Reverent Responses

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin:
Rev. Vera I. Bourne Responds

[Posted on October 3, 2000]

Hello Jonathan,

I'd like to answer your comment in reverse order of your statement.

I too pray that God will open my eyes, for just as surely as you do, I overlook the faults in my own life when I focus my attention on what I perceive as faults in another. It is so easy to be complacent when we forget the words of Romans 3: 23, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

The Christians I know all read their Bible daily, as I'm sure you do, for where else would we turn for God's message of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. In my daily life I echo the words of David recorded in Psalm 32: 1, "Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." In Psalm 51: 3 he also states, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me." Whenever we sin we cannot but be aware of that sin for the awareness of sin is sharpened in the lives of those who are dedicated to Christ's service.

Look at the word SIN. The letter "I" occupies the central place. Whenever "I" is in the centre of our lives we SIN. Sin is simply that, putting our wishes, our desires and our plans ahead of God's perfect will in our lives. Sin is being less loving than the loving and forgiving person God designed us to be. Jesus, when dealing with the woman caught in the act of adultery, challenged those who would stone her to death with the words, "If anyone of you is without sin, let that person be the first to throw a stone at her." Because each of his listeners was reminded of the secret sins in their lives, not one person could throw that first stone. Paul deals with the price we humans pay for sin in our lives in Romans 6: 23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Isaiah's prediction of Christ's sacrifice are recorded in Isaiah 53: 12, "For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Jeremiah is also recorded as quoting the following message from God, "For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more."

We all have sinned, no matter what sins we have committed. There are no BIG sins and no SMALL sins in God's sight. There is just sin. And God truly does hate sin. Yet God chooses to use imperfect people, people who have broken the laws given the nation of Israel. Abraham, David and Jacob all had more than one wife, but were men who God used. Rahab was a prostitute whose faith in God was honoured, and no where do we hear that she left her usual means of earning a living. The simple fact is that while ever we have sinned, and that includes all of us, we are in no position to judge the words, behaviour or even motives of another person. Even Jesus declined to judge. We hear his words recorded in John 8: 15, "You judge by human standards, I pass judgement on no one." In John 12 :47 we also hear his words, "I did not come to judge the world but to save it." On Calvary's cross as he uttered the words "It is finished," once and for all time the full payment for sin was finalised. I would not dare to place myself in a position Jesus avoided, that of judging others, and I know that you would not usurp God's role of judge.

So often we in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community hear the phrase, "Love the sinner but hate the sin." This phrase defines how God sees each person, loving and accepting us irrespective of all the sins we have committed. It is usually spoken by self-righteous persons who gloss over their sins of pharisaism and pride while seeing themselves as fit to judge others. All who know themselves as sinners and have experienced the righteousness of God, choose to serve as Jesus commanded by spreading the Gospel of love, offering practical assistance to any in need. One only need look at the number of New Testament verses devoted to condemning the sins of gossip, backbiting, disbelief, lies, discord, legalism and impeding the spiritual growth of others to discover Jesus' teaching about the damage sin causes in our lives. On the topic of homosexuality he spoke not one word or phrase of condemnation or rebuke.

Thank you for your prayerful concern about sin; it truly is something we each need God to expose in our lives so that we may ask for forgiveness, and strength to overcome our sin. Whatever the sin, the price Jesus paid involved his death. Praise God we are valued to this extent.