.
Any time I have students that go out and get hammered and wake up in a van wearing a Spiderman costume only to trudge their way across campus I get to hear that Christian ethos tossed in my face about their behavior.
What a crock….
Yeah I said it.
Do you realize what a ridiculous saying that is??? Do you realize just how stupid it makes you look when you say it? Here let me put it in perspective for you.
By saying “Love the sinner and hate the sin” you’re effectively saying, “I love you, but everything you take pleasure in, everything that you find enjoyable, everything about your lifestyle, I HATE?”
PLEASE PLEASE tell me how you can love someone but effectively hate everything about them!?? It makes no sense!
“Oh I love you, but I hate your homosexual lifestyle”
You just said you hate them!
As if this method ever REALLY works……
Do you see why the rest of the world and even Christians that have fallen into sin feel so judged even when you’re trying to love them? Because you’re not. You love the potential version of themselves without sin instead of loving them where they’re at with their flaws. And the grand irony in you loving a version of themselves that’s more “cleaned up” is that God says your righteous acts are like used menstrual rags before him (Isaiah 64:6. Look it up. Filthy rags is really translated “used menstrual rags” in Hebrew), AND there’s never not going to be a version of you without sin!
Now before I get a tall dose of Hater-ade in the comments sections from Christians who are like, “But God says he hates sin in the bible!”
Yeah, God also says he hates divorce, but it doesn’t say he hates the divorcee. He hates the affects of sin and what it does to his creation.
Think about it. If your friend is a raging alcoholic you probably hate the fact he’s destroying his life and harming his body, right? You hate the effects of what’s happening, but if he’s truly your friend then you don’t hate him for being an alcoholic do you? You hate the effects of what it’s doing.
Christians everywhere have bought into the biggest lie ever where we think that somehow we have to let people know what we hate or disapprove of in order to make sure we don’t give Jesus a black eye. And instead of hurting for our friends and having compassion we end up hating them because we want to be seen as righteous. The Pharisees in the Bible have this same problem that we have, but Jesus, God in the flesh, demands we act differently.
Let me show you what I mean.
Early in the morning he (Jesus) came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.
Okay, so they’re trying to trap Jesus here. Here’s the thing about trapping Jesus though. It’s really hard because He’s God. So it’s kinda like this. When I was in youth ministry, high school kids would always try to play pranks on you at youth camp. But their plan was just intrinsically flawed from the beginning. They’re all dressed like ninjas, but it’s 2:00 in the afternoon. “Wow, didn’t see you guys in broad daylight cause you were dressed in black…cool outfit” It’s just a flawed prank from the get-go. So here’s the trap with Jesus and it’s a dumb trap: If Jesus doesn’t demand her death, He’s broken the Law of Moses, BUT if Jesus demands her to be stoned to death, he lacks mercy and compassion. There’s the trap. No matter what He does, they’ve got Him. No matter what He does here, they’ve got Him cornered, except for the whole “I’m God” thing.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
(John 8:2-11 ESV)
Now get this picture. Here you have this woman. Her clothes are probably torn, she’s probably been dragged through the street, cowering and shivering, and thinks she’s going to die for sure. The Law demands it. And then one by one her accusers, oldest first…..Now why older? Cause there’s an arrogance to youth isn’t there? “I’m not that bad! My junk isn’t THAT big a deal….” But old men….they know where they’ve jacked up in their life.
So, they drop their stones and leave. Every last one of them. And then imagine this: Jesus, gently bending down towards this cowering woman and I imagine lifting her head softly so he can look her in the eyes and smile, says “Who condemns you? No one? Then neither do I….”
Now here’s the madness in that story. Jesus doesn’t ask her if she’s sorry does he? He doesn’t demand a firm amendment to her ways! “Better get that adultery thing cleaned up. Check back with me in a day so I can make sure you’re not sleeping around again….” He just say’s “go and sin no more.” He certainly doesn’t seem too concerned that she’s going to run back into her lovers arms after some time has passed, does he? She just cowers there and gets absolution before she even asks.
I don’t think anyone of us would have been like, “shoulda stoned her, Sledge” but here’s what we’d demand even if we’re being gracious: A gratuitous apology and continual check-ups making sure she’s changed otherwise WE KNOW she’d be back in adultery before sundown.
But ah! The love of god, his grace and mercy….it’s so undignified and apparently based on what we just read and the rest of the Gospels, he expects us to behave in the same manner. God offers us this inexplicable, embarrassing type of love that once we accept it he expects us to show it to others. I can live with God loving me scandalously, but I think knowing that we have to show that type of love to someone else is a hard pill to swallow isn’t it?
And so therefore, we’re not really honest with people are we?
Because we don’t want to love them like Jesus does we invent stupid catchphrases like, “Love the sinner but hate the sin!” so we can secretly hate what we don’t approve of in their lives.
Let’s stop loving and lying like Pharisees, where we can pretend externally, but hate internally. I think it’s all time we learned a lesson in grace, and maybe take some stock in our hearts about where we’ve lied to ourselves about really loving people.