Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Love the sinner; hate the sin

I wanted to talk about the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  For a long time, that phrase was the foundation of my social life. I tried to love people in that way, loving the person, but hating the evil they did. What, to me, was evil? The absence of righteousness.  What then was righteousness? Webster’s Online Dictionary says righteousness is doing that which is in accordance with divine law.  I hated that which the Bible told me to hate.

As you know, I have a lot friends these days which you might call “free thinkers”. In that community of people,which includes atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and other questioners, alternative lifestyles are much more common than in the Church.  So, I run into people living these lifestyles more often than I used too.

Until recently, I never cared about anyone who lead an alternative lifestyle, because I didn’t know any.  Now, a few of my many oddball friends fit into that category.  When you get familiar with someone, you can empathize with them, you can accurately imagine what it would be like to live life in their shoes.  You can imagine what they might feel.  I’d never before empathized for someone who was leading any other kind of life than mine and upon doing it, I find the views I held as Christian are vicious.  You can’t really love the sinner and really hate the sin.

A person is the sum of their actions and desires.  You are, simply, what you do.  Most of my readers are heterosexual Christians.  Pretend for a moment, that the tables are turned.  You are still your straight self, but you are suddenly part of a 4% minority. 96% of the population is gay, and most call themselves Christian.  Now hear the things that most Christians believe, from that perspective.

“I think your relationship with that woman, who I refuse to call your wife, is disgusting. I think the sex you have with her is repugnant. To have heterosexual urges that you chose not to act on is sin enough, but there is something especially sinful about having that kind of sex.  But I love you!”

“I think that you are a dangerous predator, and that you cannot be a Scout Leader, and that you shouldn’t be allowed to teach in a public school even if the law says you can.  I wonder what would even make a heterosexual chose a job where they work with children in the first place.  But I love you!”

“I think it is wrong for young children to be taught that people like you even exist.  I supported the removal of the book Heather has a Mommy and Daddy from my children’s school library. I oppose any kind of sex education course that teaches kids it is OK to be like you.  But I love you.”

“I believe that you are part of a vast Heterosexual Agenda that includes heterosexuals in places of cultural authority, like media providers and colleges campuses.  I believe this group is subversively trying to hijack our society by projecting a positive image of your empty and promiscuous life. But I love you!”

How loved do you feel when someone says that it is disgusting that you make love to your wife in both theory and practice, that because of who you want to love and be loved by you are intrinsically a sexual predator, that you cannot be trusted with children in a professional setting, that children should not even know that people of your persuasion exist, and that by association you are part of conspiracy to destroy this nation’s children, this nations way of life, and ultimately, this nation?  Does being accused of horrible crimes make you feel loved?  Is this how you treat the people you love?  Do you postscript love messages to your spouse with the statement “And your lifestyle is evil and worthy of eternal suffering?”

Of course not. Your lifestyle is everything that makes you who you are. It is your identity.  You cannot love a person and hate their identity. Its not possible to love a person and hate everything that makes them that person.  Either the love of the person, or the hate of the things they do; one must be starved.

I choose the love. Within the spectrum of Christianity, I could be seen as liberal or conservative. I didn’t want to starve the hate. Righteousness you remember, is being in accordance with divine law.  God hates homosexuality, it both the Old and New Testaments.  I wanted to be righteous so I loved from half a heart.  I could never let my heart free to love.  I might give my heart to someone who wasn’t saved.  They might die, and then this person whom I loved, would be suffering in eternal agony forever.  Think of the brokenness of spouse who’s beloved is POW.  Think of the terror.  Then think forever.  Your beloved suffering… forever.

So I only let myself love a little bit.  People I defined as Christians got the most love, but even then, I love too deeply to carry the burden of forever.  I couldn’t let myself love someone who might suffer forever, because when we truly love we share suffering.  We are hurt when our children hurt, and sad when our family members are sad.

