Hate the sin, love the sinner?
This statement raises several questions in my mind and is disturbing as well as comforting. Can you imagine God just bluntly cutting us permanently out of his existence because we don’t measure up to his standards? Yes, our insistence on living our way vs. His way does prevent us from being in his presence but He gave us a way.
But before exploring the statement above, the word “sin” needs to be defined.
• Sin according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
○ An offense against religious or moral law
○ Transgression of the law of God
• Sin according to the bible:
○ Transgression of God’s will/law
As we can see in both the secular meaning and biblical meaning, sin is simply anything that is in opposition to God’s will. This leads to the realization that we are ALL sinners as we, on our own, cannot be without sin due to our “self” nature (Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.)
• Is the statement “hate the sin, love the sinner” from the bible?
○ If it’s not from the bible, then where did it come from?
○ If it is biblical, has it been taken out of context?
• Should we banish those we love and that love us simply because of differing opinions or lifestyles or even because we perceive their sin as being worse than our own?
• Should we rather embrace them and accept their differences without judgment?
In reference to the case in points above, the statement in question does not come from the bible word for word nor is it stated directly at all. The continual and consistent messages throughout the bible does however, allow us to interpret a sense of God’s everlasting and unconditional love as well as his feelings in the matter of sin. Our mission here once we are enlightened to our need for redemption, is to relay that need to those around us with the same love God has imparted to us, not banishment. Judgement is the Lord’s.
I believe Christ came to not only die for our sins, but to also be an example of how we are to live out our lives while here on earth. The instance of the prostitute being persecuted and on the brink of being stoned to death certainly provides an example of the above statement. It also exposes the fact that we are all sinners, not without guilt or shame. Therefore, who are we to be judge and jury of another’s sin, for we all have sinned and are guilty.
Why do I see the statement in question as disturbing? Because it’s very easy, for us in our imperfect state, to see a person’s sin as their identity and not a soul in need of God’s love. If that happens, we fail to be the light of God in the world. Why do I see it as comforting? Easy! Because it conveys God’s everlasting and unconditional love for us and them and we all have that love available through the blood Christ shed for our redemption.
References: The book of Matthew in the Bible