HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

Love sinner and hate sin in the light of the Christian doctrine that hate that cannot be helped isn't sinful
 
We live in a world where many feel that when they did grave evil against those who they perceived as harmful enemies they were provoked, or mistaken or carried away by the heat of the moment.  They feel they could not help the hatred they felt.  Some feel that maybe they could help it but are not sure.  Muslims may say that certain sins such as blasphemy and homosexuality are sooooo offensive that it is to be expected for believers in God to overreact.  Catholics who see abortion as murder may lose control and shoot abortionists.  In war, you are expected to go berserk in some ways in order to eradicate the enemy.  War demands that.  Rage and offence could be used as an excuse to get away with the evil you have done.  Human nature knows it has to convince itself that it is innocent when it is not.  That way their defending themselves comes across as more sincere and consistent.  Human nature more than not looks for a way to get off the hook.

 

No faith says that hatred of the enemy even when it leads to murder is a grave sin or a sin at all when through human weakness you lose control in anger.

 

They say the end result is bad but as a person you are not bad.  You are not sinning.

 

What use is the principle that such behaviour is harmful and bad then in that case?  There is no point in caring about principles if people cannot act on them.

 
Going out of control necessarily means that you will not understand the consequences properly. So you cannot be fully to blame. If you let yourself lose control, in reality you think you know what will happen but you cannot. It is a mistake.  If you lose control you deserve compassion but since you are sacrificing yourself for the wrong good and it is not your fault you would still be entitled to a reward from God.  God has to reward all actions that would be well-meaning if they could be or well-meaning bad things done without preparation and under pressure.  If you go out of control because of evil impulses, God in his generosity would have to reward you. After all, it is not your fault you lost control and he has to assume you would have done good instead if you could have.

 

Victim-blaming is rife in society.  We must not believe the religious pretence that victims are always cherished and loved by religion.  The sinner is considered to be in spiritual danger and in danger of Hell so the religion is going to worry more about loving the sinner than caring about the victim.  Spiritual danger is considered more harmful than anything that is done to a person.  The religionist who claims to love the sinner loves nobody when she has no real concern for the sinner's victim.  To fail to protect the victims or care is to really fail to protect anyone. 

 

Liberals and the Left go all wishy-washy about terrorism especially religious terrorism.  But their fine words will not help for they refuse to admit that the terrorists feel provoked by things done by the target countries to their own people and by things that they see as grave sins such as homosexuality and semi-clothed women.  They refuse to admit that religion sees some sins that are not really that bad or which are in fact good as grave evils that wipe out the light of God in your heart and draw you to become the enemy of God and man for all eternity in Hell.

 

It should be noted that if it is true that we need to hate sin and moral failure in ourselves and others, that this is an admission that vengeful feelings are necessary. They are excused on the basis that the alternative is supposedly worse. To hate sin means you approach it like a person and hate her or him. Loving the sinner and hating sin is treating the sinner as a person who is not sin, the other person.
 
To see sin as a person when it is not and in order to hate it on the personal level is outrageous hypocrisy. It is claiming that there is nothing defiling or bad about hating a person as long as it is not a real one! But if hate corrupts you, it corrupts you whether you hate a real person or not. The attitude is still vengeful and malign.
 
That nobody will see you as sincere if you say, "X is an amazing person. He just made bad choices when he murdered those babies" shows that the Church's love for sinners is faked. Saying that is passive aggressive hatred for the babies. It is a boast for accusing somebody of being evil and saying you can still love them is quite a heroic achievement.
  
The Christians say you can only sin in so far as you freely choose to sin. You can do serious wrong without intending it to be as serious as it is.
 
Love the sinner and hate the sin, in principle says, that it is possible to be a good person worthy only of blessings and go out of control with hate. It may as well approve hate in such circumstances. The principle never claimed to be easy. If you hate anyone or anything the hate risks going out of control. It is saying yes to the risk. That would be a hateful act in itself.
 
Love the sinner and hate the sin indicates that we do not live in an ideal world. So if the love part is good and the hate part is less good but necessary then there will be problems. Believers will say we have to take the problems with the principle for it is still the best principle though it has its risks and flaws.
 
