Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin??? Not So Fast

This is a quote from Christian recording artist and comedian Mark Lowry. At first read it sounds like quite an admirable quote. It seems here that Lowry is saying that instead of focusing on everyone else's sin, that we should leave them alone and focus on our own sin. He ends off by saying "I'll hate my sin and let's just love each other!"

But here's another question. What do you consider to be sin? Are sins certain acts that we take part in? Is sin the nature of our humanness? 

Growing up within fundamentalist evangelicalism, I was taught that sin was both. I was born with a sinful nature, and I committed acts of sin if I lied or cheated or watched Britney-Spears-in-a-bikini videos. Hating my own sin to a degree also meant hating a part of myself.  There is this fundamentalist evangelical mindset out there that were it not be for the grace of Jesus and God (which confusingly were the same, along with the Holy Ghost), that we would be miserable little twerps. Or as Amazing Grace says, "wretches."

The terminology of "hate the sin" can become obsessive for many Christians as they try to erase their unworthiness and each blemish that they can find.  Even if one believes that Jesus, by his blood sacrifice was the atonement for all of our sins - something I do not believe - it still leaves one to have a pretty glum view of their filthy selves.

I believe instead that we should have grace and gentleness when it comes to ourselves, and often our "sinful" or dark parts can teach us more about who we are. Often it is a better thing to accept our so-called sins in order to be a more whole person. Of course sometimes this isn't the case and we need to work things through with therapists and counselors.

But "Hate The Sin"? Nah. How about "Understand Yourself."


Ruth said...

Mark, thank you for this. I agree that at first what he says sounds good, and right. But coming from an evangelical background myself, and leaving it and religion behind (my dad was a Baptist minister), I am struck by the same thing as you. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you wrote, so very succinctly.

It took me years and years to let those old voices slip away. "Self" was something to die to, and not in the Buddhist sense. I've come to love my being, with all her shadows. Also, I believe "sin" in a bottom-line spiritual sense is separation from the Divine. Ironically, I feel that Christianity promotes this! GOD as OTHER, not the divine within.

I just read this quote by Mary Oliver:

“someone i loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
it took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

Mark Andrew said...

Ruth, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for commenting; I appreciate it!

I love what you wrote: "I've come to love my being, with all her shadows."

For a couple of years I was part of the Unity church, which really focuses on the Divine being within us, or being AS us. To an extent I believe this, though I must admit it is still comforting to call out to God in prayer, and some of the Christian imagery such as the Prodigal Son are quite moving.

Have a great weekend!