Love Does Not Look Like Judgement

Love Does Not Look Like Judgement March 11, 2017

livingliminalby Living Liminal cross posted from her blog Living Liminal

I’ve been thinking since I wrote my last post about our use of the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” In that post I was suggesting that going out of your way to point out and denounce whatever you view as sin in the lives of others, under the guise of “love”, is not in fact a very loving thing to so.

I’ve struggled with the notion that people who claim to worship a God whose very essence is love, can be some of the most hurtful, hateful, unloving people around. And that in so many cases, christians are not known for their love, but for their bigotry and fear and condemnation of others.

And I’ve wrestled with the reality that I’ve encountered many christians who seem to use the word love to describe behaviour which just isn’t loving.

Like the board member at my ex-church who told me I’d been loved, and so I should just shut up and get over it.

I’d been bullied and then dismissed. I’d been told to submit or resign. I’d been removed from leadership. I’d been continually silenced. I’d suffered accusations based on lies. And I’d been treated like a pariah.

Yet here was this guy writing to me, “You. Have. Been. Loved.” How could anyone possibly call what I’d been subjected to “love”?

It sure didn’t feel like love to me.

But that’s just a single example. It so doesn’t stop there. Every day, both online and face to face, people are being judged, rejected, cold-shouldered, put down, shunned, bullied, and silenced. And all the while the perpetrators are claiming to love! In the name of their god no less!

And that’s where it gets interesting – or at least that’s where the light-bulb illuminated for me. Because it occurred to me that despite paying lip-service to the notion that God IS love, many christians obviously have a view of God that is anything but loving.

It seems that the god many worship is a god of anger and vengeance. One who only tolerates us because his own son stood between us and the bloodlust of his father. A god who demands that we work hard, and jump through hoops, and suffer just to avoid the inevitable judgement that is our due.

And if, deep down where people may not even admit it to themselves, God is seen in these terms, it’s no wonder they would think that judging and pointing fingers and demanding people live in line with their own morality is what love looks like. That is, after all, what their god looks like.

moreRead more by Living Liminal

Loving the Sinner

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Living Liminal lives in Australia with her husband and three sons, and she is learning to thrive in the liminal space her life has become. She writes at Living Liminal. 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Nea

    Respect doesn’t look like judgement either, and how much evangelical writing boils down to “I was raised to respect women, but that pant-wearing non-modest feminist skank doesn’t count because I have judged her as not respecting herself”?

  • RetroPam

    The most bizarre redefinition of “love” that I’ve heard from them is: “love is showing God’s Law toward them.” The experience shared above sure looks like an example.

    Scripture disagrees: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Cor. 13:4-13

  • Christine Sarah Pike

    As a former evangelical, now humanist, I’m sorry to say but this sounds like a tacit admission that a belief in God is simply a projection of all the stuff we can’t face about ourselves.

  • RetroPam

    I don’t want to get too political, because this subject matter doesn’t invite it, but I’ve said the same of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump – each are nice projection screens for whatever dreams their fans want to superimpose upon them.

    Projecting our ids on a blank external symbol; all a familiar theme.

  • Christine Sarah Pike

    I think they would say that “rejoicing in the truth” backs them up on that one. It’s certainly what my parents believed. I was told – lovingly – that I was going to hell for being in love with someone they did not consider appropriate. They truly believed this was the most loving thing they could do.