3 Reasons I Quit Loving the Sinner and Hating the Sin

I can’t do it anymore.

I can’t Love the Sinner and Hate the Sin.

In fact, I haven’t done that for years.

I’m writing as a Jesus follower to fellow Christians here, and also to, oh, whoever else wants to listen in, fly-on-the-wall style, as I put down my fork at family dinner and stare at the table and wipe my mouth and swallow the lump in my throat and whisper, “Enough.”

And say a little louder, “Hey, guys? I don’t really buy what we’re selling.”

And sigh with a giant “ppffffttt” to be mature.

Because, enough already. It’s time to lose this phrase. For good.

But how shall we do it?

I know! Let’s turn it into a flea – a harmless little flea – and then we’ll put that flea in a box and then we’ll put that box inside another box, and we’ll mail that box to ourselves, and when it arrives? WE’LL SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER.

Yes?

Yes!

Oh. Not that easy?

SHOOT.

Alright, then. I’ll explain myself.

See, once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I believed in Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin as though it was the Gospel Truth. And the Word of God. And the Obvious Way to Love People while holding fiercely and unapologetically to the Path of Righteousness. To the Narrow Way.

But then I noticed that Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin had the opposite effect of what I intended. That, rather than feel loved, the folks at whom I was aiming it felt belittled. And judged. And hurt. And excluded.

So for a while, in good ideological, rule-following fashion, I tried to make that their problem.

I mean, knew I was being loving. It’s right there at the beginning of the phrase, for God’s sake: LOVE. So if they were intent on misinterpreting my love, was there really anything I could do about that?

But something about my friends’ hurt stuck in my heart and something about my insistent defensiveness caught there, too, and, although I tried, I couldn’t dislodge or ignore them. I kept imagining Jesus on the night before his crucifixion, on the night he was betrayed by one friend and abandoned by others, and I kept thinking about the way he used his time to give just one instruction: Love one another.1 That’s what Jesus felt was the Most Important Thing to drive home the night before his death. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

I kept wondering, when we say we Love the Sinner and Hate the Sin, do they know we are Christians by our love? And the answer I kept circling back to was No. A sad, aching Definitely Not. A certain No Way.

So I began to explore my increasing discomfort with Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin. To examine why I felt more and more ashamed when I held it as my rigid standard of love. To wonder where I was right and where I was wrong and where I needed to make amends. And to ask Love, which is God’s other name,7 to guide me.

And then, as always, Love changed everything, starting with my heart.

Along the way, I realized 3 things about Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin that made it impossible for me to parrot it any longer. Here they are:

3 Reasons I Quit Loving the Sinner and Hating the Sin

1. Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin isn’t in the Bible. It’s a quote from St. Augustine, actually, “cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum,” which translates roughly to “with love for mankind and hatred of sins,” and it has morphed over the centuries from Augustine calling himself out and hating his own sins, which he describes in depth in his Confessions, into something we use to point fingers at others.

And although he and I don’t agree on everything, Tony Campolo spoke my heart when he said, “I’m always uptight when someone says, ‘You don’t understand. I love the sinner. I just hate his sin.’ And my response is: That’s interesting, because that’s the exact opposite of what Jesus says. Jesus never says, ‘Love the sinner but hate his sin. Jesus says, ‘Love the sinner and hate your own sin, and after you get rid of the sin in your own life, then you may begin talking about the sin in your brother or sister’s life.2‘”

2. “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” is made of 25% Love and 75% Sinner, Hate and Sin. And that ratio should tell us something. In fact, that ratio is the antithesis of Jesus’ life, Jesus’ words, Jesus’ actions, and Jesus’ friendships.

Does it really come as a surprise to us Christians that a phrase made of 1 Part Love and 3 Parts Sinner, Hate and Sin has failed rather spectacularly to deliver a love message? Because it’s not a love message, of course, despite what we tell ourselves. It’s a Standards message. A Moral Code message. And a big, giant BUT. We will love you, it says, BUT we will call you Sinner and watch you carefully to determine which of your actions are Sin so we can call you out and Hate those things.

Is it any wonder to us that the love message gets lost in there? Or that we’re missing the mark when we’re more concerned with holding people to a high moral standard than we are with loving them?

It’s OK, though, we say, because we call ourselves Sinners, too! See? We’re not saying we’re any less sinful. THAT’S THE JOY, we cry. That Christ has saved us from our sin. And don’t get me wrong, friends. I believe absolutely that I’m BOTH created in God’s own image,8 worthy of Divine Love just the way I am,9 AND that I sin. But here’s the problem. We act like the redemption message is predicated on being pulled out of the Sin Pit, and that it’s our job to make sure people understand they’re in the Pit, even if we have to pull them down and squash them into the mud for a while to make sure they get it. But what if we believe that the redemption message is predicated on Love? Divine Love. Selfless Love. Gracious Love. Love, love and only love? A Love so big and wild and free it embraces us as we are?

