Hating the Sinner?

Our modern cliche holds that Christians should “love the sinner, but hate the sin”. A homosexual columnist for SMU’s student newspaper once referred to that as “the most condescending phrase in the English language” and I think he’s right. It’s condescending and conjures up images of parents explaining to their wayward children “I’m not ashamed of _you_, but of what you did.”

It’s also unbiblical, at least in the way it’s usually used. There is a sense in which we love the sinner and hate the sin. But there is _also_ a sense in which we are to _hate_ the sinner _because of_ his sins. Just like God does.

The modern notions of how we evangelize the world goes something like this: Be really super nice to them. Have a bubbly personality. And when you pray or sing, look like you really mean it. But above all, be nice.

There is no room in today’s Christianity for using the language of us vs. them, or of warfare. Those things are so terribly confrontational and divisive. I mean, we’re _salt_ which means (even though Jesus didn’t say it, we just _know_ that’s what He meant) that we’re supposed to get all mixed in, down and dirty, and be really nice and bubbly. Forget that idea of light and darkness not coexisting. That’s so last century. If you treat people as children of Satan, how could you ever hope to earn the right to tell them your story? If you cook enough brownies for the neighbors, and are just nice enough to homosexual drug addicts, or pass out enough hot chocolate to prostitutes, well, you’ll be sure to win _somebody_ to Christ.

But what does the Bible say? Are we supposed to love sinners or hate them? And how have godly men of years gone by understood it?

Psalm 139:21-22 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.

Matthew Henry: Sin is hated, and sinners lamented, by all who fear the Lord. Yet while we shun them we should pray for them; with God their conversion and salvation are possible.

John Gill: Wicked men are haters of God; of his word, both law and Gospel; of his ordinances, ways, and worship; of his people, cause, and interest; and therefore good men hate them: not as men, as the creatures of God, and as their fellow creatures, whom they are taught by the Gospel to love, to do good unto, and pray for; but as haters of God, and because they are so; not their persons, but their works

Charles Spurgeon: As we delight to have the holy God always near us, so would we eagerly desire to have wicked men removed as far as possible from us. We tremble in the society of the ungodly lest their doom should fall upon them suddenly, and we should see them lie dead at our feet. We do not wish to have our place of intercourse turned into gallows of execution, therefore let the condemned be removed out of our company. … To love all men with benevolence is our duty; but to love any wicked man with complacency would be a crime. To hate a man for his own sake, or for any evil done to us, would be wrong; but to hate a man because he is the foe of all goodness and the enemy of all righteousness, is nothing more nor less than an obligation. The more we love God the more indignant shall we grow with those who refuse him their affection. … We pull up the drawbridge and man the walls when a man of Belial goes by our castle. His character is a casus belli; we cannot do otherwise than contend with those who contend with God.

Psalm 15:1, 4 [W]ho shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? … [He] in whose eyes a vile person is contemned

John Gill: as they are an abomination to God, they should be despised by his people

Matthew Henry: Wicked people are vile people, worthless and good for nothing (so the word signifies), as dross, as chaff, and as salt that has lost its savour. … For this wise and good men contemn them … in their judgment of them, agreeing with the word of God. … God despises them, and they are of his mind.

Should we love sinners? Absolutely. We should love them as creatures made in the image of God. We should treat them benevolently, and “while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10). If a person is in need, and I can help him, I should do so without any regard for his spiritual condition. I should care for a wanton homosexual pedophile dying of AIDS, as one made in the image of God. If my neighbors are in need, it hardly matters whether they are married.

And I should also pray and work for their conversion. This is our duty as Christians, to spread the gospel according to however God has gifted me. We are not all called to be evangelists in the formal sense, but we are all called to at least live our lives in such a way that people will see our good works and glorify God. We have a duty to God and a duty to men to spread the gospel. We cannot be said to love our neighbor as ourself if we do not preach the gospel to them.

