On the surface, it comes across as saying "I love you in spite of your faults". But, saying you love the sinner but hate the sin puts the emphasis more on the sin rather on than the person committing the sin. It's like saying "I don't hate you - I just hate certain things about you" - can we honestly call that "love"? Or does true, honest, and pure love mean that we try to overlook the faults in a person and focus on the good in them?
The word "hate" is such a strong word in the english language - which might explain why this particular phrase seems to be reserved for only the most egregious of sins; although, it's not applied uniformly. In fact - I dare say, it's applied to the 'sin' of homosexuality far more than any other sin - perhaps even more than all other sins combined.
Let's say, for sake of discussion, that homosexual acts are a sin (a premise certainly not shared by many who read this blog) - but, just for the sake of discussion, is there really any justification in the gospel to hate the act of loving someone of the same gender?
Jeremy gave his response to this phrase in a recent blog post of his by saying:
I would rather have them hate me then mock me with kindness.Reading this gave me pause - I had never thought of it in that way before. By saying "love the sinner but hate the sin" - are we mocking the concept of love? In fact, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, has the Lord given us approval to "hate" anything? In the sermon on the mount, Jesus taught
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matt 5:44)In modern day revelation, the Lord said
I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (D&C 64:9)Seems pretty clear that we, as mere mortals, are to focus on love and forgiveness and not so much on the misdeeds of others. In fact, Jesus also taught
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Matt 7:3)and
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone ... (John 8:7)I'm going to have to agree with Jeremy on this. When we say "love the sinner but hate the sin" - we are in effect saying "I love you - but I hate certain things about you." Implicitly, we are also inferring "and I don't want you to do or say anything in my presence that reminds me of that aspect of you."
This is, at best, conditional love; and, at worse it is, as Jeremy suggests, a mockery of love and kindness - neither of which are in harmony with the gospel of Jesus.
So, what should a person do when a friend or loved one is living a life they believe is out of harmony with the Lord? Jesus answered this as well when he said
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise (Luke 6:31)In other words, if you want people to respect your beliefs and lifestyle choices then you need to respect theirs. Seems pretty simple to me.
[sigh] If only more, so called, 'christians' would actually strive to follow the teachings of the God they claim to worship . . .