What if we, I don’t know, call people Beloved instead of Sinner? You know, as if we believe that “God SO LOVED the world He sent his son” instead of “God so despised sin…”

3. Jesus taught us to call people Neighbors,3 not Sinners.

Now, it’s not like Jesus was against name-calling or anything. He slung around Hypocrite, Fool and Brood of Vipers with the best of them.4  But I find it fascinating that Jesus reserved his name-calling for the religious community and never for the broken down or broken hearted. Never for the excluded. Never for the lonely. Never for the outcasts.

Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t tell us to love the sinner; Jesus tells us to love our neighbor.3 And then Jesus goes on to define our neighbors as those who are despised, rejected, excluded, ignored, and bullied.

Instead, time and time again, Jesus invites sinners to dinner,5 and accepts the offerings of prostitutes,6 and defends the most marginalized,3 and scatters the crowd that is intent on making the convicted woman pay for her sins.2

Now, at this point, some of you may be thinking, “But wait! The woman who was about to be stoned was told ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ but Jesus also told her to, ‘Go and sin no more.’ So what about that? What about repentance?” And, in fact, when I wrote recently about Sanctuary – about finding rest in little bits of Love that fall as steadily as rain but only hit us drop by drop – I received 4 separate messages from folks along these lines, all of whom noted this. “You’re not sharing the whole picture,” they wrote. “Jesus said to sin no more!”

And that’s true. That’s what happened.

[The crowd] said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. [The Law] commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus … said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” 2

And here’s what I think we Christians keep missing in this story:

Jesus defended the woman from the crowd. Dare I say it? Jesus defended the woman from us. The Righteous Stone Throwers. Jesus sent us away. And then Jesus – and only Jesus, without the crowd there at all – told her to sin no more. You know why? Because it’s Love’s job – and only Love’s job – to change people’s hearts. Jesus never – not even once – tells the crowd to tell the woman to go and sin no more. Because it’s not our job, folks.

At no time are we, the crowd, instructed to point out the woman’s sin.

At no time are we, the crowd, encouraged to exclude the woman.

At no time does Jesus beckon the crowd back and say, “I told her to sin no more, now you go tell people not to sin, too.”

The only instruction that we, the crowd, receive from Jesus is to examine our own lives for sin.

We usurp Love’s place and screw it all up when we pretend it’s our job to identify others’ sins and take it upon ourselves to tell them to knock it off.

the-good-samaritan-ferdinand-hodlerYou know what Jesus does tell the crowd over and over (and over and over) again? Throughout all of the Gospels? Jesus tells us to Love each other. To Love our neighbors. And that everyone is our neighbor.

This is no time for calling out sinners and sin. This is the time to call out Neighbor! And Friend! And to love on each other with extravagant grace. This is the time to create Sanctuary and to be the Good Samaritan who had no standards when he helped the man by the side of road.3 Just none. Except generosity and love.

And so, you see, it turns out I cannot love the sinner and hate the sin, because it’s not my job to root out either one in anyone’s life but my own. But I can become a home for Love, and I can Love my Neighbor, who, it turns out, is every single one of us.

And that is exactly what I plan to do.

……….

UPDATE: I’ve written an update to this essay. You can find it here.

………

Alright, friends. What do you think? Is this on the mark? Or did I miss it by a mile? Agreements and disagreements welcome. I’d truly love to know your thoughts.

……….

40DaysofGraceLogoYou can see all of the 40 Days of Grace posts
here on the Five Kids blog and here on Facebook.

……….

1 John 13
2  John 8
3 Luke 10
 Matthew 23
5 Mark 2
6  Luke 7
1 John 4
8 Genesis 1
9 Romans 5, 8

Art Credit: The Good Samaritan by Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)

……….

UPDATE: I’ve written an update to this essay. You can find it here.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
674 comments
  1. I’m trying to make peace with this post (a lot of which I agree with) and the realities of Gal. 6:1, Ezk. 33:6, Matthew 18 etc. To me it seems that there is a place to examine the sins of others an in love rebuke them and encourage them to repent. Christ certainly did command us to love others…but the greatest command is to love God. God is holy and his desire is that we would be holy as well. One cannot love sin and be holy. So maybe a better way to look at this is, “Love others. Hate sin.” This captures the same heart of Augustine’s quote yet takes away the marginalization that has unfortunately come with people not truly loving the sinner (a label which all humans wear together).

    1. There’s a huge piece you’re missing. It’s the relationship. I’m brutally honest with my best friend and daily we seek to correct each other and hold each other accountable. Because we LOVE each other. Rebuking is built entirely within the context of a loving relationship. It’s never judgmental or directed at strangers or even casual acquaintances. I call out my friend because I want her to be the best version of herself that she can be, because it MATTERS to me.

      Most Christians fail at this, thinking it’s their job to be holier than everybody else, to appear to be perfect while judging others. They act like the hypocrites that Jesus was quick to call out as bad people.

      1. I think often times when I hear someone say “Love the sinner, hate the sin” it is in the context of people they don’t have a close relationship with. If you are turning someone away from your home or business, you are failing to build that relationship first.

  2. This essay does say it so well, it’s about loving your neighbor as yourself. I’ve been so dishearten with the way Christians treat non-believers. I’ve even told so that I would prefer being in the darkness of the world shining a light of hope, peace and love, than to sit and cast stones. You nailed it in this writing. Thanks!

