That Piece About ‘Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin.’

That Piece About ‘Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin.’

Written by John Pavlovitz and originally published on johnpavlovitz.com

*

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Rarely in history has there been a greater mischaracterization of the heart of Jesus or a more egregious bastardization of the Bible than these six words.

The damage that LTSHTS has done in the lives of billions of people and to the public perception of Christians can never be fully calculated, but one thing is certainly true: it’s an embarrassment and a sin and a total abomination—and here are three reasons why:

1) Jesus never said it.

Lots of Christians would have us believe that Jesus would be totally onboard with LTSHTS, but the simple truth is that he never prescribed anything like it in Scripture. Jesus was crystal clear in his teachings about our calling to love: God, and our neighbor as ourselves, one another as he loved us, our enemies, sacrificially, extravagantly, relentlessly—but never with caveats or qualifications. He never let anything about a person’s life keep them from intimate fellowship with him (and he was the only one qualified to do so).

LTSHTS supporters will ask rhetorically, “Well doesn’t Jesus preach against sin and therefore hates it? Isn’t hating sin just being obedient to him?” Jesus always spoke to people about their own lives; about the sins they were personally called to address in response to him. Whatever repentance Jesus was inviting people to, it was on their behalf, it was never on behalf of anyone else. His words were never given as license to police someone else’s moral condition, but to use a mirror to assess one’s own. Any behavior modification, any inner conviction, any heart change would be between Jesus and those hearing his words. Only he decides the work he does. We don’t get to play middleman between Christ and another human being. We are assigned the tasks of feeding, healing, and caring for those we cross paths with, in his name.

Unfortunately for those so clinging to LTSHTS, Jesus commands us to love people—period.

2) It’s cowardly and morally inconsistent.

Let’s be honest here. Whenever any Christian uses the phrase LTSHTS, it’s never in the context of anything other than gender identity and sexuality, which itself is an indictment of the term. It isn’t as though these faithful folks spend their entire lives dispensing the kind of behavior-based malevolence that LTSHTS always comes packaged with. It’s not as though they continually scour the Scriptures, applying their theological understandings of sin to those in their midst who might lie or steal or commit adultery or love money or drink to excess. If they truly loved those “sinners” and hated those “sins” enough to treat people as horribly as they treat the LGBTIQ community for the sins they charge them with, they’d have nobody left who could ever stand to be in their presence. LTSHTS is simply an exercise in selective, subjective sin-shaming and targeted discrimination disguised as righteousness.

If you’re a Christian and you’re going to choose to be hateful or biased toward people based on their gender identity and sexuality, you may as well just come out and say it. Own your discomfort or displeasure. Hiding behind LTSHTS is just using Jesus as justification for the kind of behavior he would be quite appalled by. It isn’t Christlikeness, it’s cowardice.

3) It’s a relationship-killer.

At the core of LTSHTS is the argument that gender identity and sexual orientation are somehow choices (an idea that runs counter to everyone’s experience of both, of course, but that’s neither here nor there). The speaker of LTSHTS believes that the person in question is making a decision to do something that the speaker believes is inherently sinful, yet (the speaker claims) they are able to somehow separate a sexual act (which they despise), with the person engaging in said act (whom they supposedly love). I’d really like a practical unpacking of how that all works with actual people, but I doubt it will be forthcoming.

Never mind that gender identity and sexual orientation are for all of us, both far greater than simply any physical acts we perform, and therefore to characterize LGBTIQ people as inherently sinful for only those acts themselves, is completely flawed from both a Biblical and common sense perspective.

But someone’s sin isn’t really the issue here and we don’t even have to agree on that. Regardless of one’s theological perspective, we can’t ignore that at the heart of Jesus’ life and ministry is the way he drew people close to him, listened to them, touched them, broke bread with them, wept with them, and treated them with dignity, as equals.

When a follower of Christ claims that they LTSHTS, they are saying two things loudly and unquestionably to a LGBTIQ person:

One, that he or she knows that person’s body and heart from a distance, better than the person in question knows from the inside.

