Loving the Sinner, Hating the Sin?

I’ve got a lot on my plate today, what with putting some finishing touches on my camper and getting ready for Wild Goose. But I didn’t want to disappoint my tens of fans, so enjoy this blast from the past and I’ll see you Monday. penguin-lust Back in the 80’s, when I got hold of the newspaper, the first thing I did was turn to the comics page and see what lunacy Opus, Milo and the rest of the weirdos in Bloom County were perpetrating. The strip you see above is part of story line where Bill the Cat became a television evangelist named Fundamentally Oral Bill. As with so many of those folks, Bill had to have a foil and he eventually landed on “penguin lust” (NOTHING BUT URGES FROM HELL!). According to Oral Bill,  if God meant for there to be penguin lust, he would’ve made Penny and Poppy the penguin, not Adam and Eve. Opus, as the only penguin in the community became the target of all the shame the good people of meadow society could pour out (he was even attacked by a gang of wife-swapping inside traders), leading to his exile for several months.

I think this strip catches the true essence of the phrase “Hate the sin,  love the sinner”. When Tom Binkley says “But the Bible commands us to hate the sin and love the sinner. And, Opus, we all do love you. More precisely, we’d love you to move out.” Those three sentences show the unmitigated hypocrisy of the phrase “Hate the sin, love the sinner”.

To explore the idea that “hate the sin, lover the sinner” is hypocrisy, let’s look at a few other “sins” from Leviticus, like tattoos for instance. Getting inked is all the rage these days. Not just kids either, I’ve seen everything from cops to construction workers to  50-year-old grandmothers with tattoos. Now, Leviticus 19:28 forbids the people to “put marks on yourselves”.  Leviticus 11:7-9 prohibits the consumption of pork because it’s unclean. Leviticus 19:19  says it is a sin to wear clothes made of two different types of material. All of these are found in roughly the same place as the supposed injunction against homosexuality. If we do these things, according to Old Testament Jewish law, we are sinners. Yet, no one’s ever said they love me, but hate my sin of eating BBQ. Like I said, hypocrisy.

Then, there’s question of just how much people who use this phrase “love the sinner”, actually love the sinner. When people say they “hate the sin, but love the sinner”, they are attacking the very person they say they love. Whether you believe that homosexuality is a choice or just the way some folks are made, you must understand that a person’s sexuality is a large part of how they see themselves. By saying you “hate the sin” (meaning their sexual orientation), in their eyes, you’re saying you hate them.

Now, it may be that these folks actually do believe they love LGBTQ people and only want to help them. The problem, however, is one of perception. Granted, your intent is important. But, just as important is how your words or actions are perceived by the person you’ve directed them at. I mean, is love really love if it’s perceived as hate and persecution? Are you really loving the sinner when you tell them you’d love for them to move out? Does love drive your actions when you enact legislation that denies equal protection under the law for every couple except for legally married men and women? If you think so, we define “love” in radically different ways.