“Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a widely espoused Christian cliché as a way to express love for a person but not what they do. In almost all cases, this is used to describe a “loving” attitude towards the LGBTQ community, but it’s still steeped in homophobia.
The phrase seems to come from Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography where he writes, ”Hate the sin and not the sinner is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.”
This says that hating the sin and not the sinner is not ever actually done, so the person judging the sin is also judging the person. I agree it is incredibly hard to separate a person from what they do, but it can be done.
However, when used in the context of LGBTQ identities, it conflates action with personhood and identity. Being gay is not an action; it is inseparable from who someone is. No one feels the need to separate a straight person from their actions, and who straight people love and are attracted to is considered a part of them.
There is a clear distinction between being gay and being a thief. A gay person is living out some intrinsic part of themselves every day, whether they are in a same-gender relationship or not. Being gay comes from within.
Being a thief is motivated by some outward force, whether it be need or boredom. There is no intrinsic need to steal things.
To say “love the sinner, hate the sin” there is always an inherent hatred for “gayness.”
There is also an underlying thought to this cliché, which is that if being gay is an action, people should be pushed to crush their “urges” and live a celibate life, or a straight one. It’s this idea, that gay people can and should stop “being gay” even if they continue to “feel gay” that is truly dangerous.
People who go through conversion therapy, or an effort to change their sexuality, are eight times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGBTQ youth who were accepted by their families.
If people continue to think of being gay as something bad and “sinful,” the world will continue to be dangerous for LGBTQ people. True acceptance of LGBTQ identities does not consider it a sin, it considers being gay as something natural. I don’t think it should matter if being gay is a choice or not because it should be okay to be gay.
There are many churches that are LGBTQ affirming, including the First Presbyterian Church and the First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green. It’s possible to be a Christian and be gay, and it’s possible to be Christian and be totally accepting of LGBTQ people. But it takes a paradigm shift of what is considered “sinful” first. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is not a loving ideology.