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:: Monday, May 31, 2004 ::

Should We Hate the Sinner?: Judicial Activism and Calvinism

That which separates allies from foes can be thin as silk sometimes.

Steven Smith writes on the "evil-motives strategy", the Supreme Court and the question of how the ideology of the court nullifies the "hate the sin, love the sinner" maxim.

"Suppose that, as a fallible and fallen human being, I do not succeed in hating the sin but loving the sinner. I hate both. I shouldn't, but that's the way I am. Even so, what is the more plausible causal account? Do I start by disapproving of some action as sinful, and then lapse into hating the actor? Or do I begin by hating the person and then project my hatred onto some action that this person performs?"

"The evil-motives account of my position would seem to presuppose the latter: my ostensible moral disapproval of conduct is declared illegitimate because it is in reality merely a manifestation of hatred toward persons who engage in that conduct."

In other words, from the court's point of view, you can't hate the sin of homosexuality (or any sin really) and still love the sinner. This political attitude is one reason why obtaining legal support for a rejection of legislation such as Canadian bill C-250 will be very difficult in this country.

Smith continues: "In short, even in the midst of a chaos of moral perspectives, virtually everyone will agree that it is wrong to act on the basis of hatred."

Well, almost everyone. It seems that on the basis of a literal reading of particular Psalms buttressed by quotes from a few Calvinist preachers, that perhaps we should in fact hate both the sin and the sinner.

While I sympathize with Robert's points about taking sin seriously, not succumbing to the PC temptation to ignore the effects of sin, and making sure to protect the Faith from heresy and wolves in sheep's clothing, I would challenge him to support his general claims with more patristic and NT based "proofs."

Jared continues the discussion in full force with Robert at Darren's blog. Jared brings up a great question:

"How does your type of hating and despising sinners play out in the real world? Is it just an attitude? You mention shunning in your post, but then say you should provide for the needs of your neighbor. You say we should love people because they are made in the image of God but then say we shouldn't befriend sinners....Can you spell out how that works out practically? If it's just a theological distinction based on one's commitment to holiness and an attitude that does not gloss over or ignore a sinner's sin, I don't see what the big deal is."

It might be interesting to dig deeper into the connections between the current political ideology that refuses to believe that Christians can oppose sinful actions while still loving the people themselves, and Robert's position.

Considering how one is reached with the philosophy of political correctness and fueled by anti-Christian animus and the other by a Calvinist soteriology, one might assume they would come to opposite conclusions. Practically speaking, there doesn't seem to be much difference in this case.

:: Karl :: 8:41:00 AM [Link] ::

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