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July 13, 2013
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(7/13/2013)

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After an interesting conversation I had last night, and after doing some bit of research and making observations myself, here I am sharing my thoughts about this statement of growing controversy:

"Love the sinner and not the sin."

First off, I choose to word it that way specifically despite the statement being commonly written as "love the sinner, hate the sin". For some reason plenty of people find themselves befuddled over the word "hate" and tend to view it as a strong word despite that it's technically not bad in that particular context (God/Jesus hates sin and made it clear that He hates sin because sin is evil). So that's why you see here the "nicer" way of wording that statement, though the message should generally be the same.

And yet, over the course of time this statement has drawn out more confusion that it ought to. Why?

More and more people are becoming critical over the statement as they identify themselves with what they do. They may see the idea as being contradictory and impossible to do because it's like saying,
"So you love the baker even though you don't like that he bakes?"
"So you love the birdwatcher even though you don't like that he watches birds?"
"So you love the Trekkie even though you don't like that he watches Star Trek like it was the greatest thing in the world?"
"So you love the democrat even though you don't like his democratic views?"
Except replace those occupational nouns with something controversial on the moral horizon and you see where this is heading.

But this is not about any specific social controversy. This is about disagreements in general.


So why is this statement, "love the sinner, not the sin", seen as a problem nowadays?

The problem is that when it comes to personal viewpoints on certain subjects, one man's wrong is another man's right; what many people may believe is wrong to do is seen as perfectly okay by those who disagree. Those who don't agree that what they do is a sin may find this statement to be meaningless to them. And, sin or not, many of those who especially identify themselves with what they do or practice feel incredibly offended by the idea that anybody can disagree with what they do at all.

One reason for this is that many of those people feel strongly that what they do is not wrong and that because it's not wrong to them that it should never be seen as wrong to anybody else. Simply put, they do not wish to "agree to disagree". They feel so strongly that nobody should ever be allowed to disagree with them at all, because they feel so "confident" that their viewpoint is the right one. And anybody who disagrees with them must be labeled as a "-phobe/hater/etc", because to them it is apparently not possible to disagree without being someone who "hates". So they paint everyone else outside their viewpoint with the same paintbrush. Sadly the reverse also happens; many people who feel strongly against doing said act also treat those who disagree as if they should have their views shoved in their faces in order to change their minds. But even if one side is correct, does it make it right to enforce those views with such an iron fist that you practically shove those people against the wall? Is that going to make anyone see eye to eye? So where then is this "freewill" or "freedom of choice"? When one side argues that the other side denies them the freedom to choose, they fail to see their own hypocrisy when they say that it's wrong to disagree with their views. Both sides of the fence have been equally guilty of doing this to each other.


Another reason is that there are those who feel that it's because they identify themselves with what they do that by not agreeing with what they do means to not agree with who they are as a person. To those people, "loving the sinner and not the sin" sounds impossible and contradictory. To those people, it's like saying that you don't like who they are and/or you don't accept them. Because of this, they view the statement as putting a condition on love.

But there's also a hole in that logic: If one person doesn't agree with one aspect, does that mean that they disagree with everything about you? Does that really make them incapable of loving/accepting you as a person? How then do you define the self? Is the self composed of just that one thing that you do? Does disagreeing with a person's choice/beliefs/"lifestyle"/whatever make anyone incapable of showing that person love? Should having those differences make them love that person any less?

Now is that kind of thinking realistic?

Look down deep within yourself and be honest; do you agree with every single thing about every person you know? Every choice they make? Everything they believe in? Everything about the way they live their life? Reality is, you're not going to agree with every single thing that a person does. Even if that person were your best friend or your spouse, chances are that you will be able to name at least one thing that you don't agree with about that person. Why expect people to agree with every single thing that you do or believe in?

Whatever happened to "Treat others the way you want to be treated"? People choose to be more difficult than they ought to be. Many people fail to see the poison that influences that kind of thinking: pride. People allow themselves to get so worked up over these things, more than they need to. Both sides of the argument are too busy being so incredibly defensive that they forget how to respect each other. Then they start to see each other as bitter enemies instead of trying to understand each other. There are extremists on both sides of the fence whether they believe it or not.