And two, that what those people are telling them is involuntary about themselves, they are characterizing as despicable. They are declaring them as inherently defective, vile, evil. I’m not sure those who wield LTSHTS so causally have any real idea how damaging and hurtful that is; what it really speaks to the hearer’s heart. If they did, I’m certain they would see the complete absence of Jesus in it.

To say to a LGBTIQ person, “I love you but I hate your sexuality”, is the same as saying to someone, “I love you, but the color of your eyes disgusts me”, or “I love you, but I hate the way you laugh”, or “I love you, but God believes that the freckles on your shoulders and cheeks are an abomination.”

LTSHTS is not (as it alleges) a balanced phrase, but a hateful phrase; one that never makes a relationship between two parties better or closer or richer, it only severs or prevents the very kind of intimate fellowship Jesus forged, even with those he disagreed with. To utter it is to stand in complete opposition to the life he lived and to the ministry he practiced.

Christian, there are many more reasons why “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin” needs to be killed and buried forever, but those are a great start.

The bottom line is that it is a phrase that injures, demeans, judges, and ostracizes people who are made in the image of God, and those are things that should never be on the agenda of someone claiming to be following in the footsteps of Jesus.

We’re talking here about important conversations, regarding extremely complex issues, with incredibly diverse human beings. These all deserve much more than a cheap, insulting catch-phrase. They deserve far greater effort than a lazy religious platitude which doesn’t work when fleshed out in real relationships and serves no redemptive purpose.

LTSHTS is about as sinful as we can get, friends.

To never utter that phrase again may be the very repenting Christians ought to do—but that’s between you and Jesus.

As for me?

I love you, Christian, but I really hate the way you, “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

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  1. Jamie
    August 30, 06:56 Reply

    …really don’t have time for ”perfect” bible stompers… They claim they know the world will end soon, and that there are signs to look out to, yet they try to supress the signs instead of address them…lol. If they were ready for heaven, they wouldn’t be so scared of their signs, would they?

  2. Mwaniki
    August 30, 07:04 Reply

    It is impossible to claim that I love you while identifying you with something I hate. Why would I have to call you a “sinner”, knowing that I hate sin, if I really love you? Unless I do not really love you in the first place; else I’d look for a more endearing name for you!
    We have no business hating anything at all. It is always a horrific expense of heart energy. Love is enough.

  3. Chuck
    August 30, 12:17 Reply

    Christianity is contradictory. Jesus is contradictory. The Bible is contradictory. An argument about Jesus’s original intentions goes nowhere because no part of the Gospels is more/less valid than the others – except maybe John, which has a different source than the others.

    In short, why are we relying on random books for legitimacy?

    • Tiercel de Claron
      August 30, 12:54 Reply

      What’s the source of the other gospels,pray tell?.
      And while you’re at it,kindly state those things you think are contradictory about Jesus.

      • Chuck
        August 30, 14:47 Reply

        Read Mark Goodacre’s The Synoptic Problem (2001). It’s a good recap regarding the sources of the Gospels.

        Jesus only calls himself God in John. The Synoptics don’t mention it at all, and present him as just a preacher. That’s a major contradiction. For more read Bart Ehrman’s Jesus interrupted

        • Tiercel de Claron
          August 30, 15:32 Reply

          Oh,I’m quite familiar with Goodacre’s works.The Synoptic Problem is the title of one of his books,also a theory of biblical studies that’s fascinated scholars well nigh unto two hundred years,not a “problem” as you cunningly tried to make it out.It’s a study of how the first three gospels,Mark,Matthew n Luke are so alike in content and length,with only John diverging in terms of perspective.

          The word Synoptic,derived from synopsis,means all seeing together.In the modern English sense,”giving an account of the events from the same point of view or under the same general aspect”.That’s from his wiki page,by the way.
          Though the synoptics diverge from John in wording n some content,they have a great deal in common with each other.The first 3 speaks mostly of Jesus,the “son of man”,his earthly genealogy,life and teachings,while John speaks mostly of Jesus,the son of God,his heavenly mission here on earth n mandate in the hereafter.Different angles/perspective,but little to no contradiction.