Should we hate sinners? Yes. We should hate them as sinners. We should not feel malice towards them, as in wanting bad things to happen to them. But we should agree with _God’s_ judgment of them, and despise them. We should shun them, and avoid all unnecessary involvement with them. We should oppose them because they serve Satan. We should work against them as they work to advance Satan’s evil plans and his kingdom.

There was a post on worldmagblog a while back regarding the “Rally for Marriage” or whatever it was. The gist of the post was that instead of rallying, we should be out hugging homosexuals and being really nice, just like Jesus was so nice to prostitutes. We should show them how much we love them, instead of how much we oppose them.

But this approach is not consistent with Christ’s ministry. He was not hateful to anyone, but He was not about the business of just being really nice. Yes, He dined with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. But He always approached them with the message of repentance and reconciliation. To my knowledge, Jesus never “accepted” anyone who did not accept Him. He drove them away through hard teaching and cryptic parables. He was all about separating wheat from chaff, not being nice to chaff in the hopes that it would see how much better it would be to turn into wheat. (Judas is an exception since Jesus kept him around, but I think he is a special case.)

Christ even gave explicit directions to His disciples when He sent them as missionaries in Israel. If they were not accepted in a town, they were to shake the dust from their feet _as a judgment against the town_, and move on. This was not a matter of the best use of resources; shaking the dust from their feet was a testimony against the town. It would result in judgment. They weren’t called to stay and build bridges and engage cultures or be really nice. Preach the gospel, and respond based on how the people responded.

And “love the sinner, hate the sin” is not how God does or will deal with people. John 3:36 says “he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (emphasis added). God’s wrath abides on the _sinner_, because of his sins. God hates the sinner because of his sinfulness. He does not merely hate the sins. He hates the sinner’s sinfulness. There is nothing loving about wrath abiding on someone.

And you know, Christians instinctively do this. We have no desire to be around malicious, evil people. None of us would be friends with rapists or robbers. We instinctively know there is something more vile about homosexuality than about fornication, and we react differently to those sins. But what happens is that we sometimes lose our perspective of how awful various sins are. We treat them as less vile than they are. We don’t think homosexuality, greed, adultery, etc., are nearly as sinful as theft or even drug abuse. We would not befriend a serial shoplifter. But a Sodomite, now that’s a different story. An unfaithful spouse is not, in our mind, nearly as bad as someone who sells cocaine. I mean, a sin is a sin is a sin – as long as we’re talking about certain sins. Robbery, though, is just a really bad sin. Much worse than sexual perversion. Or at least, that’s what you’d think based on how Christians treat it.

This unbiblical perspective on the awfulness of sin (and probably a corresponding unbiblical perspective on the holiness of God) also explains the church’s schizophrenic and hypocritical reaction to various sins. It is why we think it is good to befriend a homosexual, but rally against gay marriage. It’s why we would welcome a homosexual into our homes, but not an unrepentant embezzler. It’s why we’ll watch some movies and TV shows and read some books that depict certain sins, but not others. It’s why we think Will and Grace is somehow much worse than Friends. And why we’ll be friends with Will, but not watch a TV show about him.

If we had a consistent, Biblical, clear view of sin – if we treated sins as the affronts to God that they are – then I think we would naturally react consistently and approriately to sinners. We would hate them _as sinners_ with a perfect hatred, and be consistent. And we would love them with a perfect love, _as people_.

This is not about holy huddles, although our huddles should be holy. It’s not about monasticism or trying to escape the world. That is impractical and undesirable. It’s about _separation_, not _withdrawal_. It’s a Biblical mandate to a holy hatred of sinners as sinners, not a malicious and self righteous denigration of sinners as people. Holiness, not self righteousness. Agreeing with God’s judgment of them, not making our own judgments.

