3 Reasons “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin” Is An Abomination


Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Rarely in history has there been a greater mischaracterization of the heart of Jesus or a more egregious bastardization of the Bible than these six words.

The damage that LTSHTS has done in the lives of billions of people and to the public perception of Christians can never be fully calculated, but one thing is certainly true: it’s an embarrassment and a sin and a total abomination—and here are three reasons why:

1) Jesus never said it. 

Lots of Christians would have us believe that Jesus would be totally onboard with LTSHTS, but the simple truth is that he never prescribed anything like it in Scripture. Jesus was crystal clear in his teachings about our calling to love: God, and our neighbor as ourselves, one another as he loved us, our enemies, sacrificially, extravagantly, relentlessly—but never with caveats or qualifications. He never let anything about a person’s life keep them from intimate fellowship with him (and he was the only one qualified to do so).

LTSHTS supporters will ask rhetorically, “Well doesn’t Jesus preach against sin and therefore hates it? Isn’t hating sin just being obedient to him?” Jesus always spoke to people about their own lives; about the sins they were personally called to address in response to him. Whatever repentance Jesus was inviting people to, it was on their behalf, it was never on behalf of anyone else. His words were never given as license to police someone else’s moral condition, but to use a mirror to assess one’s own. Any behavior modification, any inner conviction, any heart change would be between Jesus and those hearing his words. Only he decides the work he does. We don’t get to play middleman between Christ and another human being. We are assigned the tasks of feeding, healing, and caring for those we cross paths with, in his name.

Unfortunately for those so clinging to LTSHTS, Jesus commands us to love people—period.

2) It’s cowardly and morally inconsistent.

Let’s be honest here. Whenever any Christian uses the phrase LTSHTS, it’s never in the context of anything other than gender identity and sexuality, which itself is an indictment of the words themselves. It isn’t as though these faithful folks spend their entire lives dispensing the kind of behavior-based malevolence that LTSHTS always comes packaged with. It’s not as though they continually scour the Scriptures, applying their theological understandings of sin to those in their midst who might lie or steal or commit adultery or love money or drink to excess. If they truly loved those “sinners” and hated those “sins” enough to treat people as horribly as they treat the LGBTIQ community for the sins they charge them with, they’d have nobody left who could ever stand to be in their presence. LTSHTS is simply an exercise in selective, subjective sin-shaming and targeted discrimination disguised as righteousness.

If you’re a Christian and you’re going to choose to be hateful or biased toward people based on their gender identity and sexuality, you may as well just come out and say it. Own your discomfort or displeasure. Hiding behind LTSHTS is just using Jesus as justification for the kind of behavior he would be quite appalled by. It isn’t Christlikeness, it’s cowardice.

3) It’s a relationship-killer.

At the core of LTSHTS is the argument that gender identity and sexual orientation are somehow choices (an idea that runs counter to everyone’s experience of both, of course, but that’s neither here nor there). The speaker of LTSHTS believes that the person in question is making a decision to do something that the speaker believes is inherently sinful, yet (the speaker claims) they are able to somehow separate a sexual act (which they despise), with the person engaging in said act (whom they supposedly love). I’d really like a practical unpacking of how that all works with actual people, but I doubt it will be forthcoming.

Never mind that gender identity and sexual orientation are for all of us, both far greater than simply any physical acts we perform, and therefore to characterize LGBTIQ people as inherently sinful for only those acts themselves, is completely flawed from both a Biblical and common sense perspective.

But someone’s sin isn’t really the issue here and we don’t even have to agree on that. Regardless of our theological perspective, we can’t ignore that at the heart of Jesus’ life and ministry is the way he drew people close to him, listened to them, touched them, broke bread with them, wept with them, and treated them with dignity, as equals.

When a follower of Christ claims that they LTSHTS, they are saying two things loudly and unquestionably to a LGBTIQ person:

One, that he or she knows that person’s body and heart from a distance, better than the person in question knows from the inside.

