Can You Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner?
“Hate the sin, love the sinner!”
This is pretty popular rhetoric spouted by individuals who choose to use their religion as an explanation (or, let’s face it, an excuse) for their homophobia.
There are multiple versions of this same idea — including non-religious ones like, “Well, I love you, just not your lifestyle.” For some reason, people think that this is a friendly way to condemn someone’s identity and choices without overtly expressing hate for who they are. It baffles me how this is an acceptable way to treat someone.
The “hate the sin, love the sinner” and “I love you, just not your lifestyle” people are the same ones who believe that showing love — even after condemnation — absolves them of blame, simultaneously making them immune to the homophobia that they refuse to confront. Sexuality, orientation, and identity, to them, is seen as a decision and a battle between right vs. wrong. Inevitably, they think they’re right, which is why they subtly (or not so subtly) inject their own bias into the equation, expressing disapproval of the “lifestyle” or “sin” that someone might be committing by being LGBTQ.
Here’s the thing: disagreeing with LGBTQ culture is not an opinion — it’s homophobia.
These people seldom realize this. They think that showing love for the “sinner” or love for the person despite their lifestyle is still an authentic way of supporting them, and that the debate over the legitimacy of LGBTQ culture is just a disagreement. But you can’t disagree with someone’s whole sense of self. Being LGBTQ is an identity, an orientation, a sexuality. When someone is LGBTQ, it’s just a part of who they are. They deserved to be loved for who they are, not in spite of it.
You’ll often hear these people spit out nonsense like, “Trust me, I’m not homophobic, I just don’t need it waved in front of my face,” or, “I’m definitely not homophobic, but I’m tired of the gay agenda,” or, “I’m not homophobic — it’s just that same-sex relationships are against my personal beliefs.” Well, heads up, sweetheart: every single one of those things is homophobia. You can’t speak from one corner of your mouth saying that you love LGBTQ people and then talk about how you hate the whole nature of their community out of the other side.
Homophobia takes many forms. It can be overt or covert.
Put it this way: you don’t have to use slurs or beat up LGBTQ people to be homophobic. You can be silently, invisibly homophobic. You can have hidden or internalized homophobia. And disrespecting or “disagreeing with” LGBTQ culture is just one of the many forms of homophobia. Everyone deserves love, and LGBTQ people are human, too — so when it’s a human rights issue, there should be no debate about whether or not it’s homophobic. You are actively oppressing the LGBTQ people that you love by consistently expressing your disapproval of their identities. You’re marginalizing them for simply who they are, and that’s not OK.
Ask yourself: do you love the whole of someone, or just parts of them?
Can you choose to love specific parts of someone but blatantly hate other parts of them? No. When you love someone, you just love them — all of them. Period. You don’t split someone into a million pieces and decide which of those pieces you want to love and which of them you don’t. Truly loving someone is about loving them for exactly who they are. Any less than that, and it’s not love. It’s approval.
Would you say to someone, “OK, I love the part of you that has blue eyes, but I hate the part of you that has brown hair?” Nope. You just look at them and say, “I love you.” Even if you don’t love their brown hair, you don’t critique every single aspect of who they are. You just love them — pure and simple.
Obviously, being LGBTQ is a lot deeper than having blue eyes or brown hair. But it’s still an identity. It’s still a part of who people are. It’s not something that they can change just to gain your respect. In fact, they’re LGBTQ because it’s about them, not you. It’s about who they love. Not about pleasing someone else.
If people “disagree” with LGBTQ culture, they are homophobic. Period. And it’s a great time to examine why that is. What is it about LGBTQ culture that is supposedly offensive? How is it actively even affecting them? What bothers them most about having a loved one who is LGBTQ? Exploring the roots of these feelings is essential to confronting them. Homophobia will never be OK — but it’s also not permanent, either. People have a choice of whether to address their beliefs and make change, or whether to continue to be hateful and ignore the reasons why. LGBTQ people don’t have a choice to just *not* be LGBTQ. But homophobic people, on the other hand, have a choice of where they can go next.
Often, people are phobic of things that they fear. Things that they are unfamiliar with. Things that they previously believed were weird or atypical just because they hadn’t had enough exposure to normalize them. If people sense these feelings of homophobia in themselves, perhaps they just need to be educated. Perhaps they need to take steps outside of their comfort zone. Do they care enough about the people they love to do the heavy lifting and change their narrative around LGBTQ culture? Do they have a desire to support their loved ones enough to confront their own bias? Are they willing to admit their own flaws and acknowledge their homophobia as a first step to meaningfully eradicate it?
I’ll be honest: I’m tired of people saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” I’m tired of people talking about how much they love a person but how much they disagree with their lifestyle. I hear it in conversation. I see it in comments on social media. I read about it in books.
And to me, it’s just one weak excuse.