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Is it possible to love the sinner but hate the sin?


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When someone says they love the sinner, the feeling is, I am so righteous, I can love you despite you being a sinner. Now if you simply said I try to show love to everyone, well, that is a different position.

Hate the sin.

The only sin you should hate is your OWN.  No one should be judgmental about other peoples sins, only their own.  Exaltation is an individual thing between God and each and every one of us.  You are not responsible for other peoples sins.  So whether you love or hate their sins is irrelevant.  When you imply that you hate the other person's sins, then you are sticking yourself between God and that individual. It is not up to you to judge another person's sins or their exaltation.  The only exaltation you can work on is your own.

It is amazing to me how much more loving and kind I have become as I really starting carrying less what the other person's sins are.  That doesn't mean that one is forced to have toxic people in their lives.  

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54 minutes ago, bluebell said:

Do you agree with this when the sin is child abuse or murder?  Or even something like bullying?  Or embezzling money from a charity or scamming grandma and grandpa out of their life savings?   

Is it never acceptable to be judgmental about other people's sins?

In my line of work honestly and truly the only clients I have struggled with loving are the narcissists who don’t take responsibility for the harm they have done to others.  
I’ve learned that it’s really not that difficult to stay in my own lane when it comes to others’ flaws- perhaps it’s easier now that my kids are grown.  

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1 hour ago, MustardSeed said:

In my line of work honestly and truly the only clients I have struggled with loving are the narcissists who don’t take responsibility for the harm they have done to others.  
I’ve learned that it’s really not that difficult to stay in my own lane when it comes to others’ flaws- perhaps it’s easier now that my kids are grown.  

I can see that. At the same time, when harm is the consequence of someone’s choices, that seems like it would be other people’s lanes as well.

I can understand disagreeing about when it’s our lane or not, but I don’t really understand the idea that other people’s sins are never our lane. 

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2 hours ago, bluebell said:

Do you agree with this when the sin is child abuse or murder?  Or even something like bullying?  Or embezzling money from a charity or scamming grandma and grandpa out of their life savings?   

Is it never acceptable to be judgmental about other people's sins?

I am not saying that criminal activity should not go unpunished. Or that I would allow someone toxic into my life.  I am saying that I don't really worry about what sins a person has.  Or that there are not personal consequences for someone's actions. That is not a condition of whether I can love them or not.  

Now if I was perfect, and had no sins of my own, then maybe I would feel I had the right to go around judging everyone on their sins.  Not there yet, so I don't worry about other peoples sins.  I let justice and consequences deal with those actions.

 

 

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"Toxic" is a "good" word, in the sense that few people, and/or few people in few circumstances, frown upon its use.  "Sin," "sinner," "sinning," et cetera, are "bad" words in that they are not fashionable, their use is frowned upon, et cetera

This isn't quite the same vein, but speaking of "fashionable" words, once, I had someone label me a narcissist simply because I happened to mention, off hand, a couple of my credentials.  I thought, Wow, the bar's set really low for narcissism, isn't it?  (The exchange reminded me of Inigo Montoya's line from The Princess Bride : "You keep using that word.  I don't think it means what you think it means.") 

I told my interlocutor that I doubted that even the most skilled, most confident professional (let alone an anonymous, amateur Internet "shrink") would purport to "diagnose" me on the basis of a single brief, anonymous Internet interaction, and that, while narcissism might be a feature (or, perhaps better said, a component or a symptom) of other pathologies, in itself, it is not a separate DSM-V diagnosis.  (If my anonymous, amateur, Internet "diagnostician" were a professional, s/he would know that.)

I can't escape the feeling that, as many times as "toxic," "narcissist," et cetera, might be apt descriptors, far more often, they simply are handy cudgels which those who wield them use to browbeat those with whom they disagree.

Edited by Kenngo1969
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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

I agree.  And at the same time, that doesn't really solve anything for me. 

Someone could use this reasoning to cut out practicing (that's a stupid term but I don't know how else to say it) lgbtq+ people from their life.  Or conservatives.  Or liberals.  Or feminists.  Or Baptists.  Or Latter-day Saints.  Etc. 

