Remember the phrase, love the sinner but hate the sin? Sadly, it has fallen out of fashion for a newer, more popular one: Love me, love my sins.
By Suellen Dusek
5 March 2019
Phone convo with my mom this morning:
Me: “Just thought I’d let you know that K—– is vacationing in the Dominican Republic with her fiance. Some midwinter get-away. It was his Christmas gift to her.” Clearly, they’re enjoying more than sandy beaches and umbrella-ed cocktails together—something about which her dad and I are not thrilled. I requested that she not give further scandal by posting pics all over social media. Then again, is a sin a sin only when others are looking? (heavy sigh…)
“Oh, well,” she said. “You can’t disown her. You gotta love her. Love is non-negotiable.”
“I know,” I replied. “We did the same thing when we were dating. Remember when we went to Glacier National Park to visit our college friends? As I recall, you weren’t too happy with us. I didn’t think it was a big deal at the time, but now I totally get it.” I paused for a second, “But if we only love the perfect people of this world, who will love us?”
Indeed. Love is non-negotiable. Sin, however, is optional.
How to unpack all that? I’m going to give it a shot.
God loves us. God IS love. Because of his great love for us, God entered into covenant with humanity throughout history with such people as Noah, Abraham, Moses and King David. Finally, God sent his own Son to work a new and everlasting covenant:
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28 (NASB)
Our loving God has entered into covenant with us for the forgiveness of our sins. However, Love does not condone nor negotiate with sin. God sent his Son to die on a cross to save us from our sins. God regards the sinner with eyes of love while hating the sin that wounds and separates us. This is what it means to love the sinner, but hate the sin. Sadly, that phrase has fallen out of fashion for a newer, more popular one: Love me, love my sins.
Love is non-negotiable. 1 John 4:8 says, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NASB). Not to love, then, is not an option. It is our very life’s work. In fact, I have come to believe that all of life is nothing more than a lived response to God’s love for us. We can respond to God’s love and others’ needs in word, deed and example when we choose to do good and reject that which is evil.
This Lent, learn more about what God calls good and evil by delving into God’s Word, the Bible. Avoid secular conceptions of good and evil; they are based on personal opinion.
Now, if God is love and love is non-negotiable, then we can know that God’s love for us is enduring. Despite our weaknesses and our sinful natures, God cannot deny himself or his very nature. This is good news! It means that we can turn to him anew each day and repent of our sins. We can confess our sins with a firm purpose of amendment and chart a new course. We can do this as often as we wish. God never grows tired of showering us with mercy. Our sins are but a drop in the ocean of his loving kindness.
But in this, God does not negotiate: we cannot continue to sin and remain in friendship with God. We must choose good and reject evil every day. If we fail, we need to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Also, we must not present ourselves for Holy Communion with serious sin on our soul. To do so is a grave and mortal sin against God, our first cause and the Love of our lives. Therefore, we must always strive to be in a state of grace before we receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus.
Lent is a perfect time to repent and believe in the Gospel. We are, after all, dust, and to dust we shall return. Amen.
Please pray for us. Thank you.
Hi, my name is Sue. I grew up in the Midwest where the land is stable and doesn’t shift under our feet. No earthquakes here, but we do have an occasional tornado or blizzard. This place shaped me into what I am: a practical, down to earth, family-loving, sensible, occasionally comedic, cradle Catholic who has struggled with my faith and remaining in relationship with God and others all my life. I make progress in baby steps, not miles. I hope to offer something that is spiritually edifying to others on this earthly journey. Keep me in your prayers, please. God’s blessings to you all!