Search icon


03rd Jul 2018

Here’s the problem with ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’

"It’s hard to be told that you are loved if your potential way of loving others is said to be hated."

Rich Cooper

It’s a phrase familiar to many, synonymous with a more modern Christianity.

‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ is most commonly attributed to St. Augustine, who used the phrase in his Letter 211 in 424 AD. “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum,” which translates roughly to “with love for mankind and hatred of sins.”

The phrase is frequently used in relation to same-sex relationships, meaning that church and congregation can accept individuals without contradicting religious teaching.

According to Vicky Beeching, media commentator and former Christian music star, the phrase is problematic, in that it is used as a way of projecting a more modern, accepting image of Christianity, without accepting the way people live their lives, creating a painful duality.

“That was a phrase that church came up with to, I guess, try and make out that their theology wasn’t homophobic,” Beeching said on Unfiltered with James O’Brien, the hit interview podcast from JOE.

“If you’re a gay person, that means the church can claim that they and God love you, the sinner, but they hate your sin. It’s very divisive and fragmenting. It’s almost like there’s these two parts of you, and you’re supposed to believe one of them’s okay but the other one isn’t.

“It’s hard to be told that you are loved if your potential way of loving others is said to be hated. That’s the really difficult part.”

Beeching went on to explain the innate hypocrisy in the statement, comparing the use of the phrase between gay and straight people.

“Evangelical churches today would say that actually now they don’t think there’s anything wrong with having gay feelings. It doesn’t inherently make you bad, it’s actually acting on them. But saying that to a straight person wouldn’t work.

“It’s like, you’re a heterosexual person, your feelings for someone are okay, but if you do anything about them, if you ever wanted to have a partner or a life or a marriage, that would be wrong.”

Vicky Beeching appears on episode 38 of Unfiltered with James O’Brien. Listen and subscribe now.