We need boundaries and truly toxic people are harmful and we don't need to be around them.  That's a truth.  But are our definitions of 'toxic' less prone to judgmentalism or self-righteousness than our definitions of 'sin'?

Is it possible to love the toxic person and hate the things that we find toxic about them? 

 

Everything is subjective. We are all drawing mini lines, fences, boundaries in different places. Maybe it’s like in high school where I refused to attend any parties with alcohol with my friends. I still loved my friends but didn’t want to be around illegal drinking. My husband would attend the parties but not drink and drove his friends home. Neither of us approved of the drinking but we still loved our friends. Now, if those friends ridiculed us for our stances, that would have caused a division. The ‘sin’ wasn't the issue. 
 

My ward is toxic for my family so we have gone elsewhere. It’s not toxic for everyone and not much ‘sin’ is involved. I think a toxic relationship brings out the worst in you or causes harm. A subjective term for sure.

 

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9 hours ago, bluebell said:

I think it's also helpful to remember that we have only been given one side of this story.  

And probably not even a full version of that. More like a tail of the elephant to use a overly used analogy/cliche. :P 

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9 hours ago, california boy said:

No one should be judgmental about other peoples sins, only their own.

So you think we should avoid judging the sin of sexual, physical or verbal abuse in others?  The taking advantage by certain bosses of workers who get minimum wages and minimal benefits while their boss gets to be a billionaire?  A police chief who encourages their underlings to make assumptions about possible victims before investigating?  Driving after drinking even after a suspended sentence?  

How are we to improve society if we are not the least judgmental about others’ possible wrongdoing and instead just accept it as their responsibility to change if they feel the need?

added:  I see bluebell had the same sort of question, so no need to respond to this post if you have already clarified in response to hers. 

Edited by Calm
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6 hours ago, california boy said:

I am not saying that criminal activity should not go unpunished. Or that I would allow someone toxic into my life.  I am saying that I don't really worry about what sins a person has.  Or that there are not personal consequences for someone's actions. That is not a condition of whether I can love them or not.  

Now if I was perfect, and had no sins of my own, then maybe I would feel I had the right to go around judging everyone on their sins.  Not there yet, so I don't worry about other peoples sins.  I let justice and consequences deal with those actions.

 

 

What would happen to civil society or even family life if no one bothered to call out anything as wrong, but criminal behaviour?

Racism is not criminal in most cases.  Do you think we should just ignore others’ bigoted comments as not our responsibility?  

Is it really inappropriate in your view to try and help others become better people by pointing out to them when they have gone wrong in our view?

It seems like a free market theory for relationship behaviour. People will learn how to behave not by imposing and enforcing any rules or others appraising in general the ‘value’ of specific relationship behaviours/treatments of others, but just by whether or not others want to associate with them. Unfortunately given the attention and adulation that some of the most obnoxious people get, I don’t see such a theory as feasible.

Edited by Calm
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22 minutes ago, Calm said:

Is it really inappropriate in your view to try and help others become better people by pointing out to them when they have gone wrong in our view?

Well, my sister in life believes it’s her job to do this with her extended family so no one likes to be around her. She has let me know she doesn’t like my daughter in laws clothing choices (has no desire to build a relationship with someone like her) and that our religion is wrong. 
 

I can hate the sin and love the sinner some of the time. Probably not all of the time. Probably depends on the relationship importance and the ‘sin.’  I love my kids even when I don’t like their choices. They don’t approve of mine. Agreeing to disagree is an okay thing. 

So the answer to the original question is ‘sometimes.’
 

 

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2 hours ago, bsjkki said:

Well, my sister in life believes it’s her job to do this with her extended family so no one likes to be around her. She has let me know she doesn’t like my daughter in laws clothing choices (has no desire to build a relationship with someone like her) and that our religion is wrong. 
 

I can hate the sin and love the sinner some of the time. Probably not all of the time. Probably depends on the relationship importance and the ‘sin.’  I love my kids even when I don’t like their choices. They don’t approve of mine. Agreeing to disagree is an okay thing. 

So the answer to the original question is ‘sometimes.’
 

