So many times Christians use phrases and justify them by saying “it’s in the Bible” or “scripture says” but a lot of these phrases really aren’t in scripture. The one that I really have a problem with is “hate the sin, love the sinner.”
Nowhere in scripture will you find the idea of “hate the sin, love the sinner” or any variation of it that you might have heard. However, what is in the scripture is this:
If anyone says, I love God, and hates (detests, abominates) his brother [in Christ], he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, Whom he has not seen. And this command (charge, order, injunction) we have from Him: that he who loves God shall love his brother [believer] also. 1 John 4:20-21 AMP
It is impossible to love and hate at the same time. I have found that when I’m busy living my life as a Christ follower I don’t have time to be concerned about what someone else is doing, much less to pass judgment on them.
Love, don’t Condemn
Pointing the finger of judgment at someone and telling them you hate what they’re doing can never be justified by following it up with “but I love ya.” God is not condemnation; He is LOVE. And as Christ followers we are to BE LOVE also, not condemnation. In order for that love to be real and effective, it must reflect life. I find it ironic that some believers feel that God is so powerless that He needs their help to judge or condemn others for their supposed sin.
Hate is to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; to detest. Love is a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, fondness, predilection, warmth. These two words are antonyms and I cannot see how they can be in the same sentence or refer to the same person.
The main problem I have with “hate the sin, love the sinner” is that by saying this about someone, you are defining the person by the supposed “sin” you see and hate. It’s as if all that person is to you is the thing you hate. By defining that person by the thing you hate, by the thing with which you disagree, then hate is all that’s left. There is no room for love. Love and hate cannot abide together, just as light and darkness can’t.
Unconditional love doesn’t mean loving someone while disapproving of what they do. It means giving up the right to disapprove. You can’t love someone but hate what they do or who they are. A person’s actions show who they are. If you choose to love the idea of what you think a person should become, then you don’t love that person. You only love a figment of your imagination.
Passing the Love Test
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV
If love passes this test, then it is truly a God kind of love. Not only is the idea of “hate the sin, love the sinner” not biblical in nature but it also doesn’t square with Paul’s idea of what love actually is.
If a Christian is truly concerned about living by Christ’s example, they would simply love. And let God handle everything else.