    For those that want to make sure that the essay is corrected, I say shame on you because it speaks volumes and I know it is a tool that can bring people to know Jesus. I think your disagreements and use of scripture here is the flesh trying to override the Holy Spirit. Please leave it as it is.

    1. In case you missed it Ivon the Christians are the one being persecuted all over the world. Man is commanded to spread the Gospel. I am sorry it offends you first you say you don`t want to sit and cast stones. Then the very next paragraph you say shame on you?

      1. “Christians are the one being persecuted all over the world” That’s a rather arrogant egocentric thing to say. People of all faiths, without faith, of all color race, creed and sex, are being persecuted all over the world. I’d even go as far as to say among those being persecuted we are by far in the minority.

        Let’s us as Christians stop being on the giving end of that, and really let’s stop the persecution complex. We Christians are fine, we have a relationship with god in a place in paradise. Let’s focus on those who need our love and help and not our judgement.

  3. Thank you for this. I have long thought about all of these points – and you eloquently stated what I was struggling to say and backed it all up with the beautiful words and heart of Christ. Thank you.

  4. I had to go through it slowly to get past all the funny stuff but I liked it. You are right of course. I also wanted you to ponder the concept of tolerance. I don’t find it in the Bible anywhere. Too me, tolerance means I put up with you or someone. Jesus did not simply put up with people and quietly grind His teeth while He was with them. He loved them. Why can’t we? It does seem simple. Why do I need to analyze everyone? Do they challenge my thinking? If they have sin lurking around inside of them, will it rub off on me? Christ has not given me the job of straightening out other people. I’m still having trouble with myself when I look in the mirror. If I analyze you and analyze myself, can I honestly say that I am ahead of you. If I was perfect, I would have a starting point for that challenge. Since I am not perfect, I should spend my time doing just what Jesus wants me to do. Love His children. Sometimes difficult but not often impossible.
    Between now and eternity, allow the Love of Christ to completely surround you. Let His Grace transform you. Let His Light shine through you in every way possible. You sure do not need my permission to shine. But I’ll give it to you anyway. Your friend, Carey

  5. This post is wonderful!!! We should all love thy neighbor!

  6. Best sermon I ever read in Starbucks!!! I’ve been so frustrated by all the judgment going on in reaction to the US’s recent legalizing same-sex marriage. I’ve wanted to yell, “It’s not our job to judge people! It’s our job to love them as they are!!!” Your words have touched me deeply and I have shared them with my Facebook circle. God has blessed me through you!

  7. […] of new people have been coming to the blog lately to read about Jesus — the Why I Quit Loving the Sinner and Hating the Sin post. I felt like I should maybe apologize to them for writing about Fucking, Austria, but then I […]

  8. The essence of the Word is for us to put forth unconditional love. It is the same kind of Love that Jesus offers to us.
    We do not have the information to judge any person or situation. We see only from our perspective.
    it is hard to shake off hurts, but with the power of the Spirit, we are the benefactors as we are free from all resentment. Never mind if the sinner deserves it; we forgive anyway…….as Jesus forgives us.

    We are judged as we judge others. That settles it for me.

  9. […] what I imagined would be my first blog post but it is. It’s a result of me posting a link to this blog post on Facebook and getting the following […]

  10. Thank you for writing this post. I wish that more people conducted themselves in the same manner as you. Maybe someday…

  11. Thank you so much for this. I was raised in the church and (both parents are pastors), went on a gazillion mission trips, played various leadership roles in practically every Church-related group I was in, attended a conservative Christian college, graduated with a minor in Bible, married a radical convert, served in our church for eight years and finally… FINALLY… I couldn’t take it anymore. I took my tiny baby and ran away from my violent, oppressive husband. I turned to my church and was condemned. Leading up to the divorce, I had called upon every single pastor in the church begging for help. None of them responded. I was shamed for not praying enough. In spite of the five Christian counselors who told me that my husband was a narcissist and would not change, I was rejected and abandoned by the community I had given my entire life to. I called a former paster of the church (who was never allowed to preach because she didn’t have the right genitalia) and she said that taking a break from the church was a healthy choice. I was scared to leave. It was all I had known. What would the outside world be like?

    I very soon came to find out that non-Christians were more loving, supportive and compassionate than any Christian I had ever met. They were practically lined up to help me get back on my feet with my little baby. My entire life had dissolved and slipped through my fingers. I had NOTHING. Nobody outside the church ever made me feel like I was lesser because of it. However, I did hear from many Christians who shamed me for “poisoning the well” by speaking out against the shaming and judgement I had received instead of support. I was even called by the head pastor who completely lost it and screamed obscenities at me before settling down and apologizing. I knew that I had made the hardest, but best choice to leave.

    I lost my marriage. I lost my community. I lost my home. I almost lost my dignity. But slowly, I was able to reassemble a life that allowed me to LIVE and LOVE. Now, years later, I share a safe, stable, warm home with a man whom I admire, respect and love thoroughly and I know that he feels the same way. He is GOOD to us. He loves my daughter as if she were his own baby. I’m sure that there are plenty of my former friends who have shared a “prayer request” about me. I’ve been told that the yoga practice I picked up is a form of devil worship. I’m sure that at least one former friend is still praying that I will repent and come back to the fold. To them, I am nothing more than a sin on legs. I am not to be associated with. I’ve been rejected by the vast majority of them and you know what– that’s okay. I’m happier without that nonsense in my life.

