Hate the Sin Love the Sinner: How Do I Do That?

 

So if “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner” doesn’t really work does that mean we have to either “Love the Sinner and Love the Sin” or “Hate the Sin and Hate the Sinner”?

Maybe it depends on what we mean by “hate”.

We are required to resist evil. It is legitimate to feel revulsion and hatred at the destruction and waste that evil brings.

Let me give you an extreme example: When you saw pictures of children in Auschwitz did you not feel revulsion for what was done? When you saw the hard faces of the Nazis who carried out the atrocities did you not feel hatred toward them? Was that emotion not justified? If you saw the corpse of a ten year old girl who had been kidnapped, tortured, raped, murdered and thrown into a ditch did you not weep tears of rage and revulsion? When you saw the sick and unrepentant face of the killer did you not feel a surge of hatred and disgust? Were those feelings not justified? I think so.

Therefore I think it is possible to extend these feelings and admit that we feel revulsion, disgust and hatred toward both the sin and the sinner.

However, we are called to go one step further. We are called not so much to hate the sin and love the sinner, in a sentimental and superficial way, but to hate the sin with a perfect hatred and love the sinner with a perfect compassion. This kind of “love the sinner” is not an easy and careless case of being nice to him, but a deep Christian compassion which sees the sinner as a poor, wounded child of God who has got caught up in the snares of Satan and may be headed to hell. This is the compassion of Christ and his saints, and is a true love for the eternal soul of the sinner.

Finally, this kind of compassionate love is how we should see all people–not just the ones guilty of sexual sins–each one of us are wounded children of God who are lost in the desert and are desperate to find the way home.

We should have this compassion on all of God’s children and pray for their happiness, peace and forgiveness, and the first person we should look on with these eyes of perfect hatred and perfect love is the person we see in the mirror.

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