Reverent Responses

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin:
Rev. Dr. Jean Orost Responds

[Posted on October 1, 2000]

Dear Jonathan:

I have often heard the quotation, "Love the sinner, hate the sin." The problem I have with it is that I have never heard anyone say it in love. There is usually a strong tone of criticism if not hate in their expression. I have a suggestion to make to you, based on my reading of I Corinthians 13.

Try to find someone you know who is gay or lesbian and invite them out for a cup of coffee. You pay for it and just listen to them and try to get to know them as people. Follow it up with a postcard or phone call to express your appreciation for them.

"Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous: love does not brag and is not arrogant."

If you don't think you know anyone who is a homosexual, call your nearest Metropolitan Community Church and ask to be connected to someone who has recently been widowed from a 40 or 50 or 60 year committed relationship. They will be grieving, often without the support of family or a support group, and will need someone to share with. Try just being with them and listening to their stories and looking at their photo album with pictures of their shared life. Try loving them for a while.

"does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered," vs. 5.

Check the yellow pages for your local gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered youth association. Find out about public meetings. Listen to young people tell about being ridiculed, spat upon, beaten, gang raped, and cast out of their homes. Find someone to love there, but don't be surprised if their resentment and self-protection spills out. Withhold your judgment and love them anyway.

"does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;" vs. 6.

Call your local AIDS clinic and ask them to send you to visit and care for a person dying alone. It doesn't matter whether they are gay or not; they've all suffered the same rejection along with their illness. Spend a couple hours a week reading to them, walking their dog, bringing them little necessities. Listen and learn to love them.

"bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." vs.7.

When you have tried to love this way for a year, you might try going to the prisons to love the murderers and rapists the same way. If you have done all this, perhaps then you will be ready to talk to each of these people about their sin. Maybe, if they know you love them, they will be ready to listen to what you have to say. Maybe what you say will be changed because you have loved first. Perhaps you will write back and let us know what happened.

In Christ's abiding love,

Rev. Dr. Jean Orost