Another problem with the statement, according to someone I was talking to last night, is that many Christians--even well-intentioned ones who don't express contempt or ill-will against those who disagree--have often either:
[1] used the statement as an excuse to point out another person's sin,
[2] used the statement hypocritically, or
[3] used the statement so frequently in their arguments that it's practically lost its credibility.

Somewhere down the road, the statement has lost its merit. For all the above reasons mentioned in this long piece of work, the statement has become more and more of a target for criticism and, out of sheer irony, somehow supposedly induces the opposite effect.

But what all this tells me is this: many people...
[1] ...have a tendency to overthink it,
[2] ...are quick to attack anything that doesn't sit well with them,
[3] ...allow their pride to get in the way so that disagreements will overwhelm them.

Leave it to humanity to twist a message of love and deteriorate its meaning overtime. To me, it seriously makes no sense to twist such a statement into doing/meaning the opposite. Sadly, even the word "love" itself has been so overused, abused, and muddled in the eyes and ears of many. So many have come up with their own misconceptions of what define love or acceptance that it sounds so vague to many.

As I once said to someone, "Misunderstandings is the Legion of this world because we see it all too numerous."

But just because there are people who don't understand what the statement means or how it should be applied, does that make the statement any less true?

---

Let's first start by asking, "Is it possible to love the sinner and not the sin?"

Well, Jesus loves everyone but He hates sin. So much befuddlement comes from this very idea. How is it possible to love somebody and not like what they do?

Let's say you had a brother. Whether it be a part of his personality or not, this brother of yours has a tendency to drive you up the wall. Sometimes he picks on you. Sometimes he can be really selfish. Sometimes he breaks into your room and "borrows" something from you without your permission. Sometimes he says something really hurtful to you. Sometimes you both get into fights, serious or petty. But he's your brother, right? You don't like it when he does those things, but you know you still love him and you forgive him. Then somewhere down the road you learn that one day your brother committed a crime and is being arrested for something he is clearly guilty of. You don't know if he even regrets his choice. You probably feel confused, angry, and downright disappointed. But you know deep inside that the reason you're hurt by this awful truth is because you care about your brother, and its affected you the way it did because you love him. You love your brother, but you hate that awful thing he did.

Better yet, put yourself in the position of a parent and imagine that it was your son who committed that crime and he is clearly guilty of it. Stings even worse, doesn't it? If you love your child, you know it would devastate you even more. Your son didn't commit the crime against you directly, but it still affected you in some way. And it would hurt you even more if you learned that your child was sentenced to a very serious punishment for his actions.

The way God feels about humanity, when people deliberately sin and turn away from Him, is like a loving parent who learns that his child has committed a crime; he absolutely cares and loves his child even though he doesn't like the bad things his child does. And with arms wide open He's willing to forgive and welcome His child if His child allows Him to.

To love the sinner and not the sin? That's exactly why God sent Jesus to die on the cross. God loves all of us, but sin separates us from God because God is good and sin is evil. God cannot allow sin in His kingdom because He is good. The punishment for sin is death (eternal separation in hell). But what God also knows is that humanity is imperfect and prone to committing sinful acts. Everyone is a sinner. God loves everyone. God loves sinners but he hates sin. So God sacrificed Himself in the form of Jesus, because He loved us so much. By doing so, He gave everyone an equal opportunity to be made right with Him by giving everyone the choice to believe in and accept His Son as Lord and Savior. By wholeheartedly accepting Jesus, you are forgiven and saved.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16

What many people seem to fail to understand is that everyone sins, including me and you and every person you love. Everyone has done something wrong before. Everyone is still capable of doing something wrong today and tomorrow. No sin is greater than the next. And most of all, none of us is perfectly sinless. The quickest way to find a sinner is to look in a mirror. Anyone here who claims to be without sin is a liar and commits a sin. And if every person you know and love is a sinner, then how can anyone say that such a statement is a contradiction? To "love the sinner and not the sin" is absolutely not impossible at all. It is not a contradiction. In fact, people mingle all the time with other people who sin.

