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“Hate the sin, love the sinner”


I don’t know how many different times I have heard the phrase uttered, “We are to hate the sin, but love the sinner”. Formulated in a variety of ways, the principle is that God calls us to love everyone but we do not necessarily love what the person does.

Lately, of course, the notion has been most immediately applied to how we ought to approach homosexuals who are in lifelong publicly accountable monogamous relationships. I freely grant that the principle, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” can and is applied in all kinds of ways. However, the reality is that the authors of this blog have dealt with the principle in the life of the Lutheran church as she (the church) determines what to do (or not!) with homosexuals in the aforementioned relationships.

I find “Hate the sin, love the sinner” to be an accurate, if albeit overused, phrase. I do believe God calls us to love everyone, but that we should hate sin. I always love my children, but I do not always love their behavior. In the same way, I need to find ways to love persons who are homosexual even while not loving their particular sexual behavior.

At this point, I imagine that most of this blog’s regular readers are nodding their heads. And now I will make you quake with rage, fear, and a whole host of other emotions.

What about Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn St. assistant coach who is accused of molesting at least eight boys? You could fill in anyone accused of child molestation, but since Sandusky’s case in the public eye, it makes for the easiest discussion point. There are few voices out there saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” in Sandusky’s case.

Please understand – I am NOT trying to connect homosexuality with sexually abusing children. I AM trying to do a bit of self-examination (and hopefully prompt you, dear reader, to do the same) about how I use the phrase, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” and whether or not I am applying it equally. It is much easier for me to tar and feather Sandusky. I have the same visceral reaction to child abuse that most people do, especially since I am a father of two children. “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is so much easier in some instances.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with all of this. It’s a struggle for me on multiple levels. I am a father. I am a Lutheran pastor who has said and heard the phrase, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” often. I am a pastor who, in a former call, had a convicted sex offender (it was an offense against children) who had served his time as a member of the congregation. I was a Court Appointed Special Advocate for the Darke County Juvenile Courts. Lots of conflicting roles and thoughts…

As the Penn St. continues to unfold, consider what it means to “Hate the sin, love the sinner”.


For a more coherent and well-written approach, read this First Things article.


If you want to know how you can help the children in your own community, check out the National CASA home page.


One Comment leave one →
  1. 17November2011 19:00

    I think this applies to any sin which we tend to set ourselves above. We should realize God loves that person and we should too.

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