Chad Grayson

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

photo by Jordan MacDonald on unsplash

              Yesterday, someone I know hit me with a ‘love the sinner, hate the sin,’ and my initial reaction was like ‘Wow! Fuck you too!’ I didn’t say this, of course. I didn’t react at all. The person meant well, I think, but that is just such a classic microaggression, and it’s not hard to understand why I have such a visceral negative reaction to it.

              I think it’s because it’s describing my basic state of being attracted to someone, or in love, as sin. And really, that’s a pretty hateful opinion.

              I have a problem with the concept of sin and how it’s often applied, anyway. Most Christians (and it’s always Christians, let’s be honest) define sin as anything that is against the bible, but all of them use this term selectively. After all, Jesus himself preached against remarriage after divorce, and many of these people are on their third or fourth marriages (yet gay marriage is a threat to the family).

              If sin is a useful concept at all, we need to define it very carefully. I think the best definition is ‘a deliberate action, or act of neglect, that harms someone else.’ I am aware that this is not the biblical definition. Don’t @ me.

              I think that’s actually a definition that can positively inform our lives. We sin when we do harm on purpose. Many people hurt people without meaning to, and I think it’s not a sin at that point, unless the consequences of your action have been pointed out to you and you persist in the behavior. Making a mistake unknowingly is not a sin.

              Another way we sin is against ourselves, when we violate our own principles and boundaries. This is self-betrayal, and if sin is real, this is sin. It’s one of the more serious sins.

              But truly, I don’t think sin is a fundamentally useful concept to be obsessed with. We should try to avoid doing harm to others, but the word sin carries a weight that does its own harm. People make mistakes. They don’t deserve to burn in hell for it.

              As far as my own religious practices go, I still consider myself a person of faith, but all I have held on to is the actual words of Jesus, as much as they are knowable. Everything else in the bible is just the words of men. And don’t hit me with the ‘divinely inspired word of God’ nonsense. Jesus himself never made that claim, and there were hundreds of books that could have been included in the bible that weren’t. That decision was made by men. The bible was written by men. Sorry to burst your bubble.

              But, back to sin. Most Christians define it for themselves, even though they think they’re following the bible. They aren’t honest with themselves or other people about the fact that they are doing that. They pick and choose what passages they are going to follow. The New Testament specifically forbids charging interest on a loan, but how many Christians speak out against that? How many work in banking, or somehow otherwise benefit from the banking industry?

              So, for me, my basic state of being attracted to someone is not a sin. It wouldn’t be, even if I’d made a choice to be this way. My sexual orientation harms no one. I just want the basic considerations straight people get. Who among us really chooses who we’re attracted to, straight or gay?

              So, ‘Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin’ is really a big ‘Fuck You’ to the people you are asserting your own moral framework over, and that, to me, is a sin if there ever was one. So, don’t tell me you love me, and then assign my orientation to sin, unless you want me to tell you to fuck off in return.  

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