    I no longer see myself as a sinner. I see myself as a human being who more than anything desires love– Love. My sole desire in this life is to love and be loved. And I wish we could all know that desire. I live in Love. I am free to love instead of judge and hate. My heart is so full of Love and I have never felt more free or close to the heart of Love.

    Now, my “sin” is hidden. I look like every other nice Christian white lady. I could walk into a church and be welcomed as a stranger– just so long as they don’t know that I’m an unmarried mama! I cannot fathom the emotional rollercoaster that those with less hidden “sins” (members of LBGT community, for example) have to endure at even the mere thought of attending a church. I can’t imagine the tidal waves of shame and judgement they have been assaulted with.

    To be very frank, most Christians aren’t intelligent enough to sit down and think for themselves about this issue. They, like I was, are taught NOT to think for themselves, but to obey the Bible. They are taught scripted prayers and grow up watching older Christians offer up gossip and judgement served up as “prayer requests.” It’s the culture I grew up in and lived out with the best of them for YEARS. I even remember a pastor telling us that in order to love someone, I HAD to pass judgement on them. I had to judge whether they were a person deserving of my love. NO. NO. NO. It’s all wrong.

    Just love. That’s all. When you finally stop judging, blaming, excluding and hating others, you’ll find out that the world is FULL of EXTRAORDINARY people who all want the same thing: Love.

    xoxo

    1. But there is no love outside of Christ. Unfortunately, you were surrounded by people who had hardened their hearts and did terrible things to you, physically and emotionally. No one can justify that behavior with the Truth of the Bible. The legalism in many churches is binding and cruel. I am so sorry for what you endured. I hope you can someday find a church family that loves you for who you are, the gifts you and your child have, and the courage you showed in standing up for yourself. You are a precious child of God whom He would never wish to be treated so poorly.

    2. I honestly felt for you – that you had to go through what you did. I’ve been reading lots of posts about post-fundamentalism or leaving fundamentalism.

      I had a similar experience when I switched my family to a church like this – but fortunately the whole family left and we got to stick together!

      Perhpas you would like to check this site out, but I’m sure they are more. http://recoveringfundamentalists.com/

      I am glad you got out of such of an oppressive place in your life. I sincerely wish you well, and hope, if you want one, that you can find a more welcome church community – if you haven’t already.

      I’m still to scared to put myself out there, but one of these Sundays maybe.

  12. Yes, I know we are to love. We are to love our neighbors as Jesus instructed. My question to you is not about the sin that doesn’t hurt me or others…my question is, am I supposed to not hate murder? Am I supposed to not hate cruelty and torture and theft and adultery? Am I not supposed to hate evil? I can forgive and love those that commit those sins, but are you asking us to not hate the actual act that is sinful? I’m going to go read your updated article. Hopefully you’ve addressed this…

  13. I love your heart in the article, though, I do not completely agree. I think that this phrase captures what we Christians are supposed to show to non-Christians as well as other Christians. I mean even when talking about other Christians who may have messed up, this phrase can be used.

    God hates sin; sin goes completely against his character and we as Christians should despise anything that does not glorify God. We should detest sin, others’ and our own, but because God loves people and we love God, we are to love people because he does and he commands us to. The problem(s) arise with this phrase when Christians fail to show God’s love and power.

    It is so powerful that he loves SINNERS and accepts us even though we do things that go completely against his character. This fact should propel our love for others! The phrase is totally fine; it makes what God calls us to easier for people who are new Christians to better understand what God wants.

    1. I agree with your take, Julie. Everything that Beth says here is not necessarily untrue, but I think it leans a bit toward the lenient side. I love that she’s passionate about loving as Jesus loves (all Christians should be), but I see that Jesus, out of love, pointed out others’ sins and encouraged them (commanded them) not to commit those sins. Isn’t it charity and imitation of Him that we lovingly do the same, not because we hate or judge, but because we know the Truth, we know right and wrong, and we want others to know when their souls are in danger, just as we’d want others to do for us?

      1. The truth is that this is a pretty complex issue for many folks, and it shouldn’t be decided without much careful spirit led bible studies.

        What I did one weekend was go to gospelcom.net and do a keyword search of the word judge filtering it to the new testament to get to the heart of what Jesus wants of us. I printed them out. I read them all. I underlined them. I categorized them by such things as”judging a member of your own church? “judging a nonbeliever” “judging a stranger” “how to do it” (as in – do you pop yourself randomly into discussions without even understanding them just to say: that’s a sin) or do you do it in a quiet room away from others.

        The next thing I researched was how to treat a non-believer. This I just googled, and found many sermons online with references to bible verses.

        Lastly, the verses which talk about the law, and when you are under it and when you aren’t, and what is more important is a good thing to understand by a keyword search of the new testament word law.

  14. Sorry Professor, you have taken 1 Corinthians 6 out of context. Go back to 1 Corinthians 5:9- “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.'”

