Monday, May 14, 2012

Hating the sin while loving the sinner

Anyone who has followed the debates online or off about gay marriage, or about the attitudes of Christians generally toward homosexuality, has encountered anger from those who deny that it is possible to hate a sin and not simultaneously hate the sinner. One who disapproves of behavior, it seems, must necessarily hate the person who indulges in it. No doubt many of those who feel that way have some basis for their view in past personal experience. But I would guess that they have had other experiences that would tend to contradict the impossibility of separating the person you care for from the act of which you disapprove. Every parent with a healthy attitude toward a child does it often. And each of us has had relatives, friends, and acquaintances — individuals for whom we sincerely care and who we wish well — who habitually do things of which we strongly disapprove. Hating the sin while loving the sinner is a normal part of almost everyone's life whether born of religious conviction or not. And that is true of the attitude of many of us toward our gay relatives, friends, and acquaintances, and even strangers, whether or not there are others in society who are unable to make that distinction.