I loved from who I wanted people to be, instead of who they were.  I missed out on love.  On relationships full of meaning and purpose, because I stopped my heart from going there.  I’m done with that.  As an atheist, I don’t believe in hell or heaven.  I am not afraid to love because of the hurt of the knowledge of eternal pain, nor do feel I can live without friends, safe in the knowledge I will see them in heaven.  I must love my friends right here, right now, because any of us could gone tomorrow, and that would be the end.

Never in my life have I felt so loved as I do now, giving my heart away as I am doing.  This is the face of Joy.  This is the life of purpose and meaning I have longed my entire life.  This is the way I was meant to live.

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July 25, 2008 - Posted by | Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

36 Comments »

  1. What an awesome post! Thanks for sharing so much of who you are!

    Comment by Lottie | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  2. The phrase, “love the sinner hate the sin” is an un-biblical mantra. Yet, we might infer something similar, such as “love your enemies”, etc. But even this command is given by God to US. Scripture teaches that it is ultimately Christ who will judge because He is loving to Himself and upholds perfect justice. The way God designed opposite sex relationships, mentally, physically, spiritually, etc is so amazing and beautiful beyond words. This is what glorifies God in relationships. Anything contrary then what God designed for His glory is sin. If the fairy tale were true that homosexual relationships were the norm, then there would be more diseases, less life, less sexual pleasure, less compatibility, and less glory to God.

    Comment by Cameron | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  3. Wow, absolutely brilliant.

    Comment by Virgil Hart | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  4. the duality of our being-what we are and what makes us what we are is n concept that has trpobled generations.
    your post reminds me of Hawthorne’s concept of sin very b’fully depicted in his novel The Scarlet Letter. we are sinning only when an act leads to guilt, else there is no good and bad, right and wrong..it’s only our perception.
    we become free when we move beyond the realms of “what is always expected”.
    thanks for sharing.

    Comment by tina | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  5. Thank you all.
    Cameron, I’m complimented that you are able to interpret scripture in a way that agrees with me (i.e., “Love the sinner;hate the sin” is bad) But you seemed to have completely missed the point. I am not trying to say homosexuality is normal or should be normal. I am trying to show how homosexuals feel about the things that are said about them in the Christian subculture. You then furthered this subcultures ignorance by saying at the end of your blog “Homosexuals have more disease, less joyful sex, and don’t get along as well.” Something isn’t true just because you want it to be. Instead of only reading what the bible has to say about homosexuals, maybe you should also read some peer reviewed modern statistics.

    Comment by truthwalker | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  6. I agree that Cameron seems to have missed the point. I understood that you were trying to illustrate how homosexuals feel. I’m curious about one thing you said in your comment to Cameron, though:

    I am not trying to say homosexuality is normal or should be normal.

    Do you think homosexuality is abnormal? Or were you just pointing out that whether or not it’s normal was not the topic of this post?

    Thanks!

    Comment by Lottie | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  7. Lottie-
    I just pointing out that whether it is or not, is not the topic at hand. My personal view is that even the term homosexual invites legalism. Before I could express my view of homosexuality I would have to define it. In defining it, I would have to create a incomplete definition, because you can’t cram the human sexual experience into one loaded word. Then I would have to argue my point from a false definition. So, generally, I leave the subject alone unless there can be real dialog between me and the person I am talking to.

    Comment by truthwalker | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  8. Fair enough. I was just a bit confused by that one comment. Thanks for getting back to me on it.

    Comment by Lottie | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  9. Thanks Lottie. Allow me to jump right in and be blunt. In your attempt to not be “legalistic” you are being legalistic in your own way because your views are exclusive. They exclude the belief that homosexuality as a real sin according to Scripture. So it’s not a matter of whether one is “legalistic” but in what way they are. You are legalistic in your own way… the very thing your trying not to be.

    So your overarching point is how the Christian sub-culture makes homosexuals feel. Because Christians are sinners saved by grace they will not handle this sin, or any other sin perfectly. Yet, what about how God feels? I would rather offend someone who is un-holy than God who is perfectly holy. What about His feelings? What about His moral law?

    Tina, you said “we are sinning only when an act leads to guilt, else there is no good and bad, right and wrong..it’s only our perception.
    we become free when we move beyond the realms of “what is always expected”.”