Hate is the urge to hurt another person just because you want to see them hurt. Most who discourage hate argue that it is to be avoided for it gets too easily out of control and your perception gets distorted more and more all the time as it becomes a habit. Your view of others becomes polluted and bitter. Most people see hate as a Pandora's Box and this is their main reason to oppose hate. Such a view suggests that hate is not bad in itself as long as it can be kept within boundaries. This makes you suspicious of those Christians who claim to believe in hating the sin and loving the sinner - they are trying to smugly hide their hate and are examples of passive aggressive hate. And there are people who seem - who seem! a seem does not amount to an are! - capable of restraining hate. Incredibly, religion claims to be good while it makes the desire to hurt sin or hurt people far more fierce.

An atheist does not believe that hurting another person offends God or offends God's law. The atheist should worry about what the hurting of another says about her or him and what it does to the other person and maybe that person's friends and family. The atheist thinks in terms of hurting others but not in terms of sin - sin is breaking the moral law of God. If atheists hurt another person, they mean to hurt that person. But if believers in God hurt another person, it is not just about what they did to that person. It is about God too and God comes first. So belief makes the intention of the believer to hurt far stronger than the intention of the unbeliever. Faith in God and faith in religion lead to making evil intentions more worthy of condemnation and invent sins which do not exist. It is evil to accuse a person of sinning when we should accuse them of having done wrong - there is a difference that matters hugely. You need proof before you can accuse somebody of a crime against God and that means proving God and that the "sin" be it sex before marriage or whatever really is a sin. Belief in sin and God and religion amplify your wrongful intentions. They make you more evil inside if not outside than you would be if you were an atheist.

Suppose you are to love the sinner and hate the sin. Suppose you get a choice. You are forced to hate one of two people but you get to choose which one. Do you hate the murderer? Do you hate the person who sins in saying that loving the sinner and hating the sin is nonsense? It follows that the latter person is worse for he attacks a principle that matters more even than the principle that murder is wrong. It is more basic. The murderer hated the person he killed but the denier of love sinner and hate sin will hate anybody who he sees as a sinner. Thus you should hate the person who says love the sinner and hating the sin is nonsense. Even if love the sinner and hate the sin is the best principle, it does have its dark side. It still says to others, "If I have to hate you then I will." In the midst of love we are in hate.

If you love the sinner and hate the sin in such a way that you consider the sinner as good as a person as the saint, you are repudiating justice. You make yourself bad and a hypocrite. You do violence to the sinner you allegedly love by portraying your nonsense as good.

If love the sinner and hate the sin is based on the notion that the sinner is not all bad then the Church is saying nothing special. Society generally also says that bad people are not all bad. This principle does nothing to stop hate. Its fervent preachers still hate people. In fact Catholics for example may think that Protestants are worse at obeying the principle than they are and are to be feared. Intending to hurt God by sin is seen by religion as worse than merely intending to hurt another person so clearly the Church only boosts the numbers of those who hate and gives them more reason to hate.

If you hate sins and sinners it is not a sin at all if it is the only way to be fair to those who deserve love. After all, it is an insult to the philanthropic doctor to love Jack the Ripper as much as him.

To hate evil is to give in to evil and become evil and negative. This contradicts the Christian teaching that hating sin is a good thing. Hating evil can make us hard and cruel just like hating a sinner can. And indeed it would be more effective for you tell yourself the hate is good. And if the hate is not directed at a person then there are no social constraints put on it. You won't feel guilty about it and it will grow legs. And the reason the hate of sin is so powerfully corrupting is that you are telling yourself that it is not the person but the sin you are hating when in fact it is as much about the person if not more as it is about the sin.  The concept of evil is bad but sin is worse it implies that not only is evil harmful but it shows contempt for divine law. The evil man and the one who believes in sin can do equal harm to others but in their hearts the latter is more evil.

 

Those who admit that hating sin is bad are not suggesting we should not care about sin or love it. They say that would be worse than hating sin. So it wants us to hate sin as the lesser evil.