 

I think some teaching and therefore judgment of civil and moral, but non criminal behaviour has to take place, but how it gets done makes a huge difference. I just don’t think we should reject all instruction by ourselves of others as worthwhile because many do it poorly or for the wrong reasons.  And the best way to start to teach is by example. Sometimes that is all that is needed, sometimes more is needed. 

The sledgehammer approaches rarely do much except to make one look a jerk and get one put into the “toxic” category imo.  It is like teaching a kid violence is wrong by beating them. What that really teaches is it is okay to be violent if one is powerful or thinks one is right.   Forcing someone to be nice, accepting, or ‘loving’ misses the point and won’t be changing hearts. 

Edited by Calm
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5 hours ago, bluebell said:

So you're saying that you can love the person regardless of their sins, without needing to condone their sins to do so (if I'm understanding you correctly).

Well almost.  What I am saying is that I don't believe we should be concerned at all about what other peoples sins are.  The only sins we should be concerned with is our own.  There is a difference.  I am not responsible for another person's sins.  It is their issue between them and God.  But like I said, that doesn't mean that there are not legal consequences for criminal activity.  And like I said, it doesn't mean I am forced to have toxic people in my life.  Condoning or not their sins just isn't a concern we should be engaging in.  The only sins I should be concerned about is our own.

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

What would happen to civil society or even family life if no one bothered to call out anything as wrong, but criminal behaviour?

Racism is not criminal in most cases.  Do you think we should just ignore others’ bigoted comments as not our responsibility?  

Is it really inappropriate in your view to try and help others become better people by pointing out to them when they have gone wrong in our view?

It seems like a free market theory for relationship behaviour. People will learn how to behave not by imposing and enforcing any rules or others appraising in general the ‘value’ of specific relationship behaviours/treatments of others, but just by whether or not others want to associate with them. Unfortunately given the attention and adulation that some of the most obnoxious people get, I don’t see such a theory as feasible.

 

I think you are pushing too far in what I am trying to explain.  I am not pushing for a free for all on behavior.  There are laws and there are social expectations that should be taught and lived by example.  Telling someone they are a sinner because they are a bigot I don't think does anything to correct the behavior.  Explaining to them why their comments are hurtful is probably a better way to help the person change behavior.  

It is the judgement thing that I don't believe is our responsibility to be concerned about.

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

I think some teaching and therefore judgment of civil and moral, but non criminal behaviour has to take place, but how it gets done makes a huge difference. I just don’t think we should reject all instruction by ourselves of others as worthwhile because many do it poorly or for the wrong reasons.  And the best way to start to teach is by example. Sometimes that is all that is needed, sometimes more is needed. 

The sledgehammer approaches rarely do much expect to make one look a jerk and get one put into the “toxic” category imo.  It is like teaching a kid violence is wrong by beating them. What that really teaches is it is okay to be violent if one is powerful or thinks one is right.   Forcing someone to be nice, accepting, or ‘loving’ misses the point and won’t be changing hearts. 

I just read this post.  I think we are on the same page and is the difference I am trying to convey.

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6 minutes ago, california boy said:

 

I think you are pushing too far in what I am trying to explain.  I am not pushing for a free for all on behavior.  There are laws and there are social expectations that should be taught and lived by example.  Telling someone they are a sinner because they are a bigot I don't think does anything to correct the behavior.  Explaining to them why their comments are hurtful is probably a better way to help the person change behavior.  

It is the judgement thing that I don't believe is our responsibility to be concerned about.

I get where you’re coming at, but I think this is still reading a little contradictory. I don’t think we should make it some form of excessive imperative to point out every way a person is messing up as we see it. Sounds exhausting and unhealthy IMHO. Plus we may likely be wrong as is the case of say bsjkki’s relative. Or we may become over invested/enmeshed in how a person responds. 
 

at the same time I do think there has to be space for some form of judging. If we’re telling someone their behavior is harmful that means we’re still judging to some degree what they’re doing as a problem or not. Judging is a pretty solid part of my job as I weigh what people are telling me, decide what their problems are, and advice/help them repair. Of course the people are also seeking my help and thus being judged by me is semi-voluntary. Maybe that makes some of the difference.

