While looking at the expression “God loves you, but hates your sin”, we’ve seen that it isn’t a quote from the Bible and also that God Himself says He hates sinners and not just the sin. So where does the idea of “God loves you, but hates your sin” originate? For something that is quoted so often you would think people would know where it originated. But most don’t. Does it matter who said it? Even whether or not it is true? I think it does. See if I found that Charles Spurgeon was to be credited with saying it then I would lend it more credence than if say Benny Hinn was quoted as having first said it. Not that Spurgeon is always right, but He does get more benefit of the doubt than a false teacher would. But then I would even check up on Spurgeon and see if it could be backed by Scripture. I know it is a radical concept but I would throw out even a Spurgeon quote if it didn’t stand up to Scripture.
The earliest person to be attributed with saying something similar to “God loves you, but hates your sin” is St. Augustine of Hippo. St. Augustine was Bishop of Hippo from 395 – 430 A.D. In a letter (Opera Omnia, vol II. col. 962, letter 211 ) St. Augustine wrote, he is reported to have said “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.” That is a similar statement but it isn’t in context. Is it attributed to God saying it or is Augustine himself saying it? That I couldn’t find out. And it matters greatly!
Another quote from Augustine:
“It is clear, then, that the man who does not live according to man but according to God must be a lover of the good and therefore a hater of evil; since no man is wicked by nature but is wicked only by some defect, a man who lives according to God owes it to the wicked men that his hatred be perfect, so that, neither hating the man because of his corruption nor loving the corruption because of the man, he should hate the sin but love the sinner. For, once the corruption has been cured, then all that is left should be loved and nothing remains to be hated.”
-Augustine, City of God, p. 304
This appears to be saying that a “man” should love the sinner and hate the sin. That is a big difference than God saying He loves the sinner but hates the sin. But notice also Augustine says “no man is wicked by nature but is wicked only by some defect”. I would say Scripture teaches that our nature is wicked from conception. We are sinners from the beginning, not just because we sin.
The next person who is attributed as saying something similar to “God loves you, but hates your sin” is Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi from his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth:
“Whereas a good deed should call forth approbation and a wicked deed disapprobation, the doer of the deed, whether good or wicked, always deserves respect or pity as the case may be. ’Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.”
I won’t bother explaining why Gandhi, a Hindu, is not someone whom a Christian should accept as worthy of quoting and holding up as a virtuous. For more info on Hinduism see CARM.
God loves you, but hates your sin.
• We don’t have this expression found in the Bible.
• We have direct quotes from Scripture that God hates sinners, ex. Psalm 5:5.
• This quote is quite different than the quotes it appears to be derived from. Since none of them appear to attribute it to God.
So what do we do with this?
Can sin be separated from the sinner?