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3 Reasons “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin” Is An Abomination

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.”

About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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  1. For me, love the sinner and hate the sin has never been about the LGBT alone. I didn’t even know this article was about it until you veered in that direction. That phrase was in use way before people started discussing homosexuality in Nigeria. For that reason, I’m tackling it in a general sense.
    If we want to bring God’s word into a discourse, we must remember that the Bible is not just one part; we must compare scripture to scripture for better understanding. Don’t ask me why God made it that way. His word is a journey, a lifelong school and He wants you to study to show yourself approved. No one ever graduates from it.
    So, the Bible says “for God so loved the world…” of sinners and saints alike. But in so many other places the same Bible talks about God hating our sins. So, we could say he loves us sinners and hates our sins. Jesus sat with sinners doesn’t mean he loved the way they lived their lives. In fact, he came to earth to save them and all of us from God’s wrath.
    If one had a child that becomes a prostitute, should the person as a Christian now hate the child? No. Should the person, while loving the child now accept prostitution and say it is good because their child is engaged in it? No.
    So there comes the difficult task of Christians loving their brothers and sisters and hating their sins. I think where I have problem is when we term people as “sinners”. Only God can rightfully do that because He alone sees all our hearts. So to me, we are all brothers and sisters because the worst “sinners” I have seen were from the church.
    So yes, Walter, God wants us to hate the sin, whether it’s ours or of our brethren and yet love the ‘sinner’, ourselves inclusive. I think if we see ourselves as flawed and as sinful, it would be a lot easier to love our neighbors (the way they are) as ourselves.
    And one last thing, let’s not take for granted God’s love and grace.

  2. When I started reading this article, I had a very open mind. I wanted to learn something new. Halfway down the rant, I recognized it for what it is: a totally skewed piece of writing, hurriedly scribbled in defence of something.
    For a second, I thought of writing a reply. But I changed my mind. It’s not worth the time I’ll spend on it.

    • It wasn’t skewed. It wasn’t hurriedly scribbled. But yes, it was written in defense of something. It is only in LGBT issues that I hear that phrase so patronisingly used.

  3. What Sally and Eketi said. I tried to make sense of the writer’s argument and logic. Neither quite holds up.

  4. I didn’t go past first 5 lines. But seeing you guys are all here, make I go read am! 😀 😀

  5. And this constant attack on Christians is just disgusting. Islam doesnt support homosexuality. In fact, when that law was first passed in Nigeria, it was the North that recorded a lynching on a supposed gay couple.
    There are many atheists who don’t support the gay lifestyle. Traditionalists aren’t left out of this dislike for homosexuality.

    But do they get attention? Hardly.
    It’s just a free for all, let’s bash the Christians anyway, any time. I’m sick of it.
    For an article that quoting a Jésus that was quite clear on his stand on homosexuality, this article is grossly lacking in facts and truth.

    • @Eketi- my sentiments exactly..u have said it all..I could give you a big hug right now..lol.
      One more thing..i think some people are making a mistake here o..judging from their comments..the above piece/article isn’t Walter’s personal opinion oo!

  6. I’m respecting you friends of the author for your comments and for not being swayed by sentiments. You didn’t let the fact that you are his friends deter you from telling the truth (which is contrary to his opinion) and correcting him. In fact, you are true friends to him. Sally actually spoke the very polite version of my mind. Eketi, in her last comment, drew my attention to a trend I hadn’t even noticed till now. I guess the attacks on Christianity is because it’s the one true religion, and if LGBT can finally get its approval, then they’re unstoppable.
    It isn’t suprising that throughout the whole encyclical, there isn’t a single bible reference to support his idea because there exists none. Well, I’ll just give one- Psalm 15 (pay special attention to verse 4). I was just wondering what phrase should be coined to replace LTSHTS. Perhap ‘Love The Sinner, Love The Sin’ would be a perfect one. Or would it be ‘Hate The Sinner, Hate The Sin’?
    Yes, Jesus didn’t coin LTSHTS himself because he didn’t say it in those exact words. But he said it, nonetheless, through his teachings. LTSHTS is just a simple deduction any intelligent human would make from Christ teachings.
    That Christ interacted with sinners doesn’t mean that he approves of their sins. It’s simple wisdom: you have to reach out with your hand or something to someone in a ditch if you hope to get them out of there, in other words, save them. For instance, I hate smoking, but I have a friend who smokes. It mean that I should start loving smoking because my friend smokes. And it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t tell him any other day that, “Guy, this thing wey you dey smoke, you dey wound yourself o. Or abeg no smoke that thing here, if you reach your house you fit kill yourself there.”
    Christian means Christ-like or followers of Christ. You said, “Jesus spoke to people about their own lives, about the sins they were personally called to address in response to him.” True. And that’s the work of a follower of Christ too. Christ called us all to be like him, to help in the work of salvation, to spread his good news, to admonish and correct each other(Mark 16:15-18). That’s why, even when he was physically present with us, he had apostles, he had help. For instance, Paul isn’t Christ but all his work were focused on telling the Church how to behave.
    You also said, “Jesus asked us to love, period.” True. But not in your own definition of love. A parent who loves his child would not allow any harm come to the child. He would guide and direct them, correct, admonish, and discipline them so that they’d turn out as good human beings who won’t self-destruct. That’s agape love, the type Christ prescribed.
    You’re welcome.

  7. Una try. I couldn’t go beyond line 1. Too bad.

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