    Beth’s heart is right.

    In this day of mass media, a person would have to be a complete recluse to have missed the Christian’s message of “Sinner!” to those who do not believe and are committing the most heinous sins. We have missed the very heart of the gospel when we tell them to stop sinning. Where is the GOOD NEWS?! This in itself is a sin against them. We tell them over and over they are sinning but we have not told them there is salvation in Jesus. Are we saved by repenting of our sin only? NO. We will commit another sin somewhere, somehow. It is by accepting the salvation of Jesus.

    We have taken the attitude that America is Christian and by doing so, we have forgotten that there are those who do not believe. Do not use quotes to sinners intended for the Jewish nation of Israel. We do not live in a “church state” as they did. No, we should not rejoice in sin but if we believe “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” then we would be finding ways to show the sinner the love of God and the joy of salvation.

    Consider the woman at the well. Jesus told her of the living water that leads to eternal life. She knew she was living in sin. He never called her a sinner but told her to bring those she was with to hear of his living water also. She knew he knew.

    If we loved the Lord our God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves, then we wouldn’t be weeping over sin from the pulpit. We would be weeping for joy at the offer of eternal life that comes from the forgiveness Jesus offers us and sharing that with others.

    Honestly people, does no one study evangelism anymore?

    1. Evangelical Christianity seems to me, and to many people, to have adopted a message of exclusion, condemnation, and, yes, even hate.

    2. Wow. I admit to being overly emotional here – but this concept was an inate part of my life. When I grew up and went out into the fundamentalist christian world I was just so sad for them, and for how they were turning folks away from Christ.

      At first I just knew I could show them logically and biblically how it was truly messed up and went against christ. Quickly I realized that their minds and years were COMPLETELY closed! Although I felt defeated I still posted these concepts hopng somebody ready to year them would explore them.

      It really feels so joyful to have this bit of fellowship with like minded people.

      People I grew up with (and many people posting here) would agree that the steps toward bringing one toward christ can only be this:

      1. First you share your good news with them – how personal witness, how Jesus has transformed your own life! and only if you’ve established a sort of trust, a relationship with them.

      2. Then, they might take a second look at the New Testament (because here in the United States 99% of the people already know what the bible and christianity is all about.

      3. Then, they may become open to believing, and this open ness les the Holy Spirit in (which is baptism, before the water).

      4. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside them can te then be expected to understand what behavior is hurting their life, their relationship with Christ.

      The first time I heard what Evangelists in Anerica believe is evangelism I honestly laughed – like are you fricking cracy? But soon I researched online and knew it was their faith telling them to be this way.

      1. Walk up to a complete stranger and tell them they are sinning and the only way they won’t go to hell is if they stop sinning and THEN believe – which simply means reciting John 3:16 like a stepford wive. Surely anybody with a good education can see that this will NOT EVER work yet it is their behavior and they do it as rudely and with meanness and malice and hateful accusations – because they are told that is what love is.

      Thanks for indulging me! I had to get it out.

      This article put forth here, and its ability to plant little seeds into people is very exciting to me!!!!

      Thanks for the insights you provided in your comment.

  15. I really appreciate this article. While i believe in Jesus and read and research everything i can on Jesus and chose to be baptized at 12, i no longer choose to identify as a Christian because of the messages of so many of his people. I am an anergy worker and much of what i work with is what i call the Jesus energy, he is always present when i am praying or working on someone, but i simply can not get in line with so much of what i hear from “His” people. I read and reread Brennan Manning because of this similar message. Thank you for putting Jesus back in conversation.

  16. […] is a link to a great article. The author writes about changing the way we in the church speak and, more importantly, changing […]

  17. I love your writing. It’s so refreshing to see other philosophical Christians out there, questioning the crap that has been shoved down our throats by self righteous, insecure, unhappy people. I read the update to this as well. Every comment I’ve read that disagrees with your viewpoint is from someone who seems to be missing the point.
    In recent years, I’ve been able to rid myself of the insecurities that most people are burdened with. In doing so, I’ve developed from a judgmental, up-tight and very unhappy person into something so much more. When you learn to love yourself, inside and out (the way God intended), you start to see all of the beauty around you. I don’t judge people anymore, and I’ve come to find that the only reason I ever did was because I wasn’t happy with who I was. When you start to see people the way we were meant to, love truly takes over. Real freedom is being free from our own chains that we make for ourselves. When you can look at people and see beauty in everyone, you won’t feel the need to belittle them to make yourself feel better.
    I find that the most judgmental people out there have the most skeletons in their closets…
    I think the point that is missed in your post is the “sinner” part. Love the sinner, hate the sin… how about love the person…the unique human made up of millions of ideas and personality traits that make that individual like no other. Hate the sin? How about we get off our high horses with our noses in the air, degrading how others live their lives and EMPOWER one another. Lift each other up, help each other show GRATITUDE for all this life has to offer through the grace of God. Practice POSITIVE lifestyles and spread positivity wherever you go.
    Stop letting insecurities rule your lives, stop caring about who’s watching or who you need to impress! God is watching… do you think he wants you to make his other children feel horrible about themselves? Or do you think, just maybe, he’s hoping you’ll give his “sinner” children a warm smile or hug or kind word to make them feel important, seen, worthy…
    Lets take it old school…if you have nothing nice to say, keep it shut. I believe in radical honesty. I do not candy coat anything. I don’t tell people what they want to hear. I am up front and honest…but I ALWAYS find a kind way to express that honesty.
    Ps…this screen is little and I need to change my son’s diaper and put him to bed, so spell checking is out of the question 🙂

  18. I desperately want to agree. It sounds so good, and I believe that the spirit and heart behind this article are spot on. I choose to fill what I don’t know about this author (whose writing style I love, by the way) with trust.

