Hating the sin and other popular idiotisms.

I’m not sure when this happened but it feels like lately, the most pressing issues of the day are squeezed into short (oxy)moronic imperatives utterly devoid of meaning and depth. Nowadays, we seemingly prefer to deal with controversy by eliding and avoiding the heart of the matter and enabling continuation rather than change.

Take, for example, the oft-repeated Christian trope about homosexuality: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I’ve never really understood this particular instruction. As prejudice against homosexuals and other “sinners” becomes less and less palatable to our society, many Christians are today instructed to continue to hate homosexuality but to love homosexuals. But is it even possible to hate the sin without hating the person who commits it? Some people say it isn’t. I agree. Rather than asking congregations to hate the sin, how about simply commanding them to love everyone and hate nothing, be it a sin or virtue? I guess that might be too Christ-like.

Another popular trope is the one about supporting the troops even if you oppose the war. I’ve never quite understood this one either and I’m not the only one. As citizens, should we not have the right to weigh in on the major foreign policy decisions taken by our government without being accused of disloyalty towards our soldiers? Since there are few foreign policy issues weightier than the decision to go to war, should citizens not have an even greater obligation to voice their opinions? Are we supposed to believe that the people who decided to send the troops to war—where they risk being maimed or killed—actually support the troops more than those who are calling for an end to the war and the safe return of soldiers to their homes and families?

There are too many other similar expressions to go into detail on each but they all have one thing in common: They are mere words devoid of meaning or logical thought. While preserving our freedom of speech in the sense that we are still allowed to say words, these sayings are so diminished in meaning that we are left saying nothing new or different. In the first example, a hater is not challenged to replace hatred for love. Rather, s/he is allowed to continue hating, if not someone, then something; if not the sinner, then the sin. Similarly, people who oppose the current war are asked to pledge their support for the people who are—through no fault of their own—prosecuting the war. In the end, opposition to the war is so watered down by support for the troops as to become virtually meaningless.

 Orwell is certainly spinning in his grave.


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