Perhaps the thing that turns off a lot of non-believers and those with different views is that they tend to see a lot of supposed Christians looking at them through sin-colored glasses rather than (metaphorically) inviting them like Jesus would do when He ate with "tax collectors and sinners". So any instance of using the statement, "love the sinner, not the sin", seems to fall short of getting the intended message across.

And perhaps the thing that turns off a lot of Christians is that a lot of non-believers and those with different views tend to be just as quick at pointing the finger and calling them out. Both sides of the fence are guilty of this. What people tend to fail to realize is that we have a lot more in common than we think we do.

---

Should the mere statement, "love the sinner, not the sin", still make people roll their eyes? Is it really that statement that's causing people to be driven away or is it the attitudes of people who harden their hearts and refuse to swallow their pride? Yes, we can change the way we communicate even if we cannot change the way people react.  Sure, if it doesn't help to say something, don't say it at all. But where do we draw the line? When does it come to the point where all we ever do is censor ourselves from speaking truthfully at all? Another thing we also have to accept is that the truth is bound to offend somebody out there. Sometimes it can't always be helped.

A lot of people really need to stop getting themselves so worked up when it comes to every little disagreement. It's a real shame that such a statement should ever fall prey to becoming a controversial mess from both its abuse and its reception, even when the message itself is still indirectly present in the bible.


"Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." -Romans 12:9-10 (NLT)
Yes, I already know that this statement is not a direct quotation from the bible. However, the message behind said statement is still not any less true. It's just a pity how misused and misunderstood such a statement is. So I wanted to share my thoughts about it.

jazzy-c-oaks.deviantart.com/ar…

Glory goes to God, who inspires me to write.
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:iconsaykha:
saykha Aug 27, 2013  Student Writer
This was a very thought-provoking read <3 It reminded me of a couple of things I had forgotten when it comes to not judging others.  Thank you for sharing :hug:
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:iconjazzy-c-oaks:
Jazzy-C-Oaks Aug 27, 2013   General Artist
I'm glad you got something out of it! God bless! :hug:
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:iconshadoweddancer:
Shadoweddancer Aug 21, 2013   Digital Artist
God is very much a loving father and loves his children even when they do wrong.  I have a wayward daughter who has stepped away from all that she was taught.  She does drugs and I know she shoplifts.  That doesn't change that she is still my daughter and a love her despite what she has done.  Still, I won't allow her to live in my house at this time.  However, behavior can be changed.  In Christ, the leopard can change it's spots.  

The biggest problem these days is very few people ascribe to how God requires us to live our lives.  If you think taking drugs isn't wrong, why should you stop.  And people don't want to believe in an all powerful creator because then they would have to be subject to him.  It's a pity because in HIM, there is peace, and love and a way of life that is unequaled.  And He gives us the power to change, and the grace in his son's blood when we fall short.  It doesn't make our lives perfect or trouble free, but I wouldn't exchange it for anything.     
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:iconjazzy-c-oaks:
Jazzy-C-Oaks Aug 22, 2013   General Artist
Thank you for sharing.
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:iconhydratamer:
HydraTamer Aug 21, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Very nice breakdown of the statement! And you are very true. Well done.
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:iconjazzy-c-oaks:
Jazzy-C-Oaks Aug 21, 2013   General Artist
Thank you! :)
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:iconparsat:
Parsat Jul 29, 2013  Student Writer
There's a quote by C.S. Lewis about this that I really like:


Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.

For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself.  However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why l hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere he can be cured and made human again.
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:iconjazzy-c-oaks:
Jazzy-C-Oaks Jul 29, 2013   General Artist
Thanks for sharing!
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:iconjazzy-c-oaks:
Jazzy-C-Oaks Jul 24, 2013   General Artist
Thank you! :)
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