    But I have a hang up, because I read articles like this, and then I go to the Bible and read passages like Jude 20-23…

    Hang on…as a Jesus Follower, I’m SUPPOSED to have a reverent fear and – yes – HATRED of sin? And not just sin in my own life, but also in the lives of others?

    You bet – my sin ought to disgust me first and foremost. It ought to nauseate me, sicken me, fill my heart with sorrow.

    Sin in any form – in ANYONE’S life ought to do that.

    And you bet, Jesus models perfect love that somehow came across without condemnation, hatred, or judgement.

    But true love for my neighbor does not require the absence of the news that God calls us all to repentance, obedience, SELF DENIAL…

    True love does not require silence on my part, for fear that my neighbor might feel bad or feel offended (there’s a whole different tangent there).

    So this is where I land: Jesus Follower, Pastor, Church Leader – preach/speak against sin. Preach/speak HARD against sin.

    But do it with genuine tears streaming down your cheeks. Do it with the agony God feels over all our sin twisting in your gut. Do it in a spirit of love, compassion, MERCY (see Jude again).

    THAT is love. THAT is the heartbeat of God. And THAT is something God’s Spirit can use to convict, call, and save people far from God.

    1. Surely the mix-up with all of this is that some people seem to have added “thou shalt not be gay” to the list of commandments? Are you saying that you would judge someone for being a sexually active gay person? And that you would feel that that was ok because of the tears streaming down your cheeks? I can see judging murderers, rapists, and people with sin in their hearts, though I would try not to. I can’t see judging people for practising the sexuality they were born with, consensually. That’s just silly.

      1. Oh but actually i see I was reading all of these posts with pink-colored spectacles, thinking that the subtext was homophobia. I am sorry that I am judging even as I write about not judging! Hypocrisy, anyone?

        1. I am happy that I have no idea what you are attempting to say!

          When I read your post it seems that you are happy to find hypocrisy like you were looking for it – with the goal of calling it out.

          I ask you to restate what is really on your mind, in a way that opens discussion, encourages new perspectives and well love for people who are sincerely attempting to understand what Jesus wants from us regarding this – the most divisive widely misunderstood component to our faith.

  19. You don’t “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” ?

    So what is it? Do you hate the sinner or love the sin?

    Color me confused…

    1. No, neither, this means DO NOT JUDGE. Plain and simple. Do you all get it now. Stop the debate.

      1. I think this was what Pope Francis was getting at when he said, “…who am I to judge…?”

      2. Tammie You are being clearly disrespectful bordering on hostile. It is uncalled for to cry out how wrong we all are here, and to tell us to stop what we are doing.

        If you are not being spiritually fed please find a place to do so, without condemning the sincere efforts of others to understand what is in fact a complex issue to the rest of us.

        1. Cindy, respectfully, I understand where you are coming from. Truly. I could be misinterpreting, but Scott seems to be using a cynical strawman argument. While I’ve read other comments of yours that DO characterize “sincere efforts to understand”, Scott’s comment seems to be undermining those efforts with sarcasm. I share Tammie’s frustration.

  20. No, this is a messed up article. We Are to Love the sinner Hate the sin, that is what the Bible is all about, it is mentioned through stories and many scriptures in so many words. (1)If I were to sit with a person smoking crack in front of me, God would want me to love them, while watching how satan has consumed them and Hating that sin he has infiltrated a person with, that is not being judgmental or judging the person’s reasons/past it is simply hating the sin and loving the sinner enough to do what God wants in that situation. (2)If I saw a Pastor deceiving his people, a wolf in sheep’s clothing (stealing, lieing, twisting scripture, denying Christ)I am to pray, get the facts, and if it is true he’s a wolf, I would LOVE him and the church enough to confront, Warn, rebuke, and then avoid. We are called to be “fruit” inspectors as well(Matthew7:16). That doesn’t mean we are judging the person, it means we aren’t brain-dead and blind and we try to rid satan of his control of that person(HATING the sin) but loving the person. We ARE to judge righteously (JESUS said in JOHN7:24-Judge not according to the appearance, but JUDGE with righteous judgment). We are to help with a good heart motives(use good judgment), not in a critical mean way(being judgmental). (JAMES 5:20-remember this: Whoever TURNS a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.)

