Love the Sinner

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“Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I heard this growing up Christian and gay, and on a level never intended, I internalized it.  I embraced the idea that someone could deserve love even in the midst of their sin. With a twist. I tried to love bigoted Christians while hating their homophobia. I tried to look past their (your?) sins to love them as human beings.

But these aren’t sins I can or should ignore. Jesus told his followers that only one without sin could cast the first stone at a woman accused of adultery. But Christians with multiple divorces (which Jesus preached against) throw legislative and terroristic stones at gay people each day. Jesus never said a word about sexuality or gender, but he did speak on love.

Jesus didn’t say “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” The Bible quotes him saying “Love thy neighbor” but the son of God himself didn’t feel the need to add “hate” to what he called the greatest commandment. In Matthew 5:33-34, Jesus rejects the idea his followers should hate even their enemies.  If this is the deity you worship, and the scripture you follow, you need to recognize the command to hate any part of another didn’t come from him.

I am done trying to understand hateful Christians, to love such sinners, to excuse their bigotry by blaming it on their preacher or upbringing. I had the same background or worse. I was raised in a Christian cult with incredibly rigid gender roles and no room for deviation from the norm, where women married men and had babies until they couldn’t. “Lesbian” was synonymous with “feminist”; there were no dirtier words.

If I could come back from that, fight against that, and leave that, then mainline Christians can fight against the hatred in their churches. In fact, the denominations and congregations that have evolved to love as Jesus commanded, like the Episcopal church, did so because their members demanded it. Baptists and Catholics should be held to the same standards. They should demand their faith recognizes my humanity too.

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