Responding to "Hate the sin, love the sinner"

by Joe LeBlanc

Aug 01, 2014

Every once in a while, I encounter someone who uses the phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner” (or a similar variant) when talking about an LGBT individual. While it’s disconcerting for me to hear a phrase like this, I’ve learned how to stay calm and believe the best about people. I’m not generally a confrontational person, but I feel it’s important to speak up when I can do so in a way that will be heard.

This week, I encountered a variant of “hate the sin, love the sinner” in a discussion about meeting a drag queen. This is part of the response I offered:

Phrases like “hate the sin, not the sinner” are not appropriate for two reasons. First and foremost, we are all God’s children created in his image, regardless of the status of our relationship with him. If we must use few words to describe the people around us, “sinners” is the last we should reach for.

The other reason “hate the sin, not the sinner” is not appropriate is because it is only used when talking about LGBT individuals. It is never used to describe people who engage in sinful behavior such as gluttony, gossiping, or lying. This is an alienating double standard that has no place in the body of Christ.