Now whatever you might think of me, you still have to deal with the scriptures I quoted and alluded to. And you also have to deal with the men I quoted. You can’t just de-link and ignore Matthew Henry, John Gill, or Charles Spurgeon. I might be an unspiritual backslidden Pharisaical hypocrite, but I doubt those men are. Your theology must make room for some type of hating and despising the unregenerate. And it must take into account the historical Christian understanding of the relationship between the children of God and the children of Satan. Saints and sinners are _enemies_ in many important senses, and it is no less than treason to treat the enemy as a friend.

Update: Perhaps it would be better to say we should hate the _character_ or _sinfulness_ of sinners. This is far more than merely “what they do”, but is very different than hating them as persons.

An analogy might be helpful. In a war, it would be evil to hate the enemy as individuals, somehow taking perverse pleasure in killing the enemy. But surely dropping bombs and shooting must be understood as some variation of hatred. You’re not blinking back tears with each trigger pull and weeping over every bad guy you kill. You hate and kill them _because they are evil_ and are fighting for an evil cause.

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33 Responses to Hating the Sinner?

  1. Karl Thienes says:

    “It?s not about monasticism or trying to escape the world.”

    Just a quick corrective–monasticism is not “escapist”, nor is it a “holy huddle.”

    An even cursory study of the history of the monastic life in the Orthodox Church shows God chooses some to the monastic life, precisely to separate them to pray for others. Monks, in their ceaseless prayer, are more intimately connected with others than we are.

  2. You’re right, Karl. I don’t mean any insult to monks.

  3. Michael, my comments do support HTML. You forgot the closing > in your tag.

    We can only separate the sin and the sinner to a limited extent. God makes no distinction between “who you are” and “what you do” like we try to. We should love and dignify unregenerate sinners as fellow men and bearers of God’s image. But hey, we should also love and dignify condemned murderers for the same reason. God doesn’t punish sins; He punishes sinners for their sins.

    I’ll go further than you. You said “Most of us have gay friends.” I believe it would be entirely inappropriate for a Christian to have a gay friend. If we take Romans 1-2 at face value, homosexual perverts are reprobate idolaters and enemies of God. What sort of friends can we be to them? We are _enemies_. Light and darkness cannot coexist.

    Now of course we will likely have homosexual acquiantances, co-workers, relatives, neighbors, etc. And we should be friendly and cordial to them. But that is a far cry from being their friends.

  4. Darren says:

    This seems to me to be splitting hairs. What you describe as the proper distinction between the sin and the sinner is what I mean by “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” To love a sinner is not to excuse his actions or his sinful nature, or to gloss over the fact that he stands under the judgment of God. This distinction is the very purpose of the phrase, “Love the sinner but hate the sin.”

    Should we shun sinners and disassociate ourselves from them? There are specific mandates put in place by the New Testament that calls for discipline and judgment within the Church. But outside the Church, we have no excuse to “hate the sinner;” our call is only to proclaim the Gospel. Shunning unsaved sinners is the best way to avoid fulfilling the Great Commission.

  5. Darren, I’m not splitting hairs. If “hate the sinner” sounds like “love the sinner, hate the sin” then it’s because I didn’t do a good enough job explaining my position strongly enough. David writes of holding sinners in contempt, and of hating them as personal enemies.

    Should we shun sinners and disassociate ourselves from them?

    Matthew Henry said “while we shun them…”. Charles Spurgeon we should “eagerly desire to have wicked men removed as far as possible from us” and that we should “pull up the drawbridge and man the walls when a man of Belial goes by our castle”.

    But outside the Church, we have no excuse to ?hate the sinner;?

    Are you suggesting that the passages from Psalms I referenced have no bearing on the church today?

    Shunning unsaved sinners is the best way to avoid fulfilling the Great Commission.

    Were Matthew Henry and Charles Spurgeon just idiots then? How do you understand those Psalms?

    Or could it be that your idea of evangelism is incorrect?

  6. 1. Thanks Robert, you’re right I failed to make the distintion between “friends” and “acquaintences” and I did mean the latter in my post.

    2. God makes no distinction between ?who you are? and ?what you do? like we try to.
    That’s the whole point, who we are is what we do, amazing how we have diluted that.

