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Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

Image from lds.org

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

That line of scripture (and paraphrases of it) get thrown around a lot, especially when Christians are saying something someone else doesn’t like hearing.

It comes from the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:1 (KJV), and the following verse reads: “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”  Christ goes on to say that the “beam” in your own eye (meaning your own sin) makes you unqualified to judge your brother for the “mote” in his eye (his sin).

Christ is trying to teach his disciples to have love and compassion for their fellow man, with the understanding that we are all sinners, and we all make mistakes.  There’s a great bumper sticker that summarizes this nicely: “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

A similar example is when the scribes and Pharisees wanted to stone a woman who was an adulteress, and they wanted to know what Jesus thought about that.  He answered, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7, KJV).  This pricked their consciences and they all quietly went away, leaving the woman with Jesus.

image from besanctified.blogspot.com

Both of these examples I have often seen used to try to make Christians shut up when they are making a point no one wants to hear, about behaviors in this world that we believe are wrong.

As a Christian, my moral center is based upon the teachings of Christ, and anything contrary to that I believe to be sin.  Sexual sins, materialism, selfishness, and many more are endemic in our society.  But society expects us to accept all these as “normal” and that we should just shut up and “not judge” like our religion says not to.

But that is not what Christ did.

And that is not what we should do.

There is a big difference between stoning a woman for adultery and, with Christ-like love, trying to bring her back to Him.  It is that latter that we should do, of course.  It requires us to make a judgement that her adultery is wrong.  That is, “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

That is what Christ did.

Christ treated the woman with love and compassion.  He extended forgiveness to her when He said “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?…Neither do I condemn thee…”  Christ spared her life to give her a chance to repent of her sins.  “Go: and sin no more.”  (John 8:10-11)

We, too, are to recognize what others do wrong and encourage them to repent.  After recognizing and repenting for our own sins, of course.  “…First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

“Judge not” doesn’t mean we accept sin as “okay” and “normal,” or teach our children that those things are okay.  It means we still love those who are sinning (including ourselves!).  We should try to help them choose God over earthly pleasures, by teaching and by being good examples.

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