I’ve spoken in the past about how much I can’t stand the notion that one can “hate the sin but love the sinner.” In fact, one of my earliest posts was about that same subject, and even though I’ve changed a little in this short period (you’ll see a few differences), I still don’t think it’s possible to do. And, since I like talking, here’s why.
So, this begins with my blogging. In an attempt to have things to talk about, I read a whole lot. I like other blogs, I enjoy other people’s ideas (or at least the ability to hear them), and I often run into ideas that absolutely confound or anger me beyond belief. And the more of these I see, the more I realize that my cynical belief that their motives are other than they say isn’t necessarily the case and they actually believe a lot of these things.
Let’s take, for example, Jeannie Notter, New Hampshire lawmaker with a logic train that apparently is missing a station.
Yes, an elected representative just suggested that oral birth control causes prostate cancer. You know, cancer in the organ that women don’t have. The organ that men, who don’t take oral contraception, have. That one. Oral contraception causes cancer in one sex via the actions of another.
Now, I’ll admit that I’m being a bit deceptive here. The article that Rep. Notter is referring to suggests that most of the hormonal ingredients go through a woman’s body, into the water supply, where they are drunk by men who then develop cancer, not that prostates attempt suicide rather than being associated with those loose, hormonally protected vaginae, even by a degree of separation or two. However, this is still a rather ludicrous claim that came out in November and has already been debunked in detail. I won’t go into it too much, but some of the problems is that the original researchers failed to take into account that more affluent countries where birth control is taken also have more regular prostate cancer screenings, as well as the debunking authors found a number of differences between the numbers reported in the studies and the numbers put on the charts and using the numbers from the actual data, there is no correlation between birth control pills and prostate cancer.
One should also note that the Dr. Brownstein she mentioned is an anti-vaxxer who seems to really believe that the flu shot has mercury in it when it doesn’t. Similarly, Rep. Notter has pointed out in the past that the Black Plague didn’t require any vaccines to disappear. Because the solution to a problem is to wait for it to end on its own whether we can do anything about it or not.
And the thing is: she really believes that. It’s similar to “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” and “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” The concept here is that there is a plan, there is a cycle, and if we let it happen, things will work out even if other people have to suffer. To Rep. Notter, if women have to die or carry unwanted pregnancies, that’s a small price to pay to save the people she’s chosen to champion: men with prostate cancer. She doesn’t see the women. If people have to be kicked out of their homes so the housing market will get back to normal, to Mitt Romney, then so be it. Sacrifices have to be made, and the idea that it’s real people doesn’t actually enter into the picture.
And this is where I come to loving sinners. The more I hear, the more I’m convinced that the people who say this most often don’t see real people, they see fallen souls waiting for salvation. I may be completely wrong on this score, so correct me if I am, but the whole attitude seems to be one of objectification and the person in question isn’t loving a human being, but is rather loving who they wish the human being could be.
The contraception debate (I shudder every time I realize that I’m typing that in 2012, or even on the internet which didn’t exist when this debate should have been over) is a great example of this. There was quite the kerfluffle over Foster Friess’s comments regarding contraception that boiled down to “don’t have sex”. It was criticized as everything from old-fashioned to misogynistic, and in a way it is, but I’m willing to say more functionally than intentionally.
You see, as Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism pointed out, there really is no cognitive dissonance between the opinion that abortion is murder and contraception/comprehensive birth control, which reduce abortion, are evil for exactly the reason Foster Friess just referenced: if people (specifically women, but sometimes more broadly people) would just refrain from sex before marriage or outside of it and accept whatever children happen, then there would be no abortion. If people lived by the standard set by Friess, Santorum, Dolan, whomever is calling for an end to legal contraception, then it would be unnecessary. It’s only because they engage in hot, dirty, filthy sex that this is an issue at all. It’s the behavior of sex, not the person who is God’s child that could give that up in order to be the person God wants them to be, who is deserving of love.
I’m sure by now you see what I mean. It sounds convoluted because it is convoluted. People are good, but they do things god doesn’t like, so the general attitude seems to be that the Christianist prays very hard and attempts to do what they consider loving by trying to prevent the person from engaging in what they think is harmful behavior. Opposition to marriage equality isn’t unequal because people can still marry opposite sex partners, just like god wants, even if that’s like telling a dehydrated person that they can’t have water but can drink as much olive oil as they like. Opposition to abortion is about saving innocent lives, which have been fetishized to the point where women aren’t even considered rather than actively hated.
The concept behind this behavior comes from a good place. I realize that now. But what is generally ignored by the “love the sinner” crowd is that they aren’t loving a person, they’re loving who they wish the person was. You can’t actually love a person while hating a part of them. This reduces the friendship to a mission, introducing the ulterior motive of wanting them to change their lives to better suit your ideas.
You can’t love a person on your terms, you have to love them on theirs. People can be wrong, and you’re allowed to think they’re wrong, but at one point you set limits on how close you can be with a person. I can’t “love” somebody while “hating” something about them, but I can “like” a person while “disliking” their opinions.