    3. Closing tags…got it.

  7. Darren says:

    Robert, thanks for the reply.

    I can’t comment on Spurgeon and Henry without having read more of them than those quotations. I can say that I appreciate Barth’s approach to the matter, which is this: “There is no called man who was not once uncalled; there is no hearer of the proclamation for whom it was not once strange and unknown; and there is no believer who was not once an unbeliver. … There is none, indeed, who has not continually shown traces of his original uncalled condition, who has not been only too like the godless in specific respects, who has not denied his election.”

    “… But if this is the case, then in this respect, too, the elect will know and confess themselves to be in solidarity with the godless. The cross of Jesus Christ stands between them, and it is the only hope of both.”

    Are you saying Karl Barth is an idiot? Don’t answer that — it’s rhetorical. The point is that it’s not a helpful question, for the history of the Christian faith has not had a unified view on this issue.

    I’m uncomfortable with such a literal application of the Psalms, just as I would be uncomfortable with a literal application of Psalm 137:8-9 (see esp. NASB) for the Christian life.

    I agree with much of your post, though, which makes me think we aren’t really far apart on this issue. Yes, the sinner is responsible for his or her sin, and stands under the judgment of God. But I still find the distinction in “Love the sinner, hate the sin” a helpful, if cliched, principle.

    Grace and peace to you!

  8. PenguinBoy says:

    Robert:

    It seems to me that you need to invest some time in reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.

    The Christ never advocated shunning the sinner. He was more than happy to embrace them and love them. This is evidenced in his dining with St. Matthew.

    And remember, Robert, we are all sinners. Each and everyone of us. We sin daily, my friend. But God loves us anyway! He loves us in spite of our sin.

    Your problem exists in the fact that you see some sin being far worse than other sin. You see a homosexual or a pregnant young girl with no husband as being a far greater sinner than say a gossip. You see that the homosexual or the unwed mother as someone to be shunned for their obvious sins, but you do not even contemplate shunning the gossip for the sin they commit.

    Sin is sin in the eyes of God, my friend. There are no big sins and little sins. But there is forgiveness, restoration, and freedom contained in Abba’s grace. And His grace liberates me to bring healing and love into the world. It allows me to befriend the homosexual and show him the love of the Christ. It permits me to be supportive to the unwed mother and through my loving actions point her to the Christ.

    I am thankful for the grace of God!!! I am thankful that He loves me and you, Robert, with a passionate, all-consuming love!!! Lets share the love of the Christ with all of those around us!

  9. Darren, I figure my comments at your site have probably answered your comments here, too. So don’t think I’m ignoring you. :-)

  10. Hey, PenguinBoy. Thanks for your comments and attitude.

    First thing I’d like to point out is that generally sinners came to Christ. The folks around Jesus as He dined with Matthew were invited by Matthew to meet Jesus. This is the general pattern in the New Testament.

    Jesus certainly did mingle with sinners, but He did so as a doctor among patients. Just like we should.

    we are all sinners. Each and everyone of us. We sin daily, my friend.

    There is a fundamental difference between a sinning believer and an unrepentant unbeliever. We are not “all sinners” in that sense. The problem is not with what you do, but with who you are.

    you see some sin being far worse … You see a homosexual or a pregnant young girl with no husband as being a far greater sinner than say a gossip

    How do you presume to know this about me?

    Perhaps you missed the paragraphs where I wrote We don?t think homosexuality, greed, adultery, etc., are nearly as sinful as theft or even drug abuse. or criticized the church?s schizophrenic and hypocritical reaction to various sins.

    I am not so concerned with sins as with sinners’ character or sinfulness, and there is a huge difference. An unregenerate unbeliever who is a gossip is different than an unregenerate unbeliever who is a murderer, but the fact that they are both unregenerate unbelievers should eclipse the difference between the manifestations of their wickedness.

    Lets share the love of the Christ with all of those around us!

