Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Perfect Hatred - are you doing it right?

Ever since I read Ralph Reed saying we should hate the sin, but love the sinner, I wondered where the words came from. And I got to wondering about Wilson and the cascades of invective descending on him these days. I may never see proof that he "bore false witness," but that doesn't mean he didn't lie. Maybe he did, but it's only between him and his conscience, between him and God.

Is there a basis for Christian love (at least as various Hebrew and Aramaic words have been translated as "love") for someone like Wilson, even if he is a liar? Well, it kind of depends on those words, and on the Christian basis for "loving" the sinner.

It turns out, "hate the sin, love the sinner" is not specifically from the Bible. (It's definitely not in the Senate Select Committee report.) Of course, we have this sentiment from Matthew, which I quote in full because its poetry is at once wry and rapturous:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. [Matthew v. 43-48]

The Bible: Read the Whole Thing. Someday, I will. But that Matthew verse is not specific enough. "Hate the sin, love the sinner" - where is that from?

Well, it turns out it's from St. Augustine's City of God, specifically:

.... the man who lives by God's standards, and not by man's, must needs be a lover of the good, and it follows that he must hate what is evil. Further, since no one is evil by nature, but anyone who is evil is evil because of a perversion of nature, the man who lives by God's standards has a duty of 'perfect hatred’ [Ps. 139, 22], towards those who are evil; that is to say, he should not hate the person because of the fault, nor should he love the fault because of the person. He should hate the fault, but love the man. And when the fault has been cured there will remain only what he ought to love, nothing that he should hate.

Papist revisionist heresy! It cuts no ice with some in the Bible Belt, anyway. However, if you Google on some likely suspects. e.g.,

hate.the.sin love.the.sinner homosexual

and poke around a little, you'll see that most of the evangelical world - indeed, much of fundamentalist world in America - chimes right in with Augustine on this point.

There's some good advice hinted at in Matthew - "... if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?" I'm reminded of some of the blogrolls I found while trolling away on my despicable Prove Wilson Lied web-junket. Some of these blogrolls scrolled for pages - just all the ideological "brethren" the blogger could find. I don't doubt that many have RSS feeds hooked up to quite a few blogs on their blogroll, mainlining their confirmation-bias sources, feeding their addiction to vindication. And I wonder whether a determined search at blogpulse wouldn't soon reveal a posting calling Wilson a liar and a traitor, but only on inconclusive grounds, made by a devout Christian on the Sabbath.


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