Either way, I’m not personally happy if I’m not meddling a little…err I mean helping people. ;) I’m also not happy if I don’t have limits to how far I’ll go in doing so. 
 

with luv, 

BD 

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I suppose the word “judgmental” has additional connotations attached to it like “sinner” does and that may be were there is some miscommunication going on (some thinking of the negative connotations more and others assuming judgmental is equivalent to both judging in a non prejudicial way and prejudicial judging, using judgmental as generic judging iow).

google has both:

”of or concerning the use of judgment.…

having or displaying an excessively critical point of view.”

Edited by Calm
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12 hours ago, california boy said:

Well almost.  What I am saying is that I don't believe we should be concerned at all about what other peoples sins are.  The only sins we should be concerned with is our own.  There is a difference.  I am not responsible for another person's sins.  It is their issue between them and God.  But like I said, that doesn't mean that there are not legal consequences for criminal activity.  And like I said, it doesn't mean I am forced to have toxic people in my life.  Condoning or not their sins just isn't a concern we should be engaging in.  The only sins I should be concerned about is our own.

I think BD's post describes my feelings on what you are saying as well.  I don't really understand how we can live in a world where the only time we should ever judge another is if they do something illegal or "toxic" (quotes because there's not a definition for that term). 

It's possible to be hurtful without doing something illegal or toxic, and I'm not sure why those times aren't something we ever should be concerned about.

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13 hours ago, BlueDreams said:

I get where you’re coming at, but I think this is still reading a little contradictory. I don’t think we should make it some form of excessive imperative to point out every way a person is messing up as we see it. Sounds exhausting and unhealthy IMHO. Plus we may likely be wrong as is the case of say bsjkki’s relative. Or we may become over invested/enmeshed in how a person responds. 
 

at the same time I do think there has to be space for some form of judging. If we’re telling someone their behavior is harmful that means we’re still judging to some degree what they’re doing as a problem or not. Judging is a pretty solid part of my job as I weigh what people are telling me, decide what their problems are, and advice/help them repair. Of course the people are also seeking my help and thus being judged by me is semi-voluntary. Maybe that makes some of the difference.

Either way, I’m not personally happy if I’m not meddling a little…err I mean helping people. ;) I’m also not happy if I don’t have limits to how far I’ll go in doing so. 
 

with luv, 

BD 

Yeah I agreee with this.  I just don't think calling them a sinner is helpful

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On 10/20/2022 at 10:04 PM, bluebell said:

It seems like I've been hearing this thought a lot lately: that it's toxic to teach "love the sinner, hate the sin" because it's not actually possible to love someone and also believe that they are doing something sinful.

Today when I heard it again (someone was bringing up her toxic childhood in a podcast and she used this teaching as an example), it made me wonder.  Isn't this what Jesus does for all of us?  He loves us but hates our sins, right?

So now I'm wondering two things.  First, is it impossible to love the sinner but hate the sin and second, if you believe it is, why?  Why is it possible for Jesus to love sinners and hate their sins but not possible for anyone else?

It seems to me that "sinner" and "sin" are concepts meaningful only to the religious, the once religious or the anti-religious. 

I have found that, in those relationships where someone in the relationship feels offended in terms of sin, those who know they are sinning often find it difficult to acknowledge, receive and feel love from others and to return that love. So, they may put up a wall of skepticism toward the other person(s) and assert that "it's not actually possible to love someone and also believe that they are doing something sinful." This is the case of sin as in breaking the commandments or sin in terms of unrighteous criticism, in which case the assertion of professed disciples might be, "it's not actually possible for an unrepentant sinner to love those who believe they are doing something sinful." Whoever puts it forth, it makes it easier for them to avoid cultivating the love within the relationship.

 

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1 hour ago, california boy said:

Yeah I agreee with this.  I just don't think calling them a sinner is helpful

That's fair. I don't know if I've ever used the descriptor "sinner" to describe someone specifically. If I have used it, it's usually in the abstract, like "we're all sinners." But beyond describing abstract mass concepts it seems largely too broad of a term. Like going up and saying, hey you human. Technically accurate but contextually weird.   

 

With luv,

BD

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