Loving the Sinner, Hating the Sin?

penguin lust Loving the Sinner, Hating the Sin?


Back in the 80’s, when I got hold of the newspaper, the first thing I did was turn to the comics page and see what lunacy Opus, Milo and the rest of the weirdos in Bloom County were perpetrating. The strip you see above is part of story line where Bill the Cat became a television evangelist named Fundamentally Oral Bill. As with so many of that type, Oral Bill had to have a foil and, eventually landed on “penguin lust” (NOTHING BUT URGES FROM HELL!), saying that if God meant for there to be penguin lust, he would made Penny and Poppy the penguin rather than Adam and Eve. Opus, as the only penguin became the target of all the shame the good people of meadow society could pour out (he was attacked by a gang of wife-swapping inside traders), leading to his exile for several months. To me, this strip catches the true essence of the phrase “Hate the sin,  love the sinner”. When Tom Binkley says “But the Bible commands us to hate the sin and love the sinner. And, Opus, we all do love you. More precisely, we’d love you to move out.” Those three sentences show the unmitigated hypocrisy of the phrase “Hate the sin, love the sinner”.

To explore the idea that “hate the sin, lover the sinner” is hypocrisy, let’s look at some other “sins” from Leviticus, like tattoos for instance. Getting inked is all the rage these days. Not just kids either, I’ve seen everything from cops to construction workers to  50-year-old grandmothers with tattoos. Now, Leviticus 19:28 forbids us to “put marks onyourselves”.  Leviticus 11:7-9 prohibits the consumption of pork because it’s unclean. Leviticus 19:9-10 tells farmers and vinters to leave some of their crops in the field so the poor can glean enough to eat. All of these sins are found in roughly the same place as the supposed injunction against homosexuality. We all do these things so, according to Old Testament Jewish law, we are sinners. Yet, I never anyone saying they love me, but hate my sin of eating BBQ. Like I said, hypocrisy.

Then, there’s question of just how much people who use this phrase actually “love the sinner”, actually love the sinner. When people say they “hate the sin, but love the sinner”, they are attacking the very person they say they love. Whether you believe that homosexuality is a choice or just the way some folks are made, you must understand that a person’s sexuality is a large part of how they see themselves. By saying you “hate the sin” (meaning their sexual orientation), in their eyes, you’re saying you hate them. Now, it may be that these folks actually do believe they love LGBT people and only want to help them. However, the problem is one of perception. Granted, your intent is important. But, just as important is how your words or actions are perceived by the person you’ve directed them at. I mean, is love really love if it’s perceived as hate and persecution? Are you really loving the sinner when you tell them you’d love for them to move out? Does love drive your actions when you enact legislation that denies equal protection under the law for every couple except for married men and women? If so, that’s not like any kind of love I’ve ever seen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/furrycelt Ian Wilson

    oy vey, every time i hear that phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” it really chaps my arse. because i know that the context is homosexuality, and i know it is used for people who want to sleep well at night and yet still act like assholes.

    but this phrase can apply to others besides homosexuals (or as i like to call them: “humans”). a drug addict is one who clearly needs to be loved, yet will be difficult to love, and their “sin” is very destructive to themselves and everyone around them.

    but we are all sinners, no? and sin is always destructive. but love wins, and God’s Love for us is more powerful. so the last three words are really unnecessary. we should just say “love the sinner”. and since they are sinners and we are sinners and no sin is really more important than other… we should drop two more words. that phrase would be most effective if it was just “Love”.

    that’s the story of Christianity, isn’t it? powerful and awesome goodness, but with lots of baggage and garbage piled on.

    but back to the problem of folks with the gay… the problem with the “Christian” Conservative mindset is that they fully believe their brand of “love” is true love, good love, the best love, proper love. because they see homosexuality just like drug addiction. a bad choice that was made, a choice that is life destroying. even those that accept that some people are born that way, will so easily say “but that doesn’t make it right, we are to deny our sinful nature.”

    but if they really LOVED others as Christ commanded, then they would look into the hearts of “those gays”. they would have empathy. they would see that how utterly complex and intrinsic one’s sexual orientation is. they would not judge so quickly and harshly. and condemn so easily.

  • Chris Simes

    Man, I miss Bloom County! And Calvin and Hobbes. Those were the best strips ever, period- they were hysterical, but even more they exposed the lack of logic, hypocrisy, hatefulness, and double standards of “conservative” politics and religion. Of course, they periodically did the same with the liberals…

    If Jesus was clear about anything, it is that we are to love each other without condition, as he did, and leave the judgements up to God. As humans, we never know enough to judge rightly, and we never will. We only see things “dimly”, and we always judge dimly.

    It is not humanly possible to “love the sinner and hate the sin”. Because once you let hate into the picture, it grabs the wheel and steers the car. The whole of human history proves this.

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