    So is this whole statement to be “expected”??? I’m sure it is otherwise you wouldn’t have said it. Yet, according to the statement itself, we should move on from it! And it is contradictory to say 1. feeling guilty is a sin and then 2. there is no such thing as a sin. If I am to take your comment seriously, I’m left with saying that even feeling guilty is not a sin. Which goes against what your over all point is.

    Comment by Cameron | July 27, 2008 | Reply

  10. Wow Cameron. Keep posting, please!

    Comment by truthwalker | July 27, 2008 | Reply

  11. Sorry, but I’m confused again.

    Cameron, are you addressing the first part of your comment to me? Because I was just asking for clarification on something.

    And now I’m doing it again. 😀

    Comment by Lottie | July 27, 2008 | Reply

  12. I meant it to be to truthwalker, sorry lottie. I’m used to names being by the picture in forums. My bad. I’m all about interchange truthwalker, your turn.

    Comment by Cameron | July 27, 2008 | Reply

  13. No problem, Cameron.

    By the way, Truthwalker, I sent an email to the address that shows up in your comments. Just thought I’d mention it in case you don’t check that account regularly.

    Sorry for the off-topic stuff. I’ll show myself out now. 😉

    Comment by Lottie | July 27, 2008 | Reply

  14. No thanks, Cameron. I don’t debate with people who believe God is on their side. (What would the point be?) But please feel free to continue talking with Lottie or any other posters that pop in.

    Comment by truthwalker | July 27, 2008 | Reply

  15. truthwalker, I believe truth is on my side and you believe truth is on your side. In this way we are no different from each other. Especially in your case, hence your name is “truthwalker”! But for some reason you overlook your own bias and only see it in others. Thus you stop conversing with them. Again folks, here we see legalism at its pinnacle.

    Comment by Cameron | July 27, 2008 | Reply

  16. Cameron, I is totally possible that I am being legalistic in someway I haven’t yet perceived, my beliefs are a work in progress. If its OK though, lets set that aside for the moment. If you wanted to discuss the post, could please name single point that you took umbrage with? Then I can make a response to that point and we can have some real two way communication.

    Comment by truthwalker | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  17. Sure truthwalker, you said “You can’t really love the sinner and really hate the sin. A person is the sum of their actions and desires. You are, simply, what you do.”

    Here’s what I agree on: “God loves the sinner but hates the sin” is not found in the Bible… anywhere.

    Here’s what I disagree on: That we aren’t welcoming people unless we welcome their actions and desires too.

    Why? As a Christian, I am to love murderers but not love murder. I am to love liars but not love lying, etc.

    Therefore, to truly accept someone does not mean we must accept all that they choose to do and desire.

    On the flip side, it would be loving of me to try and get murders and liars to stop.

    Comment by Cameron | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  18. Well you are right about one thing. We do disagree. You say…
    We are to love murderers.
    We are not to love murder.
    Therefore, we do not have to love what murderers do to love them.

    Love is shown in action. I wish the people I love to come into my house when they please. I do not wish a murderer to come into my house as he/she pleases. Therefore, I will not say that I love murderers.

    Comment by truthwalker | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  19. As a Christian, I am to love murderers but not love murder. I am to love liars but not love lying, etc.

    I have to be honest and say that even the phrasing of this bothers me. You “are to” love people? As in, you’ve been instructed to? I don’t understand how someone can follow an order to love someone. Real love doesn’t work that way.

    Another thing that bothers me about the idea of (allegedly) loving everyone, is that it trivializes and undermines the real love we have for the people that we, well, really love.

    If I go around professing to love people who disgust me and whose behavior I find repulsive, what’s special about telling my son and my husband that I love them? I’m aware of the different kinds of love (agape, etc.) but English speaking people don’t usually make that distinction without having it spelled out. I want my family to know that when I say I love them, it really means something. I shouldn’t have to get a picture pad out to explain what I’m talking about.

    Like Truthwalker, if I find someone’s behavior so vile that I won’t let that person into my home, I will not profess to love him/her. I don’t love him/her. Love is not just something you feel, it’s something you do.