    The love of Christ is meaningless without the law and justice of almighty God. Christ’s sacrifice was worthless unless it’s seen in the context of condemnation, wrath, and judgment. John 3:18 “whosoever does not believe is condemned already”.

  11. Ellen says:

    Define “love”…love is patient, kind, does not envy, is not proud, is not rude, self-seeking…and the rest…

    the only part of this definition of “love” that we cannot apply to those in sin is keeping a record of wrongs.

    Do we “get” to lay aside our own Godly qualities when dealing with sinners? Or should we at least attempt to treat them with the qualities that the Bible defines as loving, while firmly and without wavering, presenting them with the truth, along with the consequences?

  12. Well, we should lay aside any record of wrongs they do to us.

    Of course we should be patient and gentle (2 Timothy 2:25). We should be humble (1 Peter 3:15). We should be benevolent (Galatians 6:10).

    That does not preclude separation from the unsaved (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), arguing with them and rebuking them (Acts 7:51-53, Acts 18:28), shaking the dust from our feet (Acts 13:51), rejecting them in frustration (Acts 18:6), and even mentioning them by name (2 Timothy 4:14).

  13. PenguinBoy says:

    Where sins abounds, grace abounds more!

    Jesus’ tenderness is not in any way determined by what we are or do or don’t do. In order to free us for compassion toward others, Jesus calls us to accept His compassion in our own lives, to become gentle, caring, compassionate, and forgiving toward ourselves in our failure and needs. This liberates us to share His most amazing love with those around us…to bring the Christ into the world!

  14. I think we may have a fundamentally different understanding of the gospel. I think of salvation as far more than becoming “gentle, caring, compassionate, and forgiving toward ourselves in our failure and needs”. I think in terms of regeneration, justification, conversion, and so on. How do these terms fit with your understanding of the gospel?

    Is one a sinner because he sins, or does he sin because he is a sinner?

  15. PenguinBoy says:

    We are all born as sinners. And we sin because of our sin nature. So I agree with your latter statement. Where we differ is that you have more of a legalistic approach to the Christian faith and I have a more liberating view of it. I say it is easier to convert a nonbeliver through love and kindness rather than beating them on the head with a legalistic Bible.

  16. Wow, talk about judgmental! Just who do you think you are anyway?

  17. PenguinBoy says:

    I am not judgemental…I just surmised from your posting that you lean toward legalism. Am I wrong?

  18. PenguinBoy says:

    And it would appear to me that you are the judgemental one…you are the one advocating hating sinners!

  19. PenguinBoy, he’s not advocating hitting people on top of the head with a Bible, and he certainly is sustaining the truth that we out to be persuasive and wooing and loving to unbelievers. But it doesn’t stop there.

    If Robert is judgmental for advocating the hate of sinners (in at least the way he *qualifies* it), then David of the Psalms is too. You have to be a responsible Christian, PenguinBoy, who needs not be ashamed, and rightly dividing the word of truth. That’s FAR more important than picking up a copy of “The Ragamuffin Gospel”.

  20. Jared says:

    Can I still point out that I’m not convinced David is “advocating” hating the sinner? I am very uneasy about drawing a prescriptive understanding from a couple lines of poetry. In the same Psalm, just two verses up from the verses Robert cites, David asks the Lord to destroy them. Are we to wish that, as well?

    I would like to find a clear passage of instruction regarding godly hatred, and I just cannot find it in Scripture. I’m not saying there’s not something to a proper hatred, but I think the foundation provided here is not firm enough for such a weighty attitude.

    Maybe others have a fine time hating perfectly, but I personally struggle enough with “loving my enemies and blessing those who persecute me,” “turning the other cheek,” “loving my neighbor as myself,” and loving others as Christ loved me. Indeed, when I look for instruction regarding how to behold despicable sinners, I find 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 especially illuminating.

    Perhaps we prideful and imperfect creatures ought to leave perfect hatred to He who is truly perfect and, by His holiness, deserves the right to hate.
    Just a thought.

