Friday, August 03, 2012

“Hate X, Love Y”

I don’t know Kirk Masden, but today he posted a comment on my January 2008 blogpost, “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin,” in which I railed against that temporizing tagline.  He wrote:
My basic argument is that saying "Hate the sin, love the sinner" in regard to gay marriage is no less offensive than saying "Hate the delusion, love the deluded person" in regard to those who oppose gay marriage for religious reasons.
He directed me to his further comment at his Facebook page. There, he writes:
It is of offensive in the same way that gratuitously calling a person's religious belief a "delusion" would be offensive. I think, though, that the argument that the religious beliefs that undergird opposition to gay marriage are a form of "delusion" is at least as strong as the argument that maintaining a same-sex relationship is a kind of "sin." Here's psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers' three-part definition of "delusion": 1) certainty (held with absolute conviction); 2) incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary); 3) impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue). I'm not so sure about the third criterion but the first two seem to fit pretty neatly. My intent in writing this is not to offend my religious friends and relatives (though I'm afraid some will take offense). Rather, I would like to encourage those who use the phrase "hate the sin, love the sinner" as they denigrate same-sex relationships to think twice about it. How "loved" would they feel if they were constantly confronted with "hate the delusion, love the deluded person" in reference to their faith?
His comment helped me get in touch with some other analogies.  How would you feel if you heard some of these comments from supposed people of faith?

     “Hate Judaism, but love the Jew.”
     “Hate African-Americans, but love the African American.”
     “Hate Mexicans, but love Juanita.”

I know people like that.  They declare their “hatred” of a whole class of despised people, but then declare their affection for a particular subset or maybe a particular person.

Didn’t we see that in the bad old days of racism? Racists spewed hate against “niggers,” while they vowed fondness toward their laundress or gardener or baby-sitter who was black. 

Hate is hate.  And God did not tell us to hate anyone or anything in God’s created order. And love is love. And God is love. 

I could as easily say:
“Love the Christians. Hate the Christianists.”
“Love the Bible. Hate the biblicans.”

Looking at today’s Pharisees within Christianity, I could as easily say I “hate their sin, but love them anyway.”

But God calls me to love them all and to hate none of them.  Of course, sometimes that’s a challenge. But it’s what Christ calls me to do.

That’s the problem with the “hate the sin” crowd.  God did not give any of us permission to hate anyone else.  My Bible tells me that anyone who hates is not of the Spirit.  My Bible tells me God is going to judge us all eventually. God’s going to separate the wheat from the weeds, the sheep from the goats. Many parables remind me that it’s not my job to decide who – if anyone – God hates or loves. I think the people who spew “Hate the sin, but love the sinner” should stand trembling … as they make the judgment that God reserves as God’s own judgment to make. 

In all of Scripture, I can’t find an instance where God smiled upon people who hate.  I find many instances in which God showed mercy upon those who were hated.  So the haters should probably take a bit of care.


Blogger Kirk Masden said...

Thanks Lisa! I'm honored and I agree with all of the other points you made in your essay.

8/03/2012 9:37 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

You inspired me to think further about this topic, Kirk, and I am grateful.

8/03/2012 9:41 PM  
Blogger IT said...

I think the Chik-Fil-A day is an example of this. All I take from that is a lot of hate--no love. If that's what defines Christians -- well, this post makes the point.

8/03/2012 9:54 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

But, IT, you've been hanging out long enough with us Episcopalians that you surely know hate isn't what defines our tribe. We are not the Christian jihadists! The fundamentalists have a lock on that "prize."

8/03/2012 9:57 PM  
Blogger JCF said...

In my sloppier moments, I can bandy about phrases like "I HATE the Dodgers!" (Hey, I'm a Giants fan).

But generally speaking, using the term "hate" re ANYTHING human (or that humans do) is dangerous. "I hate murder": OK. But even the term "murder" is used by one group of humans against another (see re Israelis and Palestinians, for example).

Love humans. Love them, period. If you MUST hate "sin", hate ONLY your own!

8/03/2012 10:44 PM  
Blogger IT said...

Lisa, Of course you aren't. Remember, I'm as close to one of you as I can be. But I'm channeling the broad swath of non-believers out there.

here's the problem. It's what Dan Savage calls the NALTS: not all like that. But earnestly telling someone being beaten up by a self-defined "Christian" that not all Christians are like that, doesn't change the fact of the beating up. What you have to do is challenge the bully, not blame the victim for not knowing his Baptists from his Episcopalians.

The mainline has let the right wing claim the title Christian in the media. So, most people now identify "Christian" as "anti-gay". And it's not THEIR responsibility to define Christianity, if they aren't believers--that falls with you Christians.

It's only recently there has been pushback by liberal Christians who are openly challenging them. Have at it! This is a huge battle. One of the most encouraging outcomes of GC was vigorous discussion in the press that there IS a liberal form of Christianity.

The response Dan Savage makes to NALTs is, "fine. You aren't all like that. But that isn't my problem. what are YOU doing about these people misrepresnting you?"

8/04/2012 1:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, IT. Your point's well taken. I have seen the surveys that say the general populace views all Christians as narrow-minded, bigoted, hypocrites. That's because the narrow-minded, bigoted Christianists seem to get all the media attention.

How can mainstream Episcopalians get the work out there that we're not like Biblicans? I don't know. I do my best as I talk with folks who don't want to go to church. I think TEC is trying to get the word out. But it feels like we're a tiny voice in a roomful of shouting Christianists. I don't know how to do better. :(

8/04/2012 6:01 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

I agree with JCF. Our culture's casual use of the word "hate" is both offensive and dangerous, for all of the reasons Lisa and IT are discussing. It is a very negative, jarring word and people are becoming immune to its real meaning. I try to never use it.

8/06/2012 3:27 PM  

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