    The idea that humans can love everyone is absurd. We love, we hate, we feel a variety of ways toward people. That’s reality, and there’s nothing wrong with any of those feelings. How we respond and react to those feelings is a different story. But I’m not going to lie and say that I love people I despise. End of story.

    Comment by Lottie | July 28, 2008 | Reply

  20. truthwalker and lottie, the type of “love” I am NOT talking about is philo love (friend love), eros love (sensual love), BUT agape love (serving love). Just for the sake of clarity. Now, if neither of you love murderers, then you are both holier than Jesus Christ, because He loved murderers and died for them. Also, here we see truthwalker being very legalistic, the very thing he is supposedly against but only on his preferred terms, because he loves those who carry out certain actions but not others.

    Comment by Cameron | August 1, 2008 | Reply

  21. Like I said, English speaking people don’t usually make those distinctions.

    And I’m not holier than anyone. I’m not holy at all. But I am honest.

    Comment by Lottie | August 1, 2008 | Reply

  22. Cameron, you seem to be confused, and I am sorry for the part I might play in that. This is not a Christian blog. Arguments from Scripture are arguments based on authority. I have no more faith in the authority of scripture than you might have in say, the teachings of Buddha. So unless you know how to craft an argument without attempting to use a mythologcial text as a source document, maybe you should not post here. If fact, if you attempt to post any more bunk, I’m going to edit all your post to say “Blah, blah, Blah”, ban you from posting, and leave Lottie and my comments on here. Feel free to attack me as a person, or for my hypocrisy, or preferably for an error in my logic. But I don’t post semi-coherent exegesis of works you consider fictional on your blog, please don’t do it on mine.

    Comment by truthwalker | August 1, 2008 | Reply

  23. Lottie, English speaking people do make those distinction when there is clarity. But anyways, I basically stated that accepting someone does not mean you have to accept what they do. It is obvious that we all pick and choose what behaviors we will more readily accept in people.

    Truthwalker, I was mainly pointing out that you choose to love some who carry out certain actions over others. I’ve been waiting for you to say something consistent, but I’m starting to catch on now that you may not be interested in that. I’m not trying to be mean, just honest. Like Lottie, I’m honest too.

    Comment by Cameron | August 2, 2008 | Reply

  24. Lottie, English speaking people do make those distinction when there is clarity.

    That’s kind of my point. I don’t want to have to clarify what I mean when I say I love someone. And I don’t love everyone, and I won’t pretend to.

    But anyways, I basically stated that accepting someone does not mean you have to accept what they do.

    And I basically disagree. If you don’t accept my lifestyle, my choices, the way I am, you don’t accept me.

    Turhtwalker presented an excellent analogy to make this point. The fact that it is clearly lost on you tells me that you lack empathy. If that’s part of Christianity, keep it.

    Truthwalker: I don’t mean to disrespect you be commenting in this manner to another one of your members. This line of discussion just has a tendency to wear on a person.

    Comment by Lottie | August 2, 2008 | Reply

  25. Ok. I will spell this out. Even though this IS NOT about homosexuality, since I used it in the blog, I will use it again here. I used to be a Christian. As a Christian, I had to follow the Bible. The Bible says that I must love all people. The Bible also says that in the Old Testament that God wanted homosexuals to be stoned to death. This was the unchanging God’s command to His nation. When Jesus came, followers of God were defined by their love of Christ and not by national boundaries. Thus, the national laws were no longer to be followed, their purpose of creating a national identity from which the Messiah was to be born having been accomplished.

    Still, despite the completion of the old covenant and the creation of the new, God’s command in Leviticus 20:13 reveals an aspect of his heart, his character, that remain part of his character today.

    To accept the love that is taught by the Bible, I must accept the fact that at some level, in some way, it is just and moral (God being the fount of all that is just and moral)to want to homosexuals to be killed.

    Christ is both the son of God and God himself. Christian maturity is the degree to which a person shares the heart of God: Offended by what offends God, pleased by what pleases God, etc.

