I have limited time to write these days. I have a larger writing project underway and for the time being I have chosen to focus on it instead of blogging. But I want to take a moment to post a brief response to an essay that is getting some attention in social media entitled “Why ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ must be removed from Mormon culture.”
The difficulty with these kinds of posts is that they almost always violate their own premise. Decrying the judgmentalism of others is itself inherently judgmental. In saying that diagnosing sin requires placing oneself above another, the author is himself diagnosing sin and placing himself above the diagnosers he is diagnosing. There is simply no way to call out others for being judgmental without being hoist by your own petard.
The more fundamental issue is that this line of thinking is ultimately a disagreement about what constitutes sin. Even if “love the sinner, hate the sin” is a non-scriptural cultural cliché, it is a fact that as latter-day saints we are expected to love those who sin while still opposing sin itself (both in ourselves and in others). Identifying any kind of behavior as sin will always be potentially offensive to anyone who engages in that behavior. In practice, the argument the author presents becomes a functional prohibition on calling sins that have gained wide social acceptance what they are: sins.
I can’t dedicate much time to further response, but here is a link to something I wrote a while back that is relevant:
“Love does not cease to be love simply because it is expressed inartfully, nor does it cease to be love because the recipient of the love does not recognize it as love. Any parent who has taken a toddler to get vaccinated can tell you that love sometimes requires you to say and do things that your children will not perceive as love at the time.
The gospel isn’t only about making people feel good and accepted. The gospel is about declaring that sin is real, that the only path to true happiness and salvation is repentance and the grace of Christ– received through binding covenants administered by authorized representatives of Jesus. Love means inviting people to voluntarily submit to the admittedly difficult and sometimes painful path of Christian discipleship because there is no other way.”