Comments: opinion

If you read the comments to Ms. Blankley's article in the Huffington Post, you'll see some of the many reasons why it is not a very good article. The history of marriage as a human social, legal and spiritual institution, and specifically within "Christian" societies, is very complex. Ms. Blankley mostly gets it wrong.

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Saturday, 19 May 2012 at 2:42pm BST

Can anyone else open the link to Peter Selby's lecture?

Posted by Judith Maltby at Saturday, 19 May 2012 at 2:55pm BST

Reluctant Xtian says that people should just curse more, and dammit, I agree.

Posted by Counterlight at Saturday, 19 May 2012 at 3:37pm BST

Judith

You are right - the link to the audio of Peter Selby's audio does not work; it just finds an empty file. I have emailed the Abbey to ask them to fix it.

The link to the transcript does work, so you can read the lecture.

Posted by Peter Owen at Saturday, 19 May 2012 at 8:27pm BST

Matthew Engelke's article seems to confuse the concept of dying, which is what a "good death" is about, and funerals.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 19 May 2012 at 8:29pm BST

I enjoyed the Reluctant Xtian article, but I wish to add to one of Xtian's points.
"Love the sinner, hate the sin", IMHO, is reserved almost exclusively for gay people. And there's a certain smugness about it.
"Oh, look at me", the statement says "Even though I think what you are doing is sinful, wrong, deplorable, perverse, vile, and evil, I still love you anyway. Ain't I grand?"
The phrase gives the speaker license to sanctimoniousness. It's only one step removed from Jesus' denunciation of the synagogue-goer who is glad that he's not like that fellow over there.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Sunday, 20 May 2012 at 6:55pm BST

"Hate the Sin - Love the Sinner". This argument reminds me of a particular occasion of making my confession some years ago at the venerable church of All Saints, Margaret Street.

After the recital of my sad sins, together with my penitence at displeasing God (sitting side by side with my Confessor), the priest made the amazing remark that:"God takes the rubbish of our sins and re-cycles it - for a good purpose!".

That advice has remained with me in my own life and ministry as a priest.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 12:53am BST

So, the alternative to the smug 'Love the sinner, hate the sin' mantra is to think that 'tax-collecting' is either morally neutral, 'not as bad as people make it out to be' or 'innocent, right, honourable, wholesome and good'?

Perhaps the real issue that Christ highlighted in his parable was the danger in dismissing an approach to God based on genuine contrition, especially when it casts us in a better light to contrast our public piety with the notorious misdeeds of others. We're all guilty of that.

Posted by David Shepherd at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 12:51pm BST

"Genuine contrition" is fine as the admission price to Salvation when you've done something that you really need to feel contrite about (as we all have); for example, bearing false witness against your neighbor.

Failing to conform to an arbitrary Bronze Age purity code that can't stand up to the tests of reality or morality is not an impediment to Grace.

Posted by Counterlight at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 2:34pm BST

'After the recital of my sad sins, together with my penitence at displeasing God (sitting side by side with my Confessor), the priest made the amazing remark that:"God takes the rubbish of our sins and re-cycles it - for a good purpose!".'(Fr Ron)

Thanks a lot Fr Ron - wonderful !

I've just read and will share,

' And even when our individual and collective lives, like the book of Job itself, fail or refuse to resolve all conflicts and tensions, they can be put together in such a way as to end with affirmation of hope, laughter, life and beuaty without thereby denying the existence of chaos and pain.'

(Queer Bible Commentary (SCM) - Job by Ken Stone, p.203.

The trick must be in 'affirmation' without 'denying', I reckon.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 3:01pm BST

I find the thoughts of John Sentamu extraordinary.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 3:02pm BST

"Love the sinner hate the sin" is in itself morally neutral.

When I look at how the Norwegians handle the Brevijk trial and at their prison system, I must say that I am humbled by the extent to which they can divorce their own feelings of dislike in favour of showing genuine Christian love for the sinner.

The whole reparative justice system is based on that concept too.

But too often in our Christian discourse it is turned into its opposite and it really means "I hate what I perceive to be your sin so much that I will do what I can to stop you, even if what you do is not illegal and if you and many others believe it not to be immoral".
Instead of curtailing my own negative emotions to show you genuine love, I will give my own emotional responses primacy over anything else and I will assume the right to regulate your life for you.

Where my loving the sinner places a great burden on me - like the Norwegians putting aside all their understandable human emotional responses in favour of treating the "sinner" with love it is a wonderful concept that requires astonishing amounts of moral courage.

When it becomes nothing more than sitting in my armchair and placing intolerable burdens on others without being the slightest little bit affected either by the sin or by the consequences of imposing my solutions on the "sinner", then it becomes intolerable and unchristian.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 3:21pm BST

I don't think hating the sin but loving the sinner is a problem. The alternatives would seem to be "hate the sin and the sinner," "love the sin and the sinner," or "be indifferent to the sin and love the sinner." Or i suppose being indifferent to both. I believe that I have a moral commitment to hate and oppose genocide, while trying to find a way to love Ratko Mladić, for example. Maybe we could dust off the saying and apply it people other than gay folk in order to redeem it.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 3:34pm BST

"Hate the sin and love the sinner," is a rhetorical cudgel to make the person saying it feel superior.

We are all of a piece, sin and all. We love each other, and God loves us, just as we are now, because of and despite so much. Anything else is not love.

