Tag Archives: love

Why “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” Doesn’t Work

This post inspired by Beth Woolsely’s article, which I’m sure is much better than mine.

This painting by Heinrich Hofmann is in the public domain..

What makes you who you are?

Is it merely the physical body, the material of which you are made?

Is it your genetic code that makes you “you?”

Is it the information you contain, your thoughts and feelings, which determine your identity?

Are you composed of what you have done?

Are you composed of what you will do?

“Love the sinner, hate the sin,” rests on the premise that we are essentially separable from our actions. That hating your actions has nothing to do with hating you; that loving you in no way implies a love for your actions.

There are some circumstances under which this makes sense. A person who has been forced by circumstance to do something they would rather not be doing, for example, or a person who has developed a habit they would rather not have through addiction or poor teaching.

But in these cases, the person’s action is clearly not in line with their will – the assumption that the person is  better than their action rests on a clear distinction that the person doesn’t want to perform that action.

Can it be argued that we are defined by the actions that we want to take?

Where does this leave an unrepentant “sinner?”

Where does this leave the “sinner” who believes that at least some of what you call “sins” are not, in fact, grievous crimes?

Where does this leave the person in the sexual relationship outside of marriage, or the one whose spiritual practices you consider to themselves be “sins?”

Where is such a person left if you hate their relationship, or their spiritual practice?

If you hate these things, can you truly love them?

Or is the effect of this “love the sinner, hate the sin” truly to allow the hater-of-sins to behave hatefully towards the person, transgressing their personal boundaries, treating them with anger and disgust, and attempting against their will to force a change in their behavior, while still allowing the hater-of-sins to pretend they are not themselves being a horrible person?

Food for thought.

This painting of Joan of Arc by Dante Gabriel Rossetti is in the public domain. Joan said it was God who led her to successfully drive back the invading armies threatening France; she was killed by the Church, depending on who you ask, for blasphemy, witchcraft, or crossdressing, and later venerated as a saint.
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Love is What is Needed

This is an era of apocalyptic prophecies. We are told from many sides that the end is nigh; that things are bad, that they will get worse, that we must be poised to enter the final battle.

The problem is this: that we cannot seem to agree on what it is that we are fighting.

In America, we hear two prevailing narratives:

That our demise comes at the hands of godlessness and socialism, at the hands of sexual immorality and atheists without conscience who refuse to recognize the authority of God, at the hands of the lazy poor and parasitic immigrants who drain our coffers.

Or, we hear that our demise comes at the hands of religion and capitalism, of those who in self-righteousness would blame and fear the Other, of those who would blindly cling to what they are told are God’s edicts, of those who see profit as a moral virtue and poverty as a moral vice.

Ingenious, isn’t it, how neatly those two stances turn us against each other?

Both sides will argue that they have morality. Both sides will argue that they have love. Both sides will argue that it is the other’s LACK of love that creates all of our problems.

If both sides were acting out of love, neither one would need to argue it.

Love was the foremost message of Christ; for the sake of Love he broke Old Testament laws, choosing to spend embrace the “sinners” who were of sincere heart rather than the religious authorities who ultimately had him put to death for blasphemy.

Love was the foremost message of Karl Marx; just as Christ advocated to meet the needs of the many through individual Love, Marx advocated to meet the needs of the many through an economic system.

Both spoke against hostility, greed, and exploitation. Both warned of the grave moral perils posed by wealth; Christ said “it is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Could this have anything to do with the modern phenomena we see, where the comparatively wealthy so frequently hoard personal wealth while scapegoating the poor?

The followers of Christ and Marx, in other words, should be on pretty much the same page.

So why aren’t they?

It is for each individual to answer the question of why love has not prevailed in their life.

Perhaps it is enough for us to remember that, no matter who your role model is or what your income level is, you have the same highest calling.

Why We’re Here

Violence is a cycle. Always. A person who is harmed seeks to do harm in return; and after they have done it, somebody will
seek to hurt them back.

The cycle continues.

It is in every “I am justified in demonizing them, they are evil.” It is in every “You can’t blame me, they started it.” It is in every “It was necessary to eliminate the threat.”

Satellite: Suomi-NPP Sensor: VIIRS Date: 9 April 2015 Description:  Data from six orbits of the Suomi-NPP spacecraft have been assembled  into this perspective composite of southern Africa and the surrounding oceans.  Tropical Cyclone Joalane is seen over the Indian Ocean. Data used:   The image was constructed from six orbits of surface reflectance (rhos)   data using the 671, 551, and 443 nm bands for red, green, and blue   respectively. Projection:  near-sided perspective projection from 8300 kilometers above 50 South by 40 East Projection details:  mapproject -Rd -JG40/-50/2.3/0/0/0/60/60/150 Image created by: Norman Kuring

It is in every argument that ends in hostility; it is in every clash of politics and values. It is in everything that makes our lives hell.

The hardest thing in the world is to break that cycle. We are animals, designed for an environment where survival depended on striking at the enemy as hard as he strikes at you.

Which is why we still have violence, even though everyone agrees that it’s a bad thing.

Recognizing this common thread in everything that holds us back from our potential; recognizing its manifestation within ourselves, within our everyday lives; recognizing the violence we do in response to what has been done to us; recognizing the effects of that violence which we do on ourselves.

That is what this place is about.

Violence is not determined by blood and guts and gore; the word itself stems from “violation.” It is about an assault on something; a strike against its being, its essence, its right to exist.

It is in the outrage you feel at yourself for being who you are. About the outrage you feel at others for being who they are. It is in the outrage you have at those who propagate beliefs or values different from your own. It is about the rage that others have at you, that has infected you with self-hatred.

Stopping the cycle is the hardest thing in the world. It is also the most important.

We all say we want a better world.

Let’s go make one.