June 16, 2011
Separating The Sin From The Sinner - Part 1
This idea is a cornerstone to Catholicism, as well as to other religions. It is a basic tenet we all need to not only know, but know how to carry out, in order to live at peace with each other and with each others' sinfulness. You may have heard it expressed this way as well, "Hate the sin, love the sinner." The behavior/sin has to be separated out from the person/sinner. It's part of forgiveness.
So here I am. A younger relative of mine recently moved in with her boyfriend. It's not the first time they have slept together under the same roof, in the same room, in the same bed. They've done it when they visited each other in the past. Now, though, they are doing it uninterruptedly, renting a place together, food shopping together, house decorating together, and even writing notes from "us". Are you married or aren't you? It is much more uncomfortable than I expected.
I have had thoughts of not wanting to visit them. I have also had thoughts of asking them when they are going to stop pretending to be married, and actually get married. Never mind the thoughts about all the fornicating going on, and the use of artificial contraception.
How do I love the two of them in this instance? How do I hate their cohabitating, fornicating and contracepting, while I love the two persons involved? It is not easy. Separate the sin from the sinner. Hate the sin, love the sinner. It sounds so easy, but those suggestions are packed with challenges I could never have foreseen.
I brought them a bag of groceries. Am I illicit in their sin? I was invited to stay with them a couple days. I'd like to save money, so it is tempting, but I can't do that. They may be pretending they are married, but I can't pretend. I got a note the other day, from the both of them. Since when did he start writing to me? I know they are ignorant about the impact their pretending to play house has on others, but I can't help my interior reactions of frustration, of fear (the divorce rate for couples who live together before getting married is higher than an already high rate), of anger (if they get pregnant, will they abort the baby?), and of humility (I can't control the world).
Hate the sin, love the sinner. Sounds easy, but when it is face to face in your life in a serious way, it is challenging. I don't know exactly how I will handle each situation that arises. Honesty with compassion is the modus operandi I strive for, but since I am a sinner, too, I am sure I will have to frequent the confessional myself.
image - http://www.zazzle.com/hate_the_sin_love_the_sinner_mk_gandhi_mug-168973483000872939
*Some details have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.