Hate The Sin; Love The Sinner

“That person is a sinner,” he told me.

“How do you know?”

“Because of openly admitting to being homosexual.”

“That is a sin?”

“Of course. Just check the Bible. It contains lists of all the sins.”

“And you are positive that that person is sinning.”

“Yes.”

“And so they cannot participate in the church?”

“Of course not. No one who continues to sin can participate in the church.”

So, I asked, “When did you stop sinning?”

“When Jesus forgave all my sins.”

“Therefore you no longer sin? You do nothing of which God would be angry?”

“No, my sins are all forgiven, and I don’t purposely sin.”

And I asked, “How is your spiritual life? How are you practicing the love that God commanded?”

“For you know,” I continued, “as ancient Christian writers have put it, ‘For unless a man first have love and spiritual joy in his affection, he can in no way experience this perfect hatred of sin.’ ”

We must first do our own hard work of spiritual formation working our way through our own sins and other shortcomings and coming into to true joy in the Spirit, we cannot be so bold as to point to others and proclaim to love them while hating the sin. That hatred most likely boils over into the person we accuse of whatever sin. Better that we tread lightly in that path lest we should feel the rebound of our pride.

(A hat tip to the anonymous English author of The Cloud of Unknowing who wrote an essay based on Richard of St. Victor. Look them up. It would be worth your time.)

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