October 4, 2014

Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin


The phrase, "Love the sinner and hate the sin,"  it's one thats really started to bother me lately. Ok, there's two parts to this quote. The first is, "love the sinner". The second part is, "hate the sin". But with my experiences that I'm gonna share with you, it seems like church members seem to spend way too much time on the second part, hating the sin, and almost no time at all on the first part, loving the sinner.

So a couple years ago when I was back in Oregon living with my parents and going to their home ward (the ward I kinda grew up in), it was the third hour, Elder Quorum. Which is my least favorite hour of the three hour block. Anyways, in the first row is the guy that always has the Peter Priesthood answers. And I don't remember what the topic was that day in class, but I remember he said, "I really do love the sinner but I hate the sin", and then he proceeded to spend ten minutes explaining how he hated the sin. I didn't think of it at that point, someone brought it up to me later when I was telling them about this story, and they said, "shouldn't he be spending more time loving the sinner instead of hating the sin?"

He spent ten seconds saying he loved the sinner but that was negated by the ten minutes afterwards explaining how much he hated the sin (which really was about hating the sinner). And so I thought, you know, thats so true. Aren't we as church members, as christians, aren't we in charge of loving the sinner and don't we leave hating the sin up to God?

So, let me take you back now two weeks, when I was in Washington for my grandma's funeral. I stayed for Sunday and with what family was left  went to church. And in Sunday School, I can't remember the topic—which you know, maybe something teachers should take note of when you can't remember the topic but can remember one or two quotes, maybe you should spend more time teaching the topic. Anyways, there was three separate people in the class that seemed to love to take everything back to gay marriage and how they opposed it and it was wrong and it's destroying the world and in fact one gentleman said, "it's enough that was have to tolerate the gays, now we have to tolerate gay marriage?"

Now, I don't let thinks like that bother me because really— it's words and I live by, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."Anyways, a few minutes after those comments, my sister lend over and asked, "whats the scripture about the way we judge others is the way we're gonna be judged?" So I Googled it and found it for her. And then a few minutes later, she looked over at me and she said, "I'm really sorry. I hope you're ok. You know, this class isn't this bad usually. I'm really sorry." I explained, you know it doesn't bother me.

She explained that the reason she looked up that scripture is because the gentleman who said, "it's enough that was have to tolerate the gays, now we have to tolerate gay marriage?", she said, He really has no place to judge because he has a child in jail. And so in her own way, she wanted to defend me.

But, it got me thinking, and I actually wrote down, "the only people Christ chastised were the religious people who were chastising others."

If you think about it, the woman who was brought to be stoned because of her adultery, who did Christ chastise? He chastised the Pharisees, the religious people, for chastising her, the sinner.

I think one of the things we should learn from that and something that I wish everyone knew, is that we as humans, church members, Christians, we have the responsibility to spend all of our effort, one hundred percent, loving the sinner. We're suppose to leave the rest of that quote up to God. That's not our place to do.

So if we spend our time loving the sinner and leave the rest up to God (hating the sin) all we have to do is love. And what I know Christ's gospel to be is love one another. First, love God, the great commandment and the second is like unto it love thy neighbor.


  1. I wrote this awesome comment the other day, but I screwed it up and it got deleted. I'll try to recreate it.

    Here's my question for those "Love the sinner, hate the sin" people. When, exactly, did Christ say this? NEVER! You know what he did say? "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Hmm...doesn't quite sound the same, does it. Let me try something else that He said: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 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." Nope, still not telling us to hate sins. Well, gee...what was He telling us to do? Could it be that he was telling us to mind our own business? Was he telling us to worry about our own sins before we spend time worrying about the sins of others? Huh...what an interesting concept.

    You know, as Mormons we have a teaching problem. We don't teach our classes the way we really ought to. As a professional educator, I can tell you that you should plan a lesson with a learning objective in mind. That learning objective should be the focal point of the lesson. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to ______. Everything I plan to have the class do during the lesson should lead directly to them being able to meet the objective by the end of the lesson.

    So, I plan my lesson on repentance. My objective is that students will learn how to repent. So if I am the typical LDS Sunday School/Priesthood/Relief Society teacher, what do I do during class? Well, I read the story of Alma the Younger. Class, look at how evil he was. Look at the bad things he did. He was awful. Wouldn't obey his father and he wouldn't obey God. Class, let's look at Alma's repentance process. Next story: King Noah...bad bad bad man. Evil king. Wouldn't listen to the prophet. Bad bad bad bad BAD!!! Don't let your daughters date a King Noah!

    At the end of the lesson, have my students mastered the objective of learning how to repent? Sort of...in a scewed way. They didn't learn how THEY should repent of THEIR sins. They learned about how ALMA THE YOUNGER and KING NOAH should repent of their sins. We learned to point out and recognize the sins of OTHERS, not ourselves. That's why us Mormons are so good at judging. "Um, did you hear what happened in Sunday School. Sister Jones walked past me and she REAKS of cigarette smoke. So disgusting. She should go to the Bishop and tell him that she's smoking." or "The Larsen boy is in trouble again...probably on drugs. You know, if they would just make their kids come to Church, maybe they wouldn't be in trouble so much. And you just know they don't have family home evening on Monday. That TV is on in their home 24/7, even on 'The Sabbath'."

    Please don't even try to tell me you can't see that happening in your own ward next Sunday...I know, I've been guilty myself.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to re-write your comment. I have had that happen to me before (several times) and I know how frustrating it can be.

    You are spot on. The "love the sinner hate the sin" is a modern interpretation of a modern sentiment. And it is false and wrong. I think it actually does a disservice to the gospel as taught by Christ.

    The teaching in the church is in a sad state. Teaching sunday school was my favorite calling of any that I ever had. I dread sitting through other classes because there is no teaching. I completely agree.

  3. "The only people Christ chastised were the religious people who were chastising others."

    Here, here! I love that. Just FYI :)