          In none of the works of Goodacre nor Erhman,who’s forte is textual criticism,do I see any of these your nebulous “Christianity is contradictory,Jesus is contradictory”.

          Now,I’d indulged you a bit so you know you’re not dealing with an airhead nor fanatic,but all that’s by the way.You didn’t answer my questions.
          What’s the source of the Synoptic Gospels you’d offhandedly dismissed on KD?.And what are those things that make Jesus contradictory?.
          Don’t think you’re dodging these.Not being of the Christian faith is no license to make unfounded assertions.

          • Chuck
            August 30, 15:52 Reply

            I gave you the title of the book. There’s no cunning involved. Scholars do not know who wrote the books. They are sure that it wasn’t Mark, Matthew, Luke or John. The Synoptic ones have been revealed to share the same sources, given that they share stories and even the same wording.

            I think the implications of whether Jesus is God or a prophet are very important for Christian doctrines. There are other contradictions about when Jesus was born etc. Have you read Jesus Interrupted? There are many examples listed there. If you haven’t I can provide you with a list.

            I am surprised that you have read Goodacre and still think the 4 Gospels were written in the same tradition.

            I’m unable to post links here but I’m willing to write a longer article by way of introduction/ explanation

            • Tiercel de Claron
              August 30, 22:34 Reply

              Will you stop throwing up shiny objects and answer the questions I asked?.There are just two of them.

              The Synoptic Gospels are similar cos they were written or put out within two decades of each other and were written to a mostly Jewish audience,albeit different groups of said audience.
              Mark,being the first Gospel(I’m sure you weren’t aware of that fact),was written for/to the ordinary people,thereby accounting for its brevity,as it were.He wrote about the core message of Christ,His mission,life and deeds in a language without too much elaboration,that the ordinary people can understand.Tradition ascribed the authorship of Mark to an acolyte of Simon Peter,bearing in mind similarities in style and penmanship with the epistles accredited to Peter.The man,Simon Peter was not a lettered man before he met Jesus,unlike Paul.In the absence of any other material pointing to the specific person in history who authored the gospel of Mark as being different,I’ll stick to the tradition which had been handed down over many centuries,thank you.
              Matthew,on the other hand,wrote to the elite,the educated,the affluent of the society,the aristocracy as it were,about the same Christ.You will notice he started his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus,tracing it from the royal line of David,thereby establishing Jesus as one of their own who’s message they should listen to rather than dismiss it as that of a rabble rouser from the lower classes.
              Luke wrote to the gentry,what we today call the middle class.Which is why there are more details about Jesus,just like you have in Matthew,but also centering on his message and how his disciples were able to propagate it after him.The Acts of the Apostles is actually an extension of the Gospel of Luke.
              In the three gospels,there is a common thread.Jesus,come in the flesh as man,to fulfill that which had been prophesied by the prophets of old,especially Isaiah.To bring about reconciliation between man and God,bridge that gap that has been since man veered from God’s original plans.Let me not go on about that here,ere I turn this thread to bible study.
              As to the issue of same wordings cutting across the three,let me give you an example or two to go thru.You will have to go get a Bible to study them tho,not sure how comfortable you will be doing that being the Muslim I strongly suspect you to be.Study Mt 8:2–3,Mk 1:40–42,Lk 5:12–13.Same event reported,seemingly same wordings,but look closely,each gospel includes words absent in the other two and omits something included by the other two.But no contradiction.
              As for your puerile contention about Jesus being a man or a prophet,all four Gospels proclaim him the Son of God,come down in the flesh to lead man back to God.Tho John wrote more about him from the God viewpoint,instances abound of him being referred to or calling himself the Son of God.
              Write that article,send it in for publication and let’s really thrash out these your quibbles about Jesus and Christianity without having to hide them under the cloak of pseudo-intellectualism,as you tend to do.
              Now,answer my questions.