  21. No, the is a messed up article. We Are to Love the sinner Hate the sin, that is what the Bible is all about, it is mentioned through stories and many scriptures in so many words. (1)If I were to sit with a person smoking crack in front of me, God would want me to love them, while watching how satan has consumed them and Hating that sin he has infiltrated a person with, that is not being judgmental or judging the person’s reasons/past it is simply hating the sin and loving the sinner enough to do what God wants in that situation. (2)If I saw a Pastor deceiving his people, a wolf in sheep’s clothing (stealing, lieing, twisting scripture, denying Christ)I am to pray, get the facts, and if it is true he’s a wolf, I would LOVE him and the church enough to confront, Warn, rebuke, and then avoid. We are called to be “fruit” inspectors as well(Matthew7:16). That doesn’t mean we are judging the person, it means we aren’t brain-dead and blind and we try to rid satan of his control of that person(HATING the sin) but loving the person. We ARE to judge righteously (JESUS said in JOHN7:24-Judge not according to the appearance, but JUDGE with righteous judgment). We are to help with a good heart motives(use good judgment), not in a critical mean way(being judgmental). (JAMES 5:20-remember this: Whoever TURNS a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.)

  22. Interesting article. It’s food for thought. I was wondering, however, how 1 Corinthians 5 fits into this.

    1. Your blog is well written. Your reasoning is well thought out. As a believer and individual I agree with you completely. A thought you may consider. The issue had to be dealt with in the church as the body of Christ and not just as an individual. The usage of that inadequate phrase: love the sinner, hate the sin; was probably used by spiritual leaders in reference to the body of Christ as whole vs as a message for the individual. The church is where sinners of all kinds are welcomed. But when a particular sin is forced on the church as legitimate and forcing the church to respond the church has to say we love sinners but we cannot go along with the idea to legitimize a particular sin. The church (not the individual) has the difficult response to the world who legitimizes a sin to say, we love you but we cannot legitimize the sin. Therefore, I appreciate how you helped us as individuals to respond vs how the church as the body of Christ as an organization with elders, teachers etc needs to respond. Thank you.

  23. Yes, but what if my close friend is a heroin addict that I have feelings for (she’s a girl and I’m a guy, we’re both in our twenties)

    it hurts so much and she doesn’t want to change, also I have sinned by lusting after her

    should I keep trying to love and help her, when in fact I’m just hurting myself?

    I don’t seem to be doing much good to her by being in her life

    yet I feel like God may be calling me to help her, because she might have died already if it weren’t for me calling an ambulance for her while she was overdosing, and protecting her from her friends who encourage the behavior

    am I overstepping my responsibilities as a human and a believer?

    should I flee from sexual temptation rather than subject myself to it?

    thanks

    1. Son, I understand your struggles. Not with heroin, but I have been there. I have fallen into the trap of wanting to rescue vulnerable, hurting women from their self destructive choices and quietly hated myself for the humanness of my own desires. I say to you, no more. No more. God’s power is enough to rescue us from anything, but you cannot be His instrument. Recall scripture. You do not have what you pray for because you ask with wrong motives. Deep down you don’t merely want to save her for her own best interests, but also for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with loving someone, a sexual attraction is a natural extension of emotional intimacy. Pray for God to help you recognize the difference between Lust and sexual attraction. And wrap scripture around your heart when it reminds us that we learn self control so we do not take advantage of our brothers and sisters. Flee from immorality, yes, but you will not learn the practice of self control by hiding from sexual immorality. You learn it by being in difficult situations, putting g on the armor of God, And then standing when all you want is to lay. If you do not learn this Satan will use your lack of practiced self control against you. And the biggest way he does that is through self doubt a d self condemnation. Forgive yourself for being human. Forgive yourself for your confusion. Forgive yourself for trying to rescue her, and let her go. Rescuing someone does not make them love you. Break the rescuer/damsel pattern now. Love is not a handyman special you have to fix. We chase vulnerable, broken damsels so we can either feel great about saving then or feel not bad about ourselves when our efforts invariably fail. Get out now. Love yourself and attract love worthy for you. Place her in God’s hands and leave her there. I have lived your journey. I am your future speaking back through time what I desperately wish someone was there to tell me when I was in your place. Peace to you.

  24. previous was written by Copyright © 1999 James L. Melton
    except- I get confused by your logic.
    We are allowed to judge in fact it is sin for christians not to judge.. Sin is sin and the pulpits better start preaching this again

  25. I get confused by your logic.
    We are allowed to judge in fact it is sin for christians not to judge.. Sin is sin and the pulpits better start preaching this again…

    Is It Right to Judge?

    How many times have you heard someone whine, “Judge not, that ye be not judged?” This verse of Scripture from Matthew 7:1 is often quoted out of context by people who are terrified at the idea of someone preaching against sin or pointing out any form of error in anyone, especially in themselves.
    As for Matthew 7:1, the context (verses 1-5) allows judging after you have first judged YOURSELF. Jesus did not make a blanket statement against judgment. He simply pointed out a RULE for judging.
    Now, the word “judge” in its various forms (judgeth, judging, judgment, judges, etc) is found over 700 times in God’s word. One whole book of the Bible is titled “Judges” for it was written at a time when God raised up judges to lead His people.

    As we are about to see, God EXPECTS His people to judge. In fact, you are sinning against God if you refuse to judge! (Read that again, please)

    God Expects Us to Judge

    “The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.” (Psa. 37:30) A righteous person will talk of judgment. He will not REFUSE to judge. He will talk judgment.

