The Christian world is over saturated with clichés! Overly simplistic statements that are often injected into deeply complex situations. They can be brutal. One such statement, and there are many, is “love the sinner, hate the sin!”
Case and point. The conversation with the LGBTQ community, wherein this ‘cliche’ could carry innocent, if not ignorant, intentions, but horribly ventures into the realm of dehumanization and reveals a posture of judgementalism.
At the risk of quoting the whole book, which is a temptation, I think Andrew Marin gets it right here in his important book “Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community.”
Among gays and lesbians, “love the sinner, hate the sin” is the most disdained phrase in the Christian vocabulary. If behavior equals identity, then hating gay sexual behavior is the same thing as hating the gay person. The most common rebuttal they use to counter that slogan is Jesus’ words regarding judgment in Matthew 7, where he speaks about the plank in our own eye and the speck in our brother’s. “How can Christians pick this one sin and make it greater than all the rest? The Bible also says not to [for example, “eat crab”]. Straight people and yet are still accepted.” As the Barna Group discovered in research commissioned by the Fermi Project, this logic has earned Christians a reputation for being extremely hypocritical and unrightfully judgmental.
The easiest way we can start to change these negative perceptions is to remove “love the sinner, hate the sin” from our vocabulary. Clever catch phrases that try to make Christianity accessible to the masses don’t translate to all different populations. As soon as we drop the notion of loving the sinner and hating the sin, the pressure is then off of us to drag a GLBT person from their current “corrupted state” to our “holy state,” just as the pressure is off of the GLBT person to continually build up their defenses to try to guard against the slogans that hurt them time and again.
Andrew Marin. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (Kindle Locations 457-465). Kindle Edition.
Which clichés, or common multi-use Christian phrases have been used or offered to you in complex situations? Have you ever made the connection that ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ is, or could be judgemental?