And two, that what those people are telling them is involuntary about themselves, they are characterizing as despicable. They are declaring them as inherently defective, vile, evil. I’m not sure those who wield LTSHTS so causally have any real idea how damaging and hurtful that is; what it really speaks to the hearer’s heart. If they did, I’m certain they would see the complete absence of Jesus in it.

To say to a LGBTIQ person, “I love you but I hate your sexuality”, is the same as saying to someone, “I love you, but the color of your eyes disgusts me”, or “I love you, but I hate the way you laugh”, or “I love you, but God believes that the freckles on your shoulders and cheeks are an abomination.”

LTSHTS is not (as its practitioners allege) a balanced phrase, but a hateful phrase; one that never makes a relationship between two parties better or closer or richer, it only severs or prevents the very kind of intimate fellowship Jesus forged, even with those he disagreed with. To utter it is to stand in complete opposition to the life he lived and to the ministry he practiced.

Christian, there are many more reasons why “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin” needs to be killed and buried forever, but those are a great start.

The bottom line, is that it is a phrase that injures, demeans, judges, and ostracizes people who are made in the image of God, and those are things that should never be on the agenda of someone claiming to be following in the footsteps of Jesus.

We’re talking here about important conversations, regarding extremely complex issues, with incredibly diverse human beings. These all deserve much more than a cheap, insulting catch-phrase. They deserve far greater effort than a lazy religious platitude which doesn’t work when fleshed out in real relationships and serves no redemptive purpose.

LTSHTS is about as sinful as we can get, friends. 

To never utter that phrase again, may be the very repenting Christians ought to do—but that’s between you and Jesus.

As for me?

I love you, Christian, but I really hate the way you—”love the sinner, hate the sin.”



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463 thoughts on “3 Reasons “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin” Is An Abomination

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  2. Guess what? The word “trinity” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible – but it’s true. Love the sinner, hate the sin is what the cross of Jesus is all about. If God didn’t hate sin, he’d tolerate it. If he didn’t love the sinner, he’d let us all perish. You missed the whole point of the cross.

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  4. I came across an article or two of yours that a friend posted around the time Trump won the presidency. This friend is homosexual, and I disagree with her lifestyle because I believe the Bible calls it a sin. However, we are still friends, and I love her very much.

    Doing some research for my ministry class, I randomly came across this blog posting. I realized it was by the same blogger as I had seen earlier.

    I just wonder… who has hurt you? What pain have you experienced to make you so passionately against any Christian calling homosexuality a sin?

    As a Christian who believes the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin, I am not out to hurt homosexuals and their families.

    I always felt that LTSHTS comes from the fact that God loves people and God hates sin. I always try to be more like God and I have applied this motto to people, no matter what the sin is. The bottom line is, we are all sinners in need of God’s grace.

    • You are absolutely correct. Sexual immorality is not just an LGBTQ problem. God also hates adultery, pedophilia, bestiality, and pretty much all sexual behavior that takes place outside of marriage. That covers pretty much the majority of humanity.

      We’ve only begun to scratch the surface for all of mankind’s sins here, but the main point is that even though God hates sin if He didn’t love us, He would never have sent Jesus to take our place at the cross. So, yes, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”.

  5. hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. …I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life — namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.
    C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

  6. Matthew 22:37-40
    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    1 Peter 4:8 
    8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.

    James 4:12
    12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

    Matthew 5:43-44
    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 

    Matthew 9:36
    36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

    Romans 5:6-8
    6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Matthew 5:47-48
    47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    1 John 4:7-11
    7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 

    If you can argue with the Bible and still think that you are right, here’s another one for you:
    Psalm 18:30
    30 As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless

  7. John, Jesus *did* say it – on the cross. The cross is God’s definitive statement of hatred toward sin and love for the sinner. Think about it. Remember, thinking is a lost art these days worthy or recapturing.