Posted by Counterlight at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 6:03pm BST

Here's an excellent example of "Loving the sinner and Hating the sin" in action:

http://youtu.be/d2n7vSPwhSU

Posted by Counterlight at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 6:08pm BST

Peter suggests that 'love the sinner, hate the sin' is reserved almost exclusively for gay people.

I remember as a young Christian in the early 1970's hearing the phrase used in a whole variety of situations. And as Bill suggests, it originated as a more positive alternative to the sort of 'hate the sin AND the sinner' attitude that can be so prevalent in establishment morality

Of course, one sinner to whom I apply this maxim all the time is myself..

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 9:06pm BST

The feeling might not be mutual, but I like Bill!

Posted by David Shepherd at Monday, 21 May 2012 at 9:25pm BST

The difficulty is that most people are incapable of separating the sin from the sinner. That is a simple fact of human psychology, and hardly helped by the history of the churches' treatment of sinners. It is also not helped by raising false dichotomies of either "love the sinner . . . " or "it's all good."

It is a precious (in the pejorative sense) statement, more worthy of a bumper sticker than a mature Christian. It would be more healthy and restorative just to say "I really hate you because of your sin." Lying is poison, and this particular bit of trite, kitschy pseudo-spirituality is a lie.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 5:27am BST

The problem with "hate the sin; love the sinner" isn't the aphorism itself (which is actually pretty sound moral theology) but the fact that it is virtually always used to assert personal moral superiority.

And Counterlight, with respect, the video link most decidedly does NOT illustrate "hate the sin; love the sinner" but rather "hate the person who is different."

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 6:05am BST

I have a rather large badge (I think the Americans call them "pins").
It says:

Hate the sin
HOMOPHOBIA
Love the sinner

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 8:47am BST

With all due respect, I stand by my video clip, and my comments.

Posted by Counterlight at Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 12:33pm BST

Thank you, MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 5:27am BST. "Precious", in your sense of the word, is precisely what I have in mind.

Counterlight, I couldn't get past the pastor's first :30, never mind the whole clip. He started suggesting a segregation of GLBT people that reminded me of the "leper colony" scenes from the Charlton Heston version of "Ben Hur".

Posted by peterpi -- Peter Gross at Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 7:10pm BST

I'm sorry the clip is rough folks, but this pastor's sermon is not really that exceptional over here. There's dozens just like it every week, and frequently they find their way onto the internet.

This is what most people in this country hear from Christianity about the gay issue , not polite carefully reasoned arguments. Small wonder that growing legions, especially among the young, are voting with their feet and leaving religion entirely.

Posted by Counterlight at Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 10:34pm BST

I cannot accept that such hate speech and encitement is allowed by law. What is the so-called land of the free thinking of ?

Posted by LaurenceR at Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 1:00pm BST

But there is no pretence of loving the sinner in this clip. He is quite upfront about hating the sinners every bit as much as the sin.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 11:10pm BST

Sorry, but I have to strongly disagree that Pastor Schicklegruber's rant has anything to do with the aphorism under consideration. Nor can I agree that this is what "most people" in the States hear from Christianity. This guy has gotten a good amount if exposure particularly because he is so extreme.

I also deny that wholehearted hatred of both sinner and sin would be an improvement. When someone I love does something destructive to themselves or our relationship I'm perfectly capable of hating the behavior while continuing to love them.

Yes, sometimes people have used "Hate the sin, love the sinner" in nasty ways. Yes, it can be "precious." And that's true of just about every other religious phrase, including "God loves you." The objections I'm hearing to the saying seem to have more to do with reactions to hateful people who have used it, and the fact that it has been used as a shield for homophobia, rather with the phrase itself.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 2:28am BST

"I also deny that wholehearted hatred of both sinner and sin would be an improvement."

It would be healthier. Hate exists by pretending to be love, but it *never* is; it is the mephitic twisting of love, and I don't believe that people can "hate" a behavior - how can you have any degree of passion for a behavior? If you feel no passion, it is not hate, if you do, then it is not aimed at "a behavior." You may believe it is, but that is why it is healthier to simply admit to yourself that your hate is aimed at the person, because the idea that you are feeling that passionately about a behavior is a lie to yourself; the worst kind of poison.

The fact that many religious phrases are used in silly ways doesn't validate this one, or any of them. Glib phrases are comfortable substitutions for spiritual reflection, fast-food theology, but here's one I believe in "Hate is hate, and where true hate is, God Himself's not there."

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 9:27am BST

Perhaps, for those cynics who have watched 'The Scarlet and the Black', Gregory Peck's portrayal of Monsignor O'Flaherty was nothing more than the 'love the sinner, hate the sin' myth receiving the Hollywood air-brush treatment.

The reality is that Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty was a real Irish priest and Vatican official, accredited with saving 6,500 Jews and Allied prisoners.

O'Flaherty did help smuggle his Nazi adversary's wife and children out of Italy to safety. He also visited Kappler in prison and out of their discussions, the former Nazi eventually converted and was baptised.

Some myth, eh?

Posted by David Shepherd at Friday, 25 May 2012 at 10:50pm BST

" Hate exists by pretending to be love...I don't believe that people can "hate" a behavior - how can you have any degree of passion for a behavior? If you feel no passion, it is not hate, if you do, then it is not aimed at "a behavior."

You seem to be using your own special definition of the verb "to hate," Mark; I'm stuck with the one found in the dictionary, and it isn't limited to use with persons. You and I aren't in disagreement so much as talking about two completely different things.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 27 May 2012 at 1:24am BST
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