              • Tiercel de Claron
                August 30, 22:44 Reply

                Btw,the Gospel of John was written 50-70years after Christ,to a much wider audience,Jew and gentile as the Jews had been dispersed by Titus then,accounting much for John’s Messianic/God point of view of presenting Jesus.”In the beginning,there was the Word,and the Word was with God and the Word was God”.
                Compare with Mark’s “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,the Son of God”.
                Same thread,same core message,different view of presentation,but no contradiction.

                • Chuck
                  August 31, 00:07 Reply

                  The source if the Gospels is unknown. The Synoptic ones have a common thread. What you’ve written about the common man, the elites and the gentry is balderdash. No such distinctions existed around 100 AD. You do know the Jews were exiled and the Temple destroyed in 70 AD, right? So where were the people being written for? It’s most likely that the Synoptic Gospels copied the same sources to the events ,and most definitelywere not written by not an eye witness as no one would start his own Gospel as ” the Gospel according to Matthew”. Who refers to himself in the third person at the start of his own work?

                  I see you’re more willing to privilege what you learned in CRS over the work of scholars like Ehrmann, and you refuse to engage with scholarly sources. You are the pseudo intellectual you accuse others of being.

                  Again, the fact that they used the same words in Greek, and not Aramaic, shows that the Gospels are the rsult of copying the same written source and privileging different theological traditions centered around different leaders of the Early Christian. Community. The Gospels were written in Greek. The educated man spoke Latin. That’s another nail in your common man, elite, middle class rubbish.

                  None of the Gospels was written 20 years after Christ.

                  They do not report the same facts. Christ could not have been born in Bethlehem because It was a ruin at the time around 100 BC to 100 AD. Matthew says Herod was King when Christ was born. Luke says Tiberius was Emperor of Rome. Yet Herod died long before Tiberius became Emperor. One, or both of them, is wrong.

                  The likeliest and most logical answer is that the Gospels mixed and matched extant sources a century after Christ, using different episodes in common accounts of his life to push their differing theological accounts of the figure called Jesus.

                  There us nowhere in the Greek manuscripts of Mark, Matthew and Luke that Jesus is called the Son of God. Which Bible translation are you using?

                • Chuck
                  August 31, 04:30 Reply

                  The source of the Gospels is unknown. The Synoptic ones have a common thread. What you’ve written about the common man, the elites and the gentry is balderdash. No such distinctions existed around 100 AD. You do know the Jews were exiled and the Temple destroyed in 70 AD, right? So where were the people being written for? It’s most likely that the Synoptic Gospels copied the same sources to the events ,and most definitelywere not written by not an eye witness as no one would start his own Gospel as ” the Gospel according to Matthew”. Who refers to himself in the third person at the start of his own work?

                  I see you’re more willing to privilege what you learned in CRS over the work of scholars like Ehrmann, and you refuse to engage with scholarly sources. You are the pseudo intellectual you accuse others of being.

                  Again, the fact that they used the same words in Greek, and not Aramaic, shows that the Gospels are the rsult of copying the same written source and privileging different theological traditions centered around different leaders of the Early Christian. Community. The Gospels were written in Greek. The educated man spoke Latin. That’s another nail in your common man, elite, middle class rubbish.

                  None of the Gospels was written 20 years after Christ.

                  They do not report the same facts. Christ could not have been born in Bethlehem because It was a ruin at the time around 100 BC to 100 AD. Matthew says Herod was King when Christ was born. Luke says Tiberius was Emperor of Rome. Yet Herod died long before Tiberius became Emperor. One, or both of them, is wrong.

                  The likeliest and most logical answer is that the Gospels mixed and matched extant sources a century after Christ, using different episodes in common accounts of his life to push their differing theological accounts of the figure called Jesus.

                  There us nowhere in the Greek manuscripts of Mark, Matthew and Luke that Jesus is called the Son of God. Which Bible translation are you using?

