LOVING THE SINNER – HATING THE SIN
BY: FRED PRUITT
MAY 12, 2004
I belong to a small women’s group (four of us), women from my church. We meet every couple of weeks and have been going through a devotional book tied to 1 Peter.
Somehow the passage at hand, got me to speak about how the Holy Spirit is always working in all, to convict of sin. I mentioned a politician in British Columbia, who happens to be openly gay, and who was caught on video-tape stealing some jewelry from an auction house. A TV clip was shown whereby the man was crying and remorseful, and he happened to be consoled at the same time, on TV, with his partner. Anyway, my first thought then was, that’s God in that; the Holy Spirit, who convicts the world of sin. I felt for the guy because, like him, I too, had been ‘caught’ in my sins and trespasses and was remorseful and through the Lord’s doing, by faith, I was saved (except my confession wasn’t televised, thank goodness). I know that the consciences of people is God-given and an internal shadow of the True teacher, who convicts of sin. Witness guilt. That comes from knowing that one has transgressed, when not regenerated.
The talk at the table was that the politician only was remorseful because he was caught. And some talk was said about the fact of his being openly gay. And then, of course, the oft-said quote that “we’re to love the sinner, but hate the sin” came out as the pat answer. And I know that that is patently untrue and a lie.
If we are all in God and move and have our being in God, that means EVERYONE [sinners (who are trapped in prison) and ‘believers’ (who have been set free). When I see people fall into sin or commit acts, how can I possibly separate them from what they do? I was in the same spot, once, dead in my sins and obeying my former master, through deception. If I approach someone by loving them, but hating their sin at the same time, I am being double-minded, eating from the tree of good and evil and not seeing through that person, Christ in them, to God. I am not separate from the people I deal with on a daily basis. We are all one in God. And the kingdom of God goes where I go, because the King lives in me.
Did Jesus tell people, he’d love them, but first get rid of your lying, cheating, immorality? No, His love covered over their sins and saw Himself in them. And why? Because man is created in the image of God and who was the invisible made visible, Jesus.
Did Jesus love me, when I was ‘in sin’? Yes. Does he love sinners the same way He loves me now? Yes. There is no favoritism. We all were prodigal sons and daughters, who came back to our heavenly Father and who welcomed us with open, loving hands.
When the Lord sends someone across my path, does he warn me first; hate their sin, but love them? You cannot have love and hate in oneself at the same time. Impossible.
This is a classic case of seeing ‘double’ as opposed to seeing God through the person, seeing with the single eye of faith.
I pray that someday, my small group will ‘see’ things differently.
BY: FRED PRUITT
The term, “love the sinner but hate the sin” has never set well with me. I know the intent, but somehow I’ve never made peace with the expression. It seems to me, to be union-terminology – trite, a “separated” expression. Somehow we have to love a whole person in all they are and do, whether tainted with what we think is “sin” or not.
I know, at least I figure, that there are some who can barely hang in there with me on my recent exchanges about the homosexual issue because there is no sentence where I condemn homosexuality right out and call it wrong or an abomination or whatever it is they want to hear. I don’t call it “right,” but neither do I call it “wrong,” and I’m sure there are some who find that a deficiency in my presentation. Sounds like fence-sitting.
Partly what might cause that – could be a difference in calling. I recognize that. John the Baptist was “called” to point out the specific sin of Herod and his wife, for which he was eventually beheaded in prison. Likewise many of the ancient Jewish prophets were called to testify against specific sins of the people or the leaders.
But Jesus, for the most part, didn’t come preaching against specific sins of men, except for the pride and judgment of the “scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites” He railed against several times. In fact, often people would come up to Jesus and try to get Him to condemn certain people or acts, trying to “tempt him in his speech,” so that they could prove he was not the Son of God because of either inconsistencies in his “doctrine” (he was known as FRIEND of sinners) and if they could get him to condemn His sinner friends he would seem a hypocrite for hanging out with them and for not rebuking them all day long for their many sins and immoralities. Or, if that didn’t work, they were looking for Him to not uphold the law by somehow getting him to condone sin, so that if they couldn’t prove Him untrue by the inconsistencies of his so-called “compassion,” He could surely be proved an enemy of God because He would not uphold God’s laws. But Jesus would not be drawn into their game.
A bunch of angry self-righteous men dragged a maybe half-naked provocative woman, (who probably threatened all of them with her sensuality because they probably all wanted her), who had been caught in the act, the very act, of adultery. That means they broke in on her when she and her lover were “doing it.” Not a very noble enterprise. And they dragged that woman out of bed, pulling her out of coitus itself maybe, with violence and malice, probably shielding their eyes so they wouldn’t be tainted and stirred by the sight of her wet sex and thus incite their own lust, and dragged her, no doubt kicking and screaming, to the Master for his pronouncement of judgment.