  21. David states “I hate sinners” and asks God to show him if there is any wicked way in him. Don’t you think he’d mention it if God rebuked him?

    The descriptive passages of Psalm 139 and Psalm 15 mesh very well with a lot of other passages that teach us to be separated from sinners, to be careful of our company, and so on. It also matches Christ’s instruction for His disciples to shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against those towns which rejected the gospel. It fits with His righteous anger towards the Pharisees and the moneychangers. It mirrors God’s judgment. It follows the contrast between darkness and light. It matches Romans 11:28 “they are enemies for your sake” and Philippians 3:18 “they are enemies of the cross of Christ”.

    Perhaps we prideful and imperfect creatures ought to leave perfect hatred to He who is truly perfect and, by His holiness, deserves the right to hate.

    By the same token, we are utterly unable to love perfectly. Maybe we ought to leave loving to Him alone who is able to love perfectly? Our love is always going to be tainted with selfishness, and will fall too short to deserve the name “love”. That’s just foolishness. You are wiser and more spiritual than the Puritans – who are “missing the obvious” I believe it was? – and now you are more righteous than David?

  22. Michael says:

    “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” 1

    “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” 2

    “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.” 3

    1 Lk 18:9-14
    2 Mt 9:11-13
    3 James 2:19

    Just like the Pharisees, the “whitened sepulchres” Jesus excoriated (5), I spend a lot of my time thinking I’m way more righteous and humble than the ‘sinners’ I’m surrounded by. That’s the kind of people God hates, I think – people who think they are righteous, period. Sure, they might have some Faith, but if it’s not being expressed in Love, the greatest virtue, it’s dead. (6, 7, 8).

    5 Mt 23:27
    6 Gal 5:6
    7 1 Cor 13:13
    8 James 2:25-26

    All quotes from the NIV.

  23. Michael, are you contending that David was guilty of the self-righteous attitude the Pharisees had? Along with Augustine, Charles Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, John Gill…?

    It might be helpful to actually deal with the verses I referenced! You can’t simply disregard them because they don’t fit.

  24. Jared says:

    By the same token, we are utterly unable to love perfectly.

    You’re right. But we have to give that an earnest try because we are instructed many times over to love our enemies and each other. Love is more important than faith and hope. It is how the world will know we follow Jesus.
    By contrast, can you find a clear instruction to hate others? I honestly cannot, and I do not interpret the “separation” passages that way at all. Wouldn’t hate be mentioned if that was the motivating or ideal attribute at work in those instructions?

    I’m going to “deal” with those texts more directly some time this week. Just as a teaser: a) I do not think poetry the ideal place to find instruction on something so weighty (and which seems to have the whole of Scripture to testify against it — the interpretation, not the texts you cited obviously).
    b) I am finding that many of the commentaries you cite and that I have located online tend to “echo” the Psalm rather than explicate it. The commentators, fine scholars all, look to be expounding on the text rather than engaging in exegesis. I hope to consult some more technical approaches after I get more settled. Just got back in town an hour ago after a 14 hour drive!

  25. Orrin says:

    You make some valid points, although you only use two scriptures for your argument. I also find it hard to fathom the way to truly love a person and yet hate them because of their sin. Jesus loved the men (both of them) hanging on the cross next to him, even though one respected him, believed that he was Lord, and the other mocked him. Does God’s love have limits on which sins you commit?

    I read a very interesting book on this topic recently by Philip Yancey. It is called What’s So Amazing About Grace? There is a story in there about a drug adicted who “has” to rent her 2-year old daughter to men for sex so that she can support her drug habit. When asked why she never went to the church for help (because if people follow the advice above she would be an total outcast and never be around a christian, vile woman that she is) she replied “Church?! I already feel terrible, that would only make me feel worse!”

    You know, prostitutes, criminals, lepers all flocked to Jesus. Those who has the MOST sin loved him the most. I believe that if we don’t love people who live (sometimes blatenly) in sin, how will they ever know that we have Jesus for them.. in our words, our actions.. our heart? Jesus doesn’t walk around like he used to.

