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"Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin!"

Posted on March 11, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Who hasn’t heard that phrase before. We are supposed to love the sinner, but hate sin (i.e. what he/she does or fantasizes about).

At first glance this sounds perfectly right. And yet I’ve come to really dislike that statement and I ask my brothers and sisters to refrain from using such commonplaces, especially when it comes to people with same-sex attractions. And this for the following reasons:

1) You do not convince anybody with commonplaces – as true as they might be.
2) So we love the sinner. To which every gay activist (and every person in general) can and might reply: When was the last time you showed that – through unconditional works of love? It is so easy to give a fire-and-brimstone sermon on sinful “homosexual” acts. How much harder it is to love those people like Christ would! Because if you don’t, such a statement will backfire big time. And you deserved that.
3) Such a phrase is obviously talking about a person with same-sex attractions. We want to tell our church brothers and sisters to let “those people” know that we love them but hate what they are doing. Now thing for a moment how that sounds like for “one of those”. I had been there, so I have an idea about that. Throughout my whole “gay” time (which was many, many years!) I had the feeling that this is not only how I am, but most of all who I am. This is my identity – much like it would be my identity to be a white person from Europe. For “people like us” who are still involved in that life or in that world (whether or not we act out) this is not simply about “behaviors” or “fantasies” – this is an identity question. He or she thinks that they cannot do anything about it anyways (and just throwing facts at them wouldn’t help either, because they are bombarded with different facts all the time and rather confused anyway). As a consequence, these persons might feel rejected for who they are (like you might reject a person because of his or her color of skin) – if you mean to say that or not (for the record: this is not how I think, but how many “of us” think). Usually, it is not the first time they heard things like that, so to cope with their anger, hurt and frustration they might react very aggressively. They might see you as hypocrite, retarded, radical, inhumane – or simply stupid.
4) So we love the sinner and hate the sin. Fine. Sounds like we are talking about somebody else when we are talking about sinners. And in fact this is exactly what we are doing there: We point with the finger on other people and call them sinners that “deserve” to hear the truth. This in fact is hypocrite. If we point with the finger on somebody else, we should remember that all the other fingers are pointing back to us – for good reason. We sometimes tend to forget that we are sinners too. As someone once said: A church is not a hotel for saints, but a hospital for sinners. And even if you find a “perfect” church, you ruin it the very moment you walk through its doors. I remember when I joined a “Bible church” a couple of months after I left the gay life and enrolled in H.A.’s online program. The brothers and sisters there were really nice, but man was there a difference between us. I walked in on a Wednesday evening to join there Bible study – dressed in army pants & boots and a black leather jacket. And there were sitting all those nicely dressed Christians. I felt like someone from Mars (which was not their fault, but still). They knew nothing about me, but as luck wanted to have it they dealt with a Bible verse speaking on sexual immorality. One of them mentioned that actually there was nothing for them to talk about as they didn’t have that problem. On the inside I thought well, now you do (as it later turned out, they had it as well). Sometime after that – I was already a member – a dear friend of mine held a Bible study before the service. He spoke about sinning. Sinning with a capital “S” sort of – the real bad stuff. And then he turned to me and said something like “Well, Robert, what do you say to that?”. As if I was the only sinner in the house (he might not have meant it that way, but it sure sounded like that. For a very long time I felt like the black sheep of the family there – as loving as they were.
So instead of confronting people with same-sex attractions with commonplaces and Bible verses (as true as they are, but the letter can kill if you don’t apply him with love – think of how Jesus saved the prostitute who was about to be stoned – He saved her before she could even say beep!), we might show them what Christian love, what Christianity in general is all about – through our actions. They should see Christ through us! That does not mean they should not be confronted with the truth as well, but they first need to be “fed” (that is taken care of with love), before they even trust us enough to want to know more about what motivates us. Just standing with a sign at the sidewalk when a gay parade passes by, does not to anything good for anyone. It might even make you look weird (to say the least).

To cut a long story short: Yes, sinners (that is we all!) need to hear the truth in and with love. But people that come from “out there” need to see what stuff we are made of first. They want to feel it, experience it before they might think about wanting to have it too. And yes, we all deserve the truth. But the truth in love – else there is no truth. Most of all people with same-sex attractions deserve every and any help possible – from a medical point of view (like therapy), from the Church, from their families and friends and from politics and laws. This is why I support “Voice of the Voiceless”.

Some time ago I served as a volunteer in a local prison. There you cannot throw Bible verses at the inmates. First, you are not supposed to do that unless they want it and second they can smell a mile away what your true motivation is – if you are there to get one point off your Christian “to-do-list” and do something for those poor prisoners by quoting them Bible verses and tell them some commonplaces – or if you are there for THEM. They want to see what you are made of – and then (and ONLY then) they might take some interest in your motivation.

I guess it is not much different with people who live a “gay” life. If we are REALLY made of that stuff, then let’s show it to them! Let’s love them like Christ would.

Rob

Categories: The Church, What to Do


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