They dragged her into Jesus’ midst and threw her down in front of Him and said, “Master, here we have a woman caught in the act, the very act, of adultery! What about THAT? What are you going to do about THAT? She was committing adultery, do you hear? The law says we have to stone her, but what do You say?”
But Jesus didn’t see the sin, at least in the same way you and I do, in our normal human thinking. Certainly he knew whatever “transgression” had taken place. But there was no acknowledgement of that, no questioning her to see whether what these men were saying was true. No shadow even of condemnation for her. No hint of disapproval, no disappointment, no projection of “shame on you,” only but a simple sentence to all those standing around in seething hatred with rocks in their hands standing at the ready to brutalize and murder this transgressor, “Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone.”
It is not insignificant that there was One standing among them, in whom there was no sin, and He didn’t pick up a stone. And as the men left one by one, so that finally there was no one left save she and the Lamb, He asked, “Where are your accusers?” and she replied, “No one has condemned me, Lord,” and He said, “Neither do I condemn thee, go thou and sin no more.”
Let’s say you have someone in your life who maybe is disgusting to you in their behaviors, habits, or belief. When you love someone your focus is not on a “that thing” that they are doing. When our focus in on “that” (the behaviors and beliefs we find questionable or even “wrong” in other people) and not on loving them where they are as they are, there can be no acceptance there. We have a wall between us, as perceptible as glass even though glass projects the illusion of clarity and free flow and looks like no barrier. You might be tempted to think it is a wall put up there by THEIR sins, but no walls can withstand you, when you are seeing in clarity and purity the Real Person within whatever distortion is coloring them at the moment. Only by your seeing the Truth of Who they are, can they hope to come to it themselves! Your approval of them with all your heart and mind and soul even if someone is wallowing in pig-mire can one day be the remembrance of loving kindness and grace in them of God toward themselves.
But when we are focused on their “that,” their so-called heinous sin no matter what it is, then I think it has to color all our dealings with such a one. When we hold between that person and ourselves a “that sin” (a behavior or habit or even a belief or “doctrine”) and we are in some degree always shadowed by the “that sin” which stands between us and them, and we cannot lose ourselves in that person because we have a “that sin” for which we are standing to get rid of. In other words, “I will show you my complete love and acceptance when you get rid of THAT!”
I was trying to think of instances where Jesus condemned anyone for their sins. Or named particular sins not to do. The only instances I can think of are his diatribes against the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites, for their judgmental viewpoint. I can think of no instance where Jesus condemned anybody else for anything. Of course, the sin-botherers can never rest since they always have to stand for “sin” and always make sure everybody knows they stand for “calling sin, sin” and they have their reward in that.
If “sinners” don’t find “friends” among the “saints,” (and friends are people who love you right where you are as you are without condemnation or disapproval), then they probably won’t come around much because the stink of disapproval must be so strong when they come that it would seem to me to be an impassable gulf as long as a “that thing” is in the way. Love loves unequivocally without discrimination and it is pure, seeing all that it loves as pure. It is the burden and job of the Sons of God to remove the barriers, to level walls with non-condemning love.
When it says in 1 Cor 13 that “love rejoiceth not at iniquity,” he’s not meaning “taking a stand against sin” in the normally traditionally thought-of sense, like being against a whole bunch of fleshly deeds; but the iniquity is found primarily in judgment which comes out of pride. Love lifts up. If a woman beset with sins came into a room where Jesus was sitting, Jesus would say, “Woman, thy sins are forgiven thee.” People in the room might get angry, because that “wicked one” hasn’t yet dealt her “that,” and they all know it, but He said to the thief on the Cross, who had never dealt with his “that,” “This Day shalt thou be with me in Paradise” and how much more does He say that all day long to all His Lost Sheep in all their “thats” in all times in all places in the earth? (Thank God He doesn’t hold my “that” against me. “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord will not impute iniquity.”)
I see no “that.” Only Christ in all – as themselves. Neither does the Lord. He only sees Himself in each, whether sinner or saint, and all have the opportunity for the same vision, which is “as many as received Him had power to become the sons of God.” And in those who receive Him God’s vision of Himself in His Sons is complete and All in all.
For now I can only see All as included. I exclude no one and say it is so now. The kingdom is now. All are welcome.
Whether some may stubbornly exclude themselves, who continually refuse to go in, this I leave to the Father, because it is beyond me, but I trust absolutely that All is well, and that there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more crying, and the Healing of All Nations will occur, and sorrow will be turned into joy, mourning into gladness, the wine of life will flow, we’ll all shout L’Chaim, and everyone shall have praise OF God.
Even as we praise our own children.
This is only written for those who hear it. Each has his own calling and let him be it and do it.
LOVING THE SINNER – HATING THE SIN, Parts 1-2, [Fred Pruitt] 5-12-04 1