    “Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:14-15) How can you hate the evil and love the good if you refuse to judge? You can’t. You are SINNING when you refuse to judge.

    Our generation is well described in Isaiah 59:8: “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.” People have refused to judge, so there is no peace.

    Paul said in I Corinthians 1:10 to “. . . be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Why would Paul make such a statement if judging is wrong? In I Corinthians 2:15 Paul says, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” Judging is not a sin; judging is a characteristic of being a spiritual person! Satan has been lying to us, hoping that we will NOT judge, because he knows that the right kind of judgment PLEASES God and betters our lives and Christian service.

    Someone says, “But should we judge PEOPLE?” Yes, we certainly should. Paul actually REBUKES the Corinthians for NOT judging: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (I Cor. 6:1-5) If judging is wrong, then Paul needs to confess and repent for misleading these Christians! He clearly told them to JUDGE PEOPLE.

    If judging people is wrong, how can we obey Romans 16:17-18? II Corinthians 6:17? II Timothy 3:5-6? I John 4:1? Friend, if judging is wrong, then God has contradicted Himself and His words cannot be trusted!

    Notice Malachi 3:18: “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” WOW! Does that sound like it is wrong to judge?

    What about Revelation 2:2? ” I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” Why would the Lord be pleased with these Christians if judging was wrong? Is it not impossible to find someone a “liar” without judging them?

    If the Bible is clear about anything, it is clear about the importance of judging on a regular basis in order to properly serve and honor God. To ignore this fact is to ignore all of the Scripture just presented and also the rest of the Bible. God expects us to judge.

    God’s Rules for Judging

    Now I do not wish to imply that we should spend all of our time judging. Sometimes people judge when they have no business doing so. In John 7:24 Jesus tells us to judge RIGHTEOUS judgment. This can only be done by following the rules that God has established in His word. Here follow seven good rules from Scripture:

    Judge Scripturally

    Isaiah 8:20 says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Our standard is God’s word, not our feelings, our traditions, or our opinions. Right and wrong should always be determined by God’s word.

    Don’t Judge When God’s Word Is Silent

    If God’s word is silent about a subject, then you may not have to judge at all. Don’t rush to judgment on an issue when the Bible says very little or is silent about it. Don’t make more of a matter than God makes of it. A good example of this is found in Colossians 2:16: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:” That is, these are not subjects of great importance today, so let’s not make these great issues of judgment.

    Pray for Good Judgement Ability

    When Solomon received his kingdom he asked God to “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” (I Kings 3:9) James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” We should pray for good judgment ability.

    Don’t Respect Persons

    Proverbs 24:23 says, “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.” Treat all parties fairly without favoring anyone, such as family members or friends. A truly fair judge is blind and deaf to any outer influence. (Isa. 42:1, 19-21)

    Judge in Truth

    Do not judge another when you do not have all the relevant facts. Jeremiah 5:1 says, “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.” A true judge is one who seeks the truth. If you must judge, be sure and get all the facts. A Japanese proverb says to “search seven times before you judge.”

    Judge Mercifully

    Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:2: “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” You’ll reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7-8). If you are swift and harsh in judging others, then God will see to it that you receive the same from others. Has God not been very merciful to you, even though you deserved it not? Likewise, you should exercise mercy toward others.

    Don’t Forget to Judge Yourself

    I Corinthians 11:30-31: “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” If you are a true Christian, then you belong to God. You are God’s child. If you refuse to judge and improve yourself as a child of God, then God will take it upon Himself to judge you. Many of the troubles that we face in life are nothing more than God’s way of judging us since we often neglect to judge ourselves.

    Wouldn’t it be amazing if every Christian actually took time to judge themselves before judging anyone else? In Matthew 7:4-5, Jesus says, ” Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” A good judge will not fail to judge himself

    1. Thank you for this reply. It is very helpful, informational, and Biblical. It includes the truth of Gods Word from the entire Biblical narrative and not just a verse here or there taken out of context. Keep responding and battling against lies that are attempting to absolve absolutes and make truth relative to the individual. We need a standard, a morality outside of ourselves. God has given this to us in His word. Thank you for dividing it rightly. Be blessed Professor Patrick Ricciardi.

    2. Thank you, Pastor! I just had a dealing with a friend a couple of days ago on Facebook. He is a homosexual and responded to a post I made regarding the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. I posted my views on the subject, which are formed by my faith in Christ Jesus, and my friend stated that I was twisting Scripture to opress and hate-monger. He then attempted to use Luke 6:37 against me and I spent almost 4 hours composing a charitable, respectful reply to his charges. I wish that I had a lot of these verses that you have referenced in this comment, but even with the few verses I used, I believe that I proved the Scripture commands Christians to judge, just NOT int the place of God, nor self-righteously. We are most definitely called to judge sinful actions of others. May God bless you and give you peace.

    3. No, it is not right to judge. It is not our place. Let him who is without sin throw the first stone. Can any of you throw a stone? No. Go judge yourselves.

      1. This is one of the reasons I’m an Atheist now. The bible is so full of contradictions you can disagree with someone so totally and be both quoting scripture.

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