If you really hate sin, you will hate it because you love the sinner so no matter how much you hate sin and how harsh and stern you get you are only doing it because of love and so you cannot be called hard and cruel at least as far as your intentions go. The teaching would imply that since you are in a better position to judge yourself than another person that self-hatred and self-torture should be the Christian's lot!  The love the sinner and hate the sin teaching turns you into a cruel person who is in denial.  Even if you could succeed in loving the sinner you change yourself and one day you will hurt that sinner or somebody else because you have trained yourself in hypocritical cruelty.
 
If I hurt a person badly, it would be downright evil and insulting towards that person for people to view me as a non-sinner while my sin is seen as nothing to do with me so that I can be loved and the sinner hated. The teaching of loving the sinner and hating the sin cannot work or do any good. It is only there for cosmetic reasons and nobody genuinely believes in it anyway.

To love the sinner is to put the sinner in danger. Love and hate - vindictiveness - are two sides of the same coin. If you love a person, you turn on the power to hate them should they hurt you. To class them as sinners makes this more likely to happen. You certainly consent to cause them pain if they do not appreciate your love the way you want! The line between love and hate is thin for hate is distorted love.

Also, if you love them then if their sins hurt them, you hate the sins for it. You must hate on some level anything that can hurt them. You cannot want your loved one to live unless you hate the possibility that they can die. Good needs evil. To love good you need to embrace the evil of hating evil. We are able to attribute blame easily to inanimate things such as the car or whatever. We personify evil in order to hate it. In a sense it is more vindictive than hating a person for we have to go out of our way to have personal ill-feeling towards the sin. That is good training for hating people. And hate is necessarily opposition to rationality and inner peace so inviting it into your heart is to say, "Take me wherever you lead. O bull, we are in a china shop and I untie you."

Love the sinner and hate the sin is useless because those who teach it do not say what they mean by it or what it should mean. Thus it is not really intended to help. It is really to cover the manure heap with pink paint. The preachers cannot say you love the sinner in spite of the sin for that implies reluctant and therefore conditional love. Receiving such "love" would only make a sinner more defiant. And to say you love the sinner because of the sin makes no sense and implies we should love the worst people the most. To love the sinner because of the sin implies that the sin is to be hated but not punished which is totally contradictory. The sin instead of being hated becomes a reason to love! So there are two possible interpretations and only two. Neither of them is sensible. Atheists would struggle with loving the person who embraces evil and hating the evil they do. Religionists have a bigger struggle and have to manipulate people to think that evil is more evil than what it is. There is no real love in so far as something is manipulation. God and religion make the problem worse not better and they sow the seeds for hate and even if it takes decades for the seeds to grow they will grow.

The believers even say we must not judge the sinner but the sin. That makes as much sense as saying judge the sinner not the sin. Judging is partly about helping the wayward person and showing him or her that their deeds are unacceptable and intolerable and so if you try to deter the sin not the sinner then clearly you do not care about the sinner. You hate the sinner with the sin in that case. In psychology, evil people do grave harm when they tell themselves that they are doing away with a threat not a person when they murder somebody perceived as bad. Religion is to blame for this form of disassociation or cognitive dissonance. It passes on the skills that can lead to complete horror.

One side of judging is about condemn the sin so that the sinner might change and repent and make a fresh start. Another side of it is that if he or she doesn't repent then he or she deserves to be and should be left to suffer the consequences and not be encouraged to change.
 
Religion knows and admits that we are all flawed and many of us do conflate sin and sinner and virtually cannot help it. When such people are urged to hate the sins of others and their own, they are clearly being incited to hate the sinners.
 
We conclude that feeling comforted by the doctrine loving the sinner and hating the sin is short-sighted. The doctrine is not the defender of love that it masquerades as. Social pressure keeps religion and religious people from being as bad as they could be or as bad as they want to be. It is certainly not their love.  They do allow hating the sinner but in a way that disguises it and which hides their responsibility for creating hate.  If we live in a world where people end up mostly having hate for some types of sinners they cannot help then love the sinner and hate the sin is just an ivory tower doctrine and a bucket of religious whitewash.
 
 
Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Monarch Publications, East Sussex, 1995
The Future of Atheism, Alister McGrath and Daniel Dennett, SPCK, London , 2008
Ethics: The Fundamentals, Julia Driver, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2007
The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, Edited by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2007