Why Isn’t “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner” Totally Working?
“Hate the sin, love the sinner,” is pretty catchy. But it doesn’t seem to be “working” in terms of certain goals.
You’d think it would be the perfect harmony of both tolerance and moral steadfastness. But it’s not really “hooking flies with honey” like one would hope. Gosh darnit, why does it appear to be struggling on these fronts?
The answer is boring, but simple:
- It’s because “love” in the above is commonly shorthand for “rebuke” or “repair.”
- And when “love” is shorthand for “rebuke” or “repair,” it naturally prompts ultimatums which, in turn, naturally catalyze rifts and/or insoluability.
(This natural procession is accelerated when the controversial sin is highly “visible” — like whether it’s sinful for women to do their hair, or whether it’s immoral to wear a fuchsia fez, or whether it’s improper to sing with instrumental accompaniment. Denominations have broken up for less!)
Thus, for the reasons above, in the real world, the quoted imperative is bad in terms of the goals of community, unity, and fellowship.
Of course, some folks are aiming for other goals. You can have whatever goals you want. Which goals you actually have — or “should” have — is irrelevant to the above point, and I am not making such a statement here.