  26. can you find a clear instruction to hate others

    I’ve cited numerous passages (much more than 2) that give us either example or instruction that I believe falls under the Biblical idea of hating sinners as found in Psalm 139. For instance, Christ’s disciples were instructed to shake the dust from their feet as a testimony against unreceptive towns.

    Wouldn?t hate be mentioned if that was the motivating or ideal attribute at work in those instructions

    I believe hatred is defined as the behaviors I mentioned. I believe Biblical hatred of sinners goes well beyond the feelings of animosity we define as “hate”, just like Biblical love is much different than the ooey-gooey feelings we think of as love. You don’t separate from sinners because you hate (feel animosity towards) them. Your separation is Biblical hatred a la Psalm 139 (cf the other Psalms where David orders the wicked from his presence and speaks of his strained family relationships).

    look to be expounding on the text rather than engaging in exegesis

    For all the world, this sounds like you’re upset because commentators from Augustine to Spurgeon (and I’ve found others, but I’m saving them for another series of posts) simply take the text at face value. David says he hates sinners. Psalm 15 says a godly man despises reprobates. I know it is poetry, and should be read as such, but it still says what it says! Whatever definition you put to “I hate sinners”, it’s still going to be in the same general ballpark as a literal statement “I hate sinners”.

    Just got back in town an hour ago after a 14 hour drive!

    Glad you made it back safe. I hope you missed the storms that have been coming through. 14 hours is a haul. My in-laws are 10 hours away (New Orleans). I especially hate sticking my kids in the car for that long.

    BTW, I hated to hear that Reagan died.

    :-P

  27. you only use two scriptures for your argument.

    I’ve actually mentioned several, although I only quoted two.

    I also find it hard to fathom the way to truly love a person and yet hate them because of their sin.

    Augustine used the example of Moses when Israel made the golden calf. Moses loved Israel, and begged God not to destroy them, and told God to cut him off too if He was going to destroy Israel. Isn’t that love? But Moses also called the Levites to him and killed thousands of the Israelites. Is that love? Or is it hate?

    Jesus loved the men (both of them) hanging on the cross next to him, even though one respected him, believed that he was Lord, and the other mocked him.

    But an instant after death, God’s wrath still abided (abode?) on the one who rejected Him. And God sent him to eternal punishment. Where is the love?

    prostitutes, criminals, lepers all flocked to Jesus.

    Jesus did not accept anyone who did not accept Him. He drove quite a few people away, very intentionally. That’s why He taught in parables, even.

    I believe that if we don?t love people who live (sometimes blatenly) in sin, how will they ever know that we have Jesus for them.

    Can you provide any clear scriptural support that the lost will come to Christ through the way we treat them? All I’m aware of references how we treat each other (as Christians), and our good works and righteous lives (through Christ) in general – which will include compassion to the lost, of course.

    Anyway, I already said that we should be benevolent to all. Read the 13th paragraph (just after the blockquoted commentaries) as well as the commentary by Spurgeon.

  28. Jared says:

    To clarify what I mean by those men echoing the text:
    In most cases they “interpret” David saying he hates people by essentially saying “David says he hates people.” I’m sorry, but that sheds little light on an issue that has to be controversial, and had to be even then.
    But when they do elaborate, I find them saying things like “hating the works, not those that do them” or “not hating the Person.” That sounds an awful lot like “love the sinner, hate the sin” to me.

    I know you’ve cited other Scriptures, but obviously I don’t think the connection is that clear. I’m asking for clear instruction to hate. I don’t think it’s to be found. I believe you are unfairly connecting separation passages to the mentions of hate in Psalms because they fit the conclusion you’d already drawn.
    I also think Jesus’ instruction to shake the dust off about the town would be a hard principle to apply. Jesus was omniscient; we are not. Could it be that that particular town was to be avoided, but we ought not let that specific instance become prescriptive.

