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Aaron Anson

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The Irony of 'Love the Sinner But Hate the Sin'

Posted: 01/03/12 04:22 PM ET

H.G. Wells once said, "Moral indignation is just jealousy with a halo around it." That seems reminiscent of what those seeking the Republican nomination have engaged in, "moral indignation." Recently, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was challenged point-blank by a bisexual teen: "I just want to know why you're so opposed to gays serving openly in the military, and why you want to deny them their freedom when they're fighting for your rights," the teenager said. Perry resorted immediately to the age-old dogmatic response that some Christians and even some politicians repeatedly use: "I love the sinner but hate the sin," Perry responded. This is little consolation to a teenager or anyone wanting to be accepted as a whole person -- not a fractional portion, like slaves of America's heyday.

Like many others, I am disappointed with the disparaging rhetoric coming from socially conservative Republicans vying for the nomination and take issue with the contemptuous portrayal of a part of the human race as inferior. Yes, the sacrilegious rhetoric invigorates faltering political campaigns by drawing the attention of media, but the destruction of relationships and families that love unconditionally is a terrible price to pay for swollen egos. The inflammatory rhetoric detracts from more important issues by using God and religion as scapegoats and avoids talking about things that matter in everyday life.

Perhaps more than any other topic, the word "sin" conjures up hate and disgust for human beings who live outside others' passed-down view of the world. In Christianity "sin" means separation from God, something unfortunately granted to everyone at birth. Loving the sin and sinner is essentially loving yourself the way your were born. There is no separation between sin and sinner in the Bible. However, the self-righteous among us perpetuate this condescending notion every day. It is a variation on something Mahatma Gandhi wrote many years ago and has regrettably been used to ostracize individuals, defend violence, and perpetuate hate -- something Gandhi never would have wished upon anyone. The words have absolutely nothing to do with God or Jesus and is never mentioned in the Bible.

The Commandments and the Our Father Prayer in the Bible confirm the ubiquitousness of sin and suggest that daily, everyone commits adultery or lust in their heart, and that everyone has idols before God, etc. Perry and others repeat these haughty assertions as though they have the blessing of God. Their judgmental superiority leaves potentially nothing for them to overcome. Their condemnation of sin by others does not assert their godliness but hypocrisy instead. As Christians, you'll never be able to be free of sin on your own. What Christ implored us to do is love our neighbor as ourselves and not judge them. So the saying "love the sinner but hate the sin" has no place in the Christian belief and is perpetuated by uninformed, unenlightened sinners with egotistical aspirations of superiority.

The irony is that hyped religious rhetoric perpetuates sinners judging sinners, and validates their belief despite a doctrine that condemns the judging of others. Perhaps the judgmental and self-righteous among us should place more emphasis on quotations actually attributed to Christ: "Judge not," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "Let he without sin cast the first stone." Perhaps they should stop perpetuating hate by quoting fabricated doctrine and condemning others until they prove faultless themselves.

Should we love both the sinner and the sin? For Christians to hate either one or both is to hate oneself. Our greatest enemy is the one we look at in the mirror each day, not the phantom one invented out of fear, ignorance, hate, and rhetorical nonsense. Those wishing to aspire to something larger than themselves should wholly embrace a message of love, peace, and goodwill toward all and not the rhetoric spewing from podiums and pulpits that advocate hating the sin but loving the sinner. Unless you are faultless and without any sin, prudent advice would be to judge not others and love your enemies as yourself.

 
 
 

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