Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner

Ever wonder where the saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” came from?

“It is clear, then, that the man who does not live according to man but according to God must be a lover of the good and therefore a hater of evil; since no man is wicked by nature but is wicked only by some defect, a man who lives according to God owes it to the wicked men that his hatred be perfect, so that, neither hating the man because of his corruption nor loving the corruption because of the man, he should hate the sin but love the sinner. For, once the corruption has been cured, then all that is left should be loved and nothing remains to be hated.”

Augustine, City of God (Image Books, 1958) p. 304

10 thoughts on “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner”

  1. sorry for the delayed reply.
    Yes I agree that we should make a self assessment before we can judge others. But what if your brother is obviously and openly living in sin? should I just close my eyes pretending that I dont know what he’s doing?
    I think you should consider this pamphlet that says: JUDGING:The Christian’s Duty or kindly go to this site: (http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_97.htm#An%20explanation%20of%20this%20view).

  2. Alvin,

    As you read different parts of the bible, based on when the were written you will get slightly different interpretations. However, for me it is best illustrated in the New Testament, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” Jesus challenges all of us to look at ourselves and our own sinfullness and calls us to be without sin before judging others. He also calls us to love our neighbour as ourself. If we are to presume that we each have a level of self love, then we are called to love our neighbours knowing that they, like ourselves are sinners.

  3. I don’t agree with “God loves the sinner and he only hates your sins” stance.Is the Bible not enough when it said
    Psalm 5:5b:…thou hatest all workers of iniquity (person).
    Psalm 7:11:God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked(person) every day.
    The sinning nature is essentially attached to the person. So you cannot separate the two.Therefore God hates both the Sinner and the Sin.

  4. Gabbers, Augustine of Hippo finished his City of God in the year 0,426. I don’t doubt that Martin Luther was familiar with the quote, and may have used it.

    Clearly the saying is strongly in accord with what biblical precepts, but nowhere in the bible is this idea expressed with anywhere near this level of spot-on concision. I think we have to give the quote to Augustine.

    1. dogimo, I would not be as quick to assume that Luther was not familiar with Augustine’s works, especially his City of God… that said, one thing that we do get from Augustine is “All truth is God’s truth”. I am fine with Ghandi being the person who coined the phrase.. but that is not the point. I am not sure that we can actually love the sinner and still claim to ‘not’ be an enemy of God – we are called to love what God loves and hate what he hates… I find it difficult, actually impossible, to separate a sinner from his/her sin – the sin because that is what they are not the other way around!

      The real trouble is that we humans have an imperfect love and an ill-intended hate. God knows and shows pure love, and righteous anger/hate/wrath… until we are God I believe we should go on loving everyone, while also not approving of their wickedness (their very person and all they do = sinners).

      1. Thom, I said “I don’t doubt that Martin Luther was familiar with the quote.” I don’t doubt that he was. We can’t say Ghandi coined the phrase when we know Augustine coined it more than a thousand years earlier.

        As far as being called to hate, called by whom? How can a Christian be called to hate another human being? Christ is the eternal Word of God. Christ has explicitly called us to love even our enemies.

        You say we are called to hate what God hates and love what God loves, but God does not hate sinners. God sent Jesus Christ to die for sinners. God loves sinners. You are not called to hate what God loves. Nor are you called to judge the souls of humankind. Nor are you called to “separate a sinner from his/her sin.” Only Christ can separate a sinner from his/her sin, and Christ is eternally doing so. The judgment of God upon us has already been rendered: that judgment is Christ.

        You are not called to be the judgment of God. I fear you love to condemn more than you love to forgive. The day of judgment is not yet come, but when it comes, you should know your services in that area will not be required.

        Whereas today and every day, all of us are being called. We are called to love. We are called to forgive. We are called to mercy. Our services in the areas of compassion and succor are urgently needed, now!

        God will never need our help with judgment.

  5. Mahatma Gandhi published the quote in a book 1929, so it is still possible the quote be from him (seeing as this example given here is from 1958 and Gandhi had already died then)… What I would like to know is if it isn’t older? I’ve heard it is from Martin Luther but can’t find anything on it…

  6. The QUOTE may have come from Ghandi, but the idea came from the bible, which was written thousands of years before either one of those people took it.

    Christians are called to love everyone, but we are also called to hate evil as God despises evil. By loving our brothers and sisters we are supposed to NOT love the sins they do, because if we condone their sinful behavior we are a stumbling stone for them by letting them live in sin and think its ok, and the bible says:

    “but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” Romans 14:13

    “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” Romans 12:9

    “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge RIGHTEOUS judgment” John 7:24

    “Bretheren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” James 5:19-20

    “…whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” 1 John 3:10

    That last quote I feel is the best sum of things, that to be of God we have to do righteous things (ie living righteous, making righteous judgments etc) BUT ALSO we must love our neighbors, we are told to do BOTH not just one for a reason.

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