Why Christians can hate the sin and not the sinner.

I think anyone reading my Facebook page will see that ‘tolerance’ only goes so far. It seems that any serious threat to the modern gods of individualism, pluralism, relativism and liberalism is crossing a line. There are some ideas that are almost impossible to speak about publicly without people taking it personally. I apologise for the offence that my beliefs have caused people. If you don’t want to hear what I have to say, please don’t read it.

Let me make this as clear as I can. I don’t hate any of you. I don’t hate gay people. And neither does God. Everything I am saying comes from deeply held convictions that are grounded in genuinely wanting the best for people. I’m far from perfect. Even though I’m trying really hard not to attack people personally or react emotionally, and instead present a carefully articulated account of what I believe, you will see if you read the various comment threads that I am never as clear as I could be. My words are easily misunderstood and I am seen by many as a hater. Something’s not working here.

I truly believe that if we can understand each others’ worldviews better we might be able to at the very least reach a peaceable ‘we’ll agree to disagree on this one.’ But maybe it’s too late for that. Maybe the content itself is so confronting that no matter how well it is articulated, it will still be heard by some as hate speech. Either way – this post has further inspired me to produce some articles about the Christian worldview as I hold it to be in an effort towards this.

Because my God is a God of love. Not the kind of love that compromises in order to accept any and everyone regardless of who they are and what they do or believe. A love that sees the evil in each of us, knows it and feels the offence of it personally, and yet instead of wiping us out as He should have long ago – achieves the impossible, at the cost of his own son, all in the name of love:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8 NIV)

When I say homosexuality is a sin (which I only do when pressed by the way), people think I’m saying homosexuals are sinful, and that I’m not sinful. But this is where we misunderstand each other. The very fact that I confess Christ as my Lord and Saviour is a recognition that I am powerless, I am ungodly, I am a sinner. Otherwise why would I believe that the perfect son of God had to die for me?

I think this means Christians can have a unique approach to people. It means we can truly hate the sin and not the sinner. I think people don’t see this as a possibility with homosexuality. And its understandable. When someone’s sexuality is such a deeply felt thing, so hard to separate from someone’s identity – how could you possibly oppose that part of them without judging them as a person?

But the difference is that Christians have no warrant to judge others without first judging themselves. And because they judge themselves to be guilty, they know that they are no better at living God’s way than anyone else. Our starting point is sinfulness. Our only hope is Jesus’ sinlessness. So we can hate the sin in ourselves and others. Even the sin that seems is unavoidable because its so much a part of who we are.

And it means we can truly love the sinner. No one is better than anyone else. All of us fall short. All of us need help. True ‘equality’ if you like. It means we can treat others like we would want to be treated.

And yet, Christians like myself still fail at this distinction. We continue to sin – even though we know the offence that it causes God. Even though we know the great price that it cost to rescue us from it. Even though God’s Holy Spirit lives inside of us. So in some ways when we sin, we are worse than those who don’t know Jesus – we should know better. Christians sin when we are judgmental. We sin by looking down on others. We sin by hating the sinner and not the sin.

Like I said above – because I hate sin, because I know what it cost Jesus to rescue me from it, I really don’t want to do it. I especially don’t want to sin against a group of people who are marginalised by society and to whom Jesus would have reached out to with love and forgiveness. So if you see me doing or saying something contrary to what you think the Bible teaches, please let me know (preferably in a private message). But please don’t assume my motivations for what I’m saying – you can’t judge motivations by what someone says. That’s between me and God. I’m sure my motivations are not 100% pure – I know I’m sinful. But I want you to know that everything I say comes from a prayerful heart, meditating on God’s word, that truly wants to speak the truth in love. Even if I fail at it, that’s what I’m trying to do.

Love doesn’t always mean being unoffensive. If someone knows something important, that has a big effect on someone else, but doesn’t share it because they’re worried it might offend them – is that love? I, for one, would prefer the truth the hurts than the lie that keeps the peace.

I’m sure there’ll be outrage to this comment as well. I’m learning that’s unavoidable with a worldview that confronts the ‘gods’ I spoke about in the first paragraph. I guess I can’t tell you not to take this personally, and I can’t ask you not to attack me personally – what you do with these words is up to you. I’m just telling you what I believe, to try and help you understand where I’m coming from. If that offends you, I’m not surprised. People killed Jesus because he offended them. People keep killing his followers to this day. It hasn’t stopped Christians continuing to hold out the truth. Because we know that death is not the end – Jesus is risen and he will raise us also!

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3–5)

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