                  • Tiercel de Claron
                    August 31, 12:37 Reply

                    Sancta Dei Genetrix,what have you been smoking?.
                    The Temple was destroyed in 70AD,but the resistance continued for a decade or so more before the final dispersal.
                    The Gospel of Mark was written around 50AD,more than a decade before the destruction of the Temple,followed less than two decades later by Matthew and Luke,in or around the period just before the destruction.John,the last Canonical Gospel,was written around 80 AD.Wherever did you get 100AD from?.Heck,the Gospel of Thomas,tho rejected as not being divine,has had its provenance traced back to around 50-60AD.Ditto the Gospel of Phillip.

                    “The Gospels were written in Greek.The educated man spoke Latin.That’s another nail in your common man, elite, middle class rubbish.”
                    You really know nothing.The lingua franca of Palestine,Syria,Egypt,Idumea,The Tetrachy,Asia Minor then was Greek,not Latin.That’s courtesy of Alexander,the Ptolemaids and the Seleucid Empires,Aramaic being spoken by the common populace.Even the Mediterranean dominions of Rome spoke Greek,not Latin.Latin became the language of European elite from the early Middle Ages,only to be displaced by French.Go study well before you spout such stite again.

                    “Matthew says Herod was King when
                    Christ was born.Luke says Tiberius
                    was Emperor of Rome.Yet Herod died long before Tiberius became Emperor.One,or both of them,is wrong.”
                    Splendour of God,did you write that rubbish?.Where did Luke say Jesus was born during the time of Tiberius and not Augustus?.
                    Luke 1:5 “There was in the days of Herod,the king of Judea,a certain priest named Zacharias….”.Jesus was born few months after John the Baptist,during the reign of Herod.Compare with Matthew 2:1
                    Luke 2:1-5,”And it came to pass in those,that there went out a decree from CAESAR AUGUSTUS,that the whole world should be taxed.2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went out to be taxed,everyone into his own city.4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee,out of the city of Nazareth,into Judea,unto the city of David,which is called Bethlehem;(because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife,being great with child”.We all know the rest of the story.That’s from the KJV,btw
                    So Chuck,where is Tiberius mentioned there?.The “contradiction” exist only in your head and your animus-filled alternate reality.

                    “Christ could not have been born in
                    Bethlehem because It was a ruin at the time around 100 BC to 100 AD.”
                    That thing you’re smoking must be especially concentrated cos Jerusalem,Damascus in Syria n Bethlehem Ephrathah are such cities in the middle east continually inhabited from time immemorial down to this present day.Archeology bears that out.Pray,when and how was Bethlehem laid waste and who did,for it not to have been inhabited till 100AD?.

                    “There us nowhere in the Greek
                    manuscripts of Mark,Matthew and
                    Luke that Jesus is called the Son of
                    God.”
                    Such a one to be pitied you are,this is just way beyond your ken.Stick to the Qur’an you know.
                    Mk 1:1,14:61-62,1:11,1:24,5:7,15:39
                    Mt 11:27,14:33,16:16,26:63-64.
                    Lk 3:22,4:34 & 41,8:28,9:20,9:35.Not forgetting the words of Satan himself in Matthew and Luke 4,when he was up to mischief

                    • Tiercel de Claron
                      August 31, 12:45

                      Nowhere did I claim Matthew himself wrote the gospel bearing his name,that’s one of your shiny object I won’t indulge you in.Also,referring me to Erhman about provenance,when his forte is textual criticism,is another I will pass.
                      Quite interesting you’d dropped Goodacre as if a hot potato.

                    • Chuck
                      August 31, 17:11

                      What’s your source for the dating of the Gospels?
                      If it wasn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that wrote the Gospels – which is what you argued when you said “I’ll stick to the traditions, thank you” now you are saying it’s not Matthew that wrote the Gospel attributed to him. Who did?

                      Based on the language, internal textual clues, stylistic markers and contemporary references, Mark was probably writtwen arounf “70, in Syria. the source for this are the wrtings of the early Christian bishop Papias.

