You’ve heard it said that you are to “love the sinner but hate the sin.” This common Christianese phrase has a basis in Biblical truth, and is recited by church people as though it was red-letter text. But there are some problems with its use:
1) First, it’s decidedly NOT Biblical. Similarly worded, but decidedly different in meaning — and in bona fide red letters to boot — is the following: “You have heard that it was said, “love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” — from Matthew 5:43-44.
2) It’s hypocritical. ” … He straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” — John 8:7. ‘Nuff said.
3) It’s divisive and judgmental. Yes, there will be an accounting for all shortcomings … I will spend a lot of time recounting my own personal sins (ugh!) … As fallen humans, we ARE our sin, so when we condemn sin, we condemn the lost we are trying to reach with God’s message of grace and mercy. That turns people off, frankly. It turns God off, too — in Proverbs 6:16, when the Bible describes seven things the Lord hates, “haughty eyes,” and “a person who stirs up conflict in the community,” are prime among them. So until His return, we of the church need to try harder to be about His love and forgiveness.
And of course, like most Christianese, using the phrase usually displays a lack of critical thought, and instead is simply something that we’ve heard and parrot to others.
The Faith Deconstructed category offers an occasionally thoughtful, sometimes glib, always faithful look at today’s Christianity, from the perspective of a reformed skeptic.