How might we respond in debates among Christians on homosexuality when told to “love the sinner but hate the sin”?

– Robert C. Dykstra

In most every charged discussion among Christians on homosexuality, someone will rise to insist that the church’s proper response is to love the sinner but hate the sin. This pithy saying draws from among the most potent words in the theological lexicon – sinner and sin, love and hate. Yet seldom does it further conversation or foster new insight or accord. More often it has the effect of closing down debate, in the way of the bumper sticker that declares, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”

The injunction to love the sinner and hate the sin is heard so often as to lead many people to assume that God said it – that it is found in the Bible or was spoken by Jesus. Rather, the expression, or one very much like it, was penned several hundred years later – in the fifth century – by St. Augustine, the church father and bishop of Hippo…

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