Category Archives: Quick thoughts
The adage “love the sinner but hate the sin” is often used in discussions of Christianity and same-sex relationships, usually in a context where someone is saying “I love you, but I hate your sinful relationship”. This is problematic for two reasons, a secondary reason, and a fundamental reason.
The secondary reason is that it isn’t very loving, or if it is, it is using a definition of love that is so far removed from normal experience it is meaningless. My relationship with my husband is based on strong mutual love. If you are telling me that that love is something that should be hated, then that tells me your definition of love is nothing like my own.
You might say that you love your dog, even though it keeps you up all night with its barking. That might even be true. But when you say you ‘love’ me but you ‘hate’ my loving relationship, then you are saying that you love me despite the fact that I also love. That simply doesn’t make any sense. How is it that the love you express is Godly, but the love I express is sinful? The only way that you can do that is if you say the love I express is opposite to the love you express. The love my husband and I share is beautiful and enriching. The opposite of that sort of love is hate. If you ‘love’ me but ‘hate’ my loving relationship, then you are expressing a hateful form of love, which is no love at all.
Of course, that is only a secondary problem with loving the sinner but hating the sin. The fundamental problem for Christians is that Christ told us to do no such thing. He told us to do something quite different, and completely incompatible with loving the sinner but hating the sin.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:3-5, NIV
When you ‘love the sinner but hate the sin’ you are ignoring the plank in your own eye and, instead of hating it, you are (perhaps lovingly) trying to remove the mote from someone else’s eye. Loving the sinner and hating the sin is nothing more than finger pointing of the sort that Christ himself told us to avoid.
Regular readers will have noticed this blog hasn’t been updated for a while. This is because Michael and I have moved to Gibraltar. Faith and Pride hasn’t been forgotten, and normal service will be resumed once we have our lives a little more organised.
I have had a letter on equal marriage published in the Belfast Telegraph. The letter was shortened a bit for publication. The original is below.
With reference to Cynthia Campbell’s letter about same-sex laws (Letters, February 12), I would simply like to say that, as a practising Christian who takes God seriously and so believes the Bible’s teaching and prophesies and guidelines, I have to adhere to what it says about homosexuality as much as to any other subject.
So, as marriage is ordained by God in the first place and as being not for procreation but for companionship (Genesis 2:18), then you might consider that anything suggested by man as being a marriage does actually make it one as long as it meets this criterion. Christians who believe that marriage is about procreation should take note that procreation is not mentioned until after the Fall.
As the founder of Faith and Pride, a non-denominational gay Christian organisation, I would like to invite all gay Christians and their friends to any of our meetings. Details are on our website, https://faithandpride.org/.
Andrew McFarland Campbell
This video beautifully explains why the “Love the sinner, but hate the sin” mantra is problematic.
God doesn’t care about what race your spouse is.
God doesn’t care about what class your spouse is.
Why would he care about what sex your spouse is?
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
My favourite translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is from The Message.
Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom.
Translating the vice lists in Paul’s letters is hard. Even if we know exactly what a particular word means in the context of the 1st Century (and we often don’t) it isn’t clear how to understand a 1st Century sin in a 21st Century context. For practical purposes, the vice lists shouldn’t be understood as lists of specific prohibitions, but rather as general guidelines on how to behave. I think The Message translates this vice list perfectly. It covers the general meanings of the terms…
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I think my least favourite translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is the New King James translation:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Neither homosexuals nor sodomites will inherit the kingdom of God? I’m not sure I know what the difference between a homosexual and a sodomite is…
For more about the translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, see Same-Sex Relationships: 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, and Same-Sex Relationships: 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy Revisited.
Yesterday we had our monthly Faith, Pride, and Chat meeting at St George’s in Belfast, which was followed immediately by a service for World AIDS Day.
Although I am now very close indeed to someone living with HIV, my first contact with HIV came in the early 2000s, when I first became acquainted with the work of John Boswell, Michel Foucault, and John J. Winkler. Those scholars were invaluable to me in my studies of the New Testament texts on same-sex relationships. Even today I find myself reaching for Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality to check something, and I almost always seem to refer to Chapter 1 of Winkler’s The Constraints of Desire when writing about ‘nature’ in Romans 1.
Foucault died in 1984, Winkler in 1990, and Boswell in 1994. Foucault was 57, Winkler 46, and Boswell 47. When I reach for the books they published, I can’t help but wonder about the other books they might have written had they lived longer, especially Foucault’s planned fourth volume of The History of Sexuality which would have covered Christianity. In October of this year I found myself wondering what Boswell would have thought of my own understanding of arsenokoites and malakos.
Gay Christians owe a huge debt of gratitude to those three men. Their scholarship has enabled us to claim our rightful places in the Christian churches. They all died of AIDS-related illnesses. I thought of them in my prayers during the World AIDS Day service, and when I lit a candle I lit it for them. HIV affects everyone, not just gay people, but gay Christians should never forget what HIV has taken from us.
But nor should we forget what modern medical science has given us. HIV is no longer a death sentence. With today’s antiretroviral drugs it can be fought and held at bay. There are many people who are living with HIV today, including my wonderful husband Michael. In your prayers, remember all who have gone before, but also remember all who are still here and will still be here. Remember and be thankful for all those who have fought and will continue to fight HIV, through their work or through their lives.
Sooner or later every openly gay Christian hears an argument that goes something like this:
You offer no Scriptural evidence to justify same-sex relationships in the eyes of God.
Unless you show that same-sex relationships are acceptable to God, they are wrong.
Now, that’s a dangerous style of argument for many reasons. First of all, it implies that we can justify ourselves before God. Rather than accepting salvation and forgiveness as a gift that God freely gives, it becomes something we can demand as of right; that’s not a particularly Christian doctrine.
Another reason why it is dangerous is because it implies that if something can’t be shown to be “right” then it must be wrong. That opens the door to a whole host of difficult problems. Chances are you are reading this on a computer of some kind. Can the use of a computer be “justified” from…
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There has been a lot of talk about the dangers of gay marriage over the past few weeks. Allowing gay people to get married would, it is alleged, damage society and harm families. Not only that, but gay people themselves don’t want to get married, as shown by the low take up rates of gay marriage where it is available.
In the UK, we don’t have gay marriage, at least not at the moment. We do have a very similar institution: civil partnerships. These have been around since late 2005, and the statistics are interesting. In England and Wales between 2006 and 2010, there were 40,921 civil partnerships. Over the same period there were 1,184,158 marriages.
In other words, 3.34% of all legal unions in England and Wales were civil partnerships, and the rest (96.66%) were marriages. The figures, broken down by year, are shown in the following…
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