    I’d actually agree that there are appropriate times to separate from sinners, to perhaps shun individuals at times, and even to avoid whole places and what-not. I just don’t connect those ideas to hating anyone. It has more to do with personal holiness and liberty, for me, than interpersonal hatred.

    I have more to say on the Psalm texts, including a response of sorts to your question about why David doesn’t mention God rebuking him, but I’ll save it for my own post.
    I still would like to know how you fit in the Davidic calls for the destruction of sinners. How does that fit into your “straightforward” reading, and how does that jibe with your take on not wishing malice on anyone?
    And any further thoughts you have on how to apply the other imprecatory Psalms to real life would be appreciated.

  29. when they do elaborate, I find them saying things like ?hating the works, not those that do them?

    I also see things like “we shun them”, “good men hate them … as haters of God, and because they are so”, “we eagerly desire to have wicked men removed as far as possible from us”, “to hate a man because he is the foe of all goodness and the enemy of all righteousness, is nothing more nor less than an obligation”, “they should be despised by his people”, “wise and good men contemn them”, ” David’s example should teach us to rise with a lofty and bold spirit above all regard to the enmity of the wicked, when the question concerns the honor of God, and rather to renounce all earthly friendships than falsely pander with flattery to the favor of those who do everything to draw down upon themselves the divine displeasure”, ” it is a proof of our having a fervent zeal for God when we have the magnanimity to declare irreconcilable war with the wicked and them who hate God, rather than court their favor at the expense of alienating the divine layout.”

    I believe you are unfairly connecting separation passages to the mentions of hate in Psalms because they fit the conclusion you?d already drawn.

    I think it fits the interpretation of the commentaries I mentioned, too. My understanding of Biblical hatred is much different than “feelings of animosity”. It is manifested, maybe partially defined as, a separation from sinners for the sake of their sinfulness and animosity towards God.

    I still would like to know how you fit in the Davidic calls for the destruction of sinners.

    The lesson I take away is that it is appropriate to desire justice. _Biblical_ love for the unregenerate does not exclude enmity for God’s sake or a desire for justice.

    how to apply the other imprecatory Psalms to real life would be appreciated.

    Surely you are not categorizing Psalm 15 as an imprecatory Psalm?

    I know you would agree (and I think you’ve written before) that Biblical love is not simply a gooey mushy feeling. It’s not gooey or mushy at all. It’s disciplined, strong, powerful, and sacrificial. And it is much _more_ – it’s manifested in self sacrifice and service and many other things. Love doesn’t _produce_ self sacrifice; it _is_ self sacrifice. (“Greater love hath no man than this: to lay down his life for his friends”).

    Similarly, Biblical hatred may not be simply a raging fiery feeling. It may be disciplined, strong, and controlled. It does not _produce_ separation; it (partially) _is_ the separation. It does not _produce_ strained relationships; it _is_ the strained relationships for Christ’s sake.

    Hatred does not cause the contention that Spurgeon describes; it _is_ the contention.

    Karl Thienes drew a (in my mind, bad) comparison between my post and judicial activists who insist that one cannot truly oppose homosexuals without actually hating them. THE OPPOSITION IS THE HATRED, primarily, in my mind. It is directed at the sinfulness and sinful agendas and sinful behaviors and sinful characters of the sinners. Change your character (through being converted), stop the wicked behavior, and there is no more hatred because there is no more opposition.

    Certainly, this would partially include a rightoues indignation and contempt for the wicked. We are not wrong thinking of a public lynching when we see the pictures from Abu Ghraib. Or for the rage we felt on 9/11. Or the contempt we hold Daniel Pearl’s and Nick Berg’s murderers in. The loathing we have for muderers who hide behind women and children, or detonate their suicide bombs inside restaurants. We’re not wrong for some of the more creative punishments we’ve probably both devised for convicted pedophiles and rapists.

    An excessive and improper application of “love the sinner, hate the sin” would tell us that we are wrong. But a Biblical perspective says we aren’t.

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