    As such, I must love all even those in sexual sin, such as homosexuals. I must also believe that prior to Christ’s ministry, it was right and moral to stone them to death.

    I must, in short, both love them, and believe that at one time they should have been singled out and killed for their lifestyle.

    Its not possible.

    Yes, I do love some people more than others. I am now free to do that because I no longer ascribe to the belief that I must love all people equally.

    The high water mark of my post was the last bit, when I explained that since I can love who I chose now, instead of loving who I must, I love more deeply. And since I don’t find nearly as much wrong as I used to, there are so many people that I can let myself love. This irony was the point of the post. That by becoming an atheist, I have experienced deeper love towards others, and been loved more by others.

    Comment by truthwalker | August 3, 2008 | Reply

  26. The high water mark of my post was the last bit, when I explained that since I can love who I chose now, instead of loving who I must, I love more deeply. And since I don’t find nearly as much wrong as I used to, there are so many people that I can let myself love. This irony was the point of the post. That by becoming an atheist, I have experienced deeper love towards others, and been loved more by others.

    Just so you know, I really did understand that. I just wasn’t able to articulate it as well as you have.

    And it’s an excellent (ironic) point, I’d say! 😀

    Comment by Lottie | August 3, 2008 | Reply

  27. Oh, I know you did Lottie, and I don’t mind you arguing on my board, I think its fun. Please, keep reading my crazy stuff!

    Comment by truthwalker | August 3, 2008 | Reply

  28. Like someone said before me, love is not just a feeling as so many people seem to think. It is an action. It is what we do. We are to love others the way Christ loves us. And he loves us no matter what sin we commit. Who are we to refuse to love any person because of what we do. We do not know what God’s plan is for someone who may have once been a murderer, but the Bible tells us to show people forgiveness and mercy to people that sin against us. The Bible also tells us to trust in the Lord. When we forgive someone for sinning we are trusting that it is for God, it is what God wants, and that we planted a seed and that God will use that person. By us refusing to love a person who sins, (which by the way, we all do, remember what Jesus said about the non-sinner casting the first stone)we are being disobedient to God (sinning against God) ourselves. The Bible tells me that God loves all (not just believers) but all of his children.
    By saying we hate the sin, that really has nothing to do with the person, but the spirit within the person that may have a stronghold on the person. We all have things that we struggle with, and while the Bible describes the sin as evil and we are to hate evil, we are never to hate the person or to view the person as evil. The book of James (sorry i have no numbers, this is off the top of my head) says that anyone who says they are without sin is not only a liar, but calling God a liar. Therefore, even the most righteous of righteous sin against God.
    Bottom Line- We are to love, forgive, and show mercy to all.

    Comment by Rachel | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  29. Again with the “are to” business.

    I simply cannot follow instructions to love someone I do not love. My love doesn’t have an off/on switch.

    Comment by Lottie | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  30. Rachel, thank you for commenting, and I appreciate your honestly, sincerity and thoughtfulness.

    But I find your response a little confusing. I don’t want to pick on you , but if you don’t mind answering some questions I’d like to ask you some.

    Comment by truthwalker | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  31. Go ahead and ask.

    With the “are to” business, I personally believe as a Christian woman that God is my father and I am alive and free today because of his grace and mercy. I believe that every word in the Bible is truth and that it is God’s word. It is my right to believe, as well as it is your right not to believe. People so often complain because a Christian tried to tell them how to live their life, but I tell you that more often I have been told that I am wrong in the way I live mine. The writer said herself that we are a minority and from experience I get mocked, persecuted and critisized daily. (But I am grateful for all of that because it only makes me stronger in Christ and builds my character.) The writings seem to discredit these words as if we are to mistreat those who sin, and that is not the case. I do also believe that there are many so-called Christians who do mistreat people and try to justify it in God’s word, and this turns people away from God because their experience with a Christian was that opposite of love. What many people forget is that being a Christian is not just following a set of rules. It is having and developing a relationship God and being filled with the Holy Spirit. I do not feel at all, like I am being forced to love anyone. The Holy Spirit which dwells in me can’t help but to show love, mercy and compassion for every person I meet. Of course, being a human and a sinner, I forget sometimes and my anger or frustration comes through, but no person is perfect like I said before.
    So, don’t ever feel like you are forced to love anyone. Nobody is forcing you to do anything. You have a choice, and I have a choice. We just chose different ways.
    Again, Ask me anything you want.

