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What’s Wrong with “Hate the Sin; Love the Sinner?”

“Love the sinner, but hate the sin” is commonly tossed around to describe the proper Christian attitude toward men and women who are gay. It sounds good, doesn’t it? Isn’t that what God does? He loves us, even when we are sinners, but because He sees how sin ruins our lives and separates us from Him, He hates sin. So what’s the problem?

Well, first of all, God is wholly better at this than we humans are. We have a really hard time separating people from their sin; we tend to focus on the sin more than the person. We also tend to become rather judgmental – something Jesus warned us against in Matthew 7:1.

Sadly, when we get busy hating and condemning sin with all our might, sometimes that hatred begins to lead us into words and actions that hurt people – those very people we are supposed to be loving. Although the official church statement on homosexuality speaks of affirming the dignity of, and reaching out compassionately to homosexuals, one doesn’t have to look far to see words that fail to live up to this standard. Just a few examples in the comments of this blog (emphasis supplied):

God has not changed his view of sin. He hates sin, but loves the sinner. But, does that mean that SDAs must become politically correct, and not call it a sin that is heinous in God’s sight? We must have a God of love, for He has not destroyed all of the homosexuals that practice sodomy on a daily [basis] in San Francisco alone.

I think this is why we have so many SDA’s becoming sympathetic to the plights of gays today. Brothers and sisters, you’re being deceived; you’re on a downward slope that will inevitably end in your spiritual demise.

What is the matter with you people who are trying to justify homosexuality? Pathetic! You can’t be serious???

In its rawest sense male homosexuality is mostly about ‘lust and ma[n]ure‘ and female homosexuality deep into ‘lust and prost[het]ics’. Both are gross perversions of the natural bisexual act of sexual intercourse

Your thought process would find no problems with man acting on his attraction to sheep or the dead since they would only be additional variations.

Homosexuality is something that people are NOT born with. It is an environmental, familial, relational problem that develops. Over protective moms and absent fathers are patterns for many.

Homosexual men get more disease- both physical and mental, and they have higher chance of suicide. They end up lonely. These are not indicators of a healthy state!

Aside from denigrating the gays and lesbians (and their families) who read these words, such homophobia may suggest harmful actions to be taken. (See this for a history of violence toward gay men and women.) Disgust and condemnation, often expressed by Christians, seems to give license to those who tend to violence.

While many may have long since forgotten Matthew Shepherd, a young gay man in Wyoming who was savagely beaten, then tied to a barbed wire fence and left to die by two Christian heterosexual men, he is an example of many other gay, lesbian, and transsexual people who have also been persecuted, and a frightening reminder to homosexuals of what could happen to them under the wrong circumstances.

It was Christian “missionaries” who went to Uganda and propagandized against homosexuals, leading to the government’s bill to make homosexuality illegal and to institute the death penalty under some circumstances. Although exempting the death penalty, the Adventist union president publicly supported the rest of the bill.

Just last week a report by Michael Rowe appeared in the Huffington Post about a 17-month-old boy in New York:

According to authorities, the toddler had endured a savage beating. His tiny body had been repeatedly punched with closed fists and grabbed by the neck. By the time 911 had been called at dusk, he was already in cardiac arrest from the sheer brutality of the assault and it was too late to save his life.

Charged with manslaughter in the first degree and held without bail is the toddler’s mother’s live-in boyfriend, 20-year-old Pedro Jones, who was babysitting.

“I was trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl,” Jones explained. “I never struck that kid that hard before. A one-time mistake, and I am going to do 20 years.”

He told troopers that the little boy had been too feminine and that he’d been trying to toughen Roy up by literally beating the life out of him.

While Jones is a tragic example of the paradigm taken to deadly lengths, society’s discomfort with gender variance permeates nearly every part of the national dialogue and runs through every part of the culture.

It’s endemic in fundamentalist Christianity, which claims Biblical authority for rigid gender roles and, more importantly, the appearance of rigid gender roles.

Psychologist and Southern Baptist minister George Alan Rekers, co-founder of the Family Research Council and formerly of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) who, until he was caught this year flying a gay rent-boy to Europe to “lift his luggage” and give him nude sexual massages, was best known for sharing his wisdom on how to “cure” homosexuality.

The beating death of 17-month-old Roy Jones was no less a hate crime because the victim was a baby. Whether [he] would have grown up to be gay, or transgender, or just a gentle, sweet-natured straight boy, was still many years away. More, it was irrelevant.

The attack, and the apparent impulse behind it–that a violent man was made uncomfortable by even a perceived variation on gender-normative behavior–is exactly what makes transgender and gender-variant Americans among the most vulnerable segment of the population, and children who even appear gender-variant are the most vulnerable of all.

On Sunday night, his little body wracked by agony, blackened with bruises, beaten within an inch of his life, gasping for breath in a world suddenly full of more pain than he could bear, his little light flickered and vanished into the darkness.

Can the concept of “love the sinner; hate the sin” really lead to such a tragedy? Sadly, in the hands of a sinful humanity it sometimes can, and does. Maybe we should stick to loving the sinner, and leave it to God, who really loves all of us sinners, to hate the sin. After all, until we love perfectly like God, our hatred for sin in others will always be mixed up with our own human sinfulness and that’s a messy, and sometimes dangerous, combination.

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