    • Michael Anthony,
      With all due respect, it’s hard to be conscious and not be aware of the amount of thought that had to go into creating this article.
      I agree on the thinking part of your own comment, however it might be refreshing if people thought long hard about making assumptions about what a man called Jesus said at any point in his life, or making assumptions about the mind of God which can so directly affect the life of another human being in the only life he can be relatively sure he has because he is alive to see it.

      Especially considering that no human on this planet now, was there. And man was no more reliably trustworthy then, than they are now considering the horrific things that were done to others in the name of god by Christians themselves. And some of those things being advocated by Christians even to this day.

      We all should know from experience that something said on one end of a room is almost entirely different once it’s reached the other side of the room. And man has always had a vested interest in furthering his own agenda, then and now. I think that if a god exists, and we are held responsible or how we treat another, we risk making gods of ourselves and using the hearsay in the bible to justify our actions.

      I tried out the Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin on a group of christians one time that were in the habit of using it themselves and their reaction was swift, that I should mind my own sins. To which I replied, Indeed!

      They themselves took offence at the very saying that causes so much grief for the targets of their biblical bigotry and condemnation.

      They didn’t seem to get that you shouldn’t have to be gay yourself to know how hurtful and counter productive the phrase actually is. One should only have to know the pain of thoughtless comments coming from loved one’s to empathize with the pain of a stranger.

      If we do not have that empathy we can’t say with love with a straight face. Well we can say it, but it won’t be genuinely received.
      There is little we can’t justify, religious or otherwise.

      • Jesus had tremendous empathy when he hated the sin and loved the sinner, by going to the cross. It’s hard to ignore the tremendous amount that God poured into the cross. Until a person does, they don’t understand either the severity of their sin, or the depths of God’s love. God does indeed hate the sin and loves the sinner. The cross proves it.

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  9. I always thought that if could say, “I love _________, a victim of cancer, but I hate cancer”, then I could also say I hate sin for it is very much like a cancer.
    You say “He never let anything about a person’s life keep them from intimate fellowship with him” but doesn’t the story of the rich young man show a little different aspect? Jesus didn’t put anything between them, but He did point out that there was something that already exists that MUST be corrected. When the rich young man couldn’t do it, Jesus just let him go. I think that love is a relationship that, by definition, has to be reciprocated or it isn’t complete and whole.

  10. As soon as I read his opening comment, I stopped reading, since he made an incorrect assumption – that the phrase is ALWAYS applied to gender identity. Wrong. Maybe that’s the only way he’s heard it, but that doesn’t make it true. It is frequently applied to ALL sin. I am not LGBTIQ, but I am a wretched sinner saved by grace. The concept is a wonderful one, that all Christians should aspire to. And how do we know just how wonderful it is? Because God Himself provided the perfect demonstration of it in practice (Romans 5:8). If God demonstrated His love for me by Christ’s atonement on the cross, shouldn’t all Christians follow His lead?

    • And when you cross over and meet your Maker, you will not be asked about my sins, but about yours. You will be asked how YOU lived your life and did you wrongfully judge others, when it was clearly stated and written in your holy book that was God’s task and not yours. Just a hunch. Jesus teaches. People judge.

  11. The Bible clearly teaches that God is love. First John 4:8–9 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” Mysterious but true is the fact that God can perfectly love and hate a person at the same time. This means He can love him as someone He created and can redeem, as well as hate him for his unbelief and sinful lifestyle. We, as imperfect human beings, cannot do this; thus, we must remind ourselves to “love the sinner; hate the sin.”
    How exactly does that work? We hate sin by recognizing it for what it is and refusing to take part in it. Sin is to be hated, not excused or taken lightly. We love sinners by showing them respect (1 Peter 2:17), praying for them (1 Timothy 2:1), and witnessing to them of Christ. It is a true act of love to treat someone with respect and kindness even though you do not approve of his or her lifestyle or sinful choices.

  12. I couldn’t agree with you more, John. Using this phrase mocks Jesus’ death that set us free from the law of sin. It also mocks the intended purpose for the Holy Spirit. It mocks the Father and elevates man’s self-centered reasoning above God’s truth.

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