    Comment by Rachel | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  32. Excuse me —- Himself 🙂

    Comment by Rachel | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  33. Sorry me again,

    Truthwalker I have one question for you about something I am confused about. You said you dont debate with people who believe God is on their side. So who do you debate with?? What is the point of having a debate if it is only with people who agree with you?? Just wondering. Maybe I read it wrong.

    Comment by Rachel | August 27, 2008 | Reply

  34. Rachel,

    I didn’t mean to be rude, I just meant that I don’t “get” it. I still don’t.

    –Lottie

    Comment by Lottie | August 28, 2008 | Reply

  35. According to the New Testament, the love of Christ means loving someone so much that you would be willing to die in their place. With the exception of my wife and daughter, and perhaps my siblings, there is no one on this earth that I would voluntarily die an agonizing death to save.

    It is precisely because I believe that love is an action that I believe this. If crucifixion is the litmus test for love I am not going to pretend like I would do that for neighbor, yet I must “love” my neighbor.

    Rachel, if you are able to follow the Bible and brings you peace and joy, do it. I accept the fact that I could be wrong. Sometimes I hope I am. But for me personally, the command to love others required me to lie to myself at some level. I don’t really love child molesters, for instance. I never have. I don’t forgive them, because I don’t believe that such a thing could be forgiven. If I tried to obey scripture, then I must love a child molester as much as I love his victim. I, personally cannot. Further, I must believe that there is something wrong with me for not doing so. I can’t do that either.

    When I said I don’t debate with people who believe that God is on their side I meant this.
    I can’t. No one can. If I God is bigger than reason (and if he’s not he’s not much of God) then no reason, no evidence, no proof would matter. Truth to me, both when I called myself a Christian, and now, is that which conforms to reality. If you believe there is some para-reality that trumps any piece of reality I could show you, how could we possible debate? If you like me, believe in God only if God is true, then you believe that truth is bigger than or at least as big as God.

    My Question:

    What do you mean by “but the spirit within the person that may have a stronghold on the person.”

    Comment by truthwalker | August 28, 2008 | Reply

  36. You are correct. Thank you for clearing that up. It is nearly if not completely impossible to discuss issues of God without using scripture because for me it is fact and thats all there is to it.
    You have expressed your confusion not just toward me but toward the other Christian on this blog which is understandable because I wouldnt expect you to understand spiritual explanations. I have to admit I cannot take credit for the love I show to people because the love I show for people does not come from me, or from my flesh. To really understand this or to receive this you must believe in spirituality and the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that leads me to make all of my Godly decisions. Love, Forgiveness, Patience, Gentleness, Generosity, Kindness, Goodness, Joy, and Self Control are manifestations of that spirit, and when one is filled with the Holy Spirit, these attributes will come out. This is where I am able to love those who have made mistakes in their lives. Rachel without God would not be able to do that either.
    I guess that is really all I can say about that. We can debate forever on this issue, but as I said before you are not forced to love anyone. So dont feel you need to justify yourself.

    As far as the other question, (and I must use scripture) Ephesians 6:12 discusses how we wrestle not with the flesh, but against principalities, powers, and wickedness. Colossians 2:15 tells us that God disarms the principalities and powers (which we are in spiritual warfare with) that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them.
    Basically what this means is that we struggle with the enemy (evil) while seeking righteousness. I believe that a person struggling with the sin is not identified by that sin, but are allowing that power to be victorious over them. Well I will leave on that note. I hope I was able to make it a little more understandable, but again, I cant expect you to understand spiritual things. I will tell you this… GOD still loves you, and I will pray that you are in peace and receive blessings and that God will protect your family. Take Care.

    Comment by Rachel | August 28, 2008 | Reply


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