                      Again, to errors and contradictions in the accounts of Jesus – Herod died 10 years before the census of Quirinius. No Roman census required people to travel to their ancestral homeland to register. Mark 5 claims Jesus threw out the pigs in the land of the Gerasenes. Yet Gerasa was 30+ miles from the Lake of Galilee, and there are no cliffs on the shores of the lake.

                      The Jewish law (the Torah) forbids the Sanhedrin from convening at night, or convening during Passover. These are details found in the Gospels, so clearly they are not literally true and there are contradictions.

                      Archaeologists have found little evidence that Bethlehem was settled at the time of Jesus. It was around in the time of David(700 years before Jesus is believed to have lived) , and evidence for its existence pops back up about 400 years afterwards. It is in doubt. If you have archaeological evidence please present it.

                      I’m back at a computer now – was traveling this weekend. Hit me with your replies and I”’ continue to debunk your claims. I am not using the KJV- which is a translation produced by the Head of a Church. I am using the original Greek manuscripts of Matthew, Mark and John that have been translated by scholars. Those do not call Jesus “God”.

                    • Chuck
                      August 31, 17:21

                      Also, if Mark is as early as you claim( 20 AD – 70 AD) then he clearly wasn’t writing for the common man in Greek. Less than 5% were educated and could speak Greek, and Mark’s Gospel is clearly written in Greek, not translated from Aramaic. SO that’s put to paid on your common man, elite, gentry argument.

                      The middle class and widespread education are consequences of the Industrial Revolution. No “middle class” existed before the IR.

  4. Khaleesi
    August 30, 13:26 Reply

    I have nothing but respect for this man! He makes more and more sense each time, sadly, the opium dazed Nigerians cant even begin to fathom what any of this means, … whatever, made my peace long ago, for me Christian dogma/doctrine are out of the equation and happily so!

    • Tiercel de Claron
      August 30, 13:55 Reply

      Good for you.
      Can we now have done with all that opium namecalling thingy?.It’s gotten old already

      • Keredim
        August 30, 15:39 Reply

        TdC, you kinda grumpy today. Something vexes thee??

        • Tiercel de Claron
          August 30, 15:48 Reply

          Not really vexed.
          Not that much,anyway.Just irks me when peeps come on public fora n make nebulous,but sweeping assertions about things they know nothing about or don’t agree with,cos they think they can get away with it.Nigerians being such sheeple that flow with any tide.
          @Chuck,kindly drop your reply to my missive.I’ll be back,soon as I’m done with what presently occupies me,to attend to it.

          • Keredim
            August 30, 16:45 Reply

            I too struggle to find the connection between Christians and opium. And I am indeed weary of the constant refrain.
            It’s like hearing a bad remix of a terrible pop song.

            Anyhoo, I trust when you have found release from “that which presently occupies you”, you will be in a better mood.. (Release is good?)

            • Tiercel de Claron
              August 30, 21:36 Reply

              Hahahaha
              You’re right,release is good but not the sort you alluded to.Was at a family get-together and my nephs are such as to make one shed every care,like it or not.

  5. Jamie
    August 30, 18:20 Reply

    Lol… Gays abd the religions that despise them though, lol… Try to edit a bible verse to make it seem accepting of you, the next will be even more homophobic!! Man’s products are imperfect…lol

  6. Stranger
    August 31, 11:20 Reply

    Lool Tdc. I want to be friends with you. Such an erudite.

    • Tiercel de Claron
      August 31, 13:18 Reply

      You’re welcome,buddy.
      How are you doing?
      Don’t know if I can be classed erudite,but I try.

      • Pink Panther
        August 31, 16:24 Reply

        You try? Ha! TDC, quit being so modest joor. You’ve already outed yourself all over this post.

  7. Isela
    September 01, 13:03 Reply

    You are a very clever individual!

    • Max
      September 02, 17:07 Reply

      Or a very good copycat.

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