Tag: Aquinas

6Apr

Should We Hate the Sin, But Love the Sinner?

The wrongs a man does to others correspond to the bad qualities that he himself possesses. “ – Aristotle

It is sometimes said, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” I agree, but I want to expand on what this should mean. We tend to think of hate or love in very emotional terms. This is natural, but it should not be the emphasis. We’re not called to love the sinner in the sense that our hearts just overflow with deep affection for who they are. After all, suppose someone has a character such that they tend to be very irritable and self-centered. Are we supposed to “love” this sinner while hating the concept of irritability and self-centeredness? It seems impossible to separate the sin from the person.

This is because as Aristotle would say, how a man acts reveal his character. Or as Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts” (Matthew 15:19). In other words, evil thoughts come from an evil heart. If the heart defines a person, how could we possibly not hate the sinner in the process of hating the sin? We know the heart defines a person because we love people for their characters. Try to imagine your best friend having every character trait removed from him. All you have is an empty shell, a blob of nothing. Is your best friend a blob of nothing? Of course not. So we cannot possibly detach our affections from the person’s character.  Read More »