“Love the sinner, hate the sin” and “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” - Challenging some unhelpful perceptions and catch phrases thrown at LGBTQ+ people.

There are many common phrases that are thrown around by non-affirming people that may be well-intentioned, but can be extremely painful for LGBTQ+ people to hear. Some of these may even be believed to originate in the bible.

Whether you are personally affirming of LGBTQ+ people and relationships or not, I am sure that we would all like to be more loving towards each other so please take these reflections to heart and perhaps think twice about the words that you use when talking to LGBTQ+ people (in fact, a good rule of thumb is to be careful with our words no matter who we are talking to - not least because many LGBTQ+ people are still living in the closet and may not disclose how they feel to you).

“Love the sinner, hate the sin”

This phrase is commonly quoted by non-affirming Christians to claim that they still love LGBTQ+ people, even though they “disagree with their lifestyle” (another very harmful phrase to avoid). This phrase is declared so strongly by some that you would swear it was written in the bible or even said by Jesus himself (spoiler: it wasn’t).

Let’s be clear that the first part of this phrase is true. Of course we are called to love sinners! It is a message we encounter throughout the bible and in Jesus’ own words and actions. While Jesus certainly did love sinners, his command to his disciples was not to love the sinner, but to “love their neighbour.” This distinction is important. To love someone as our neighbour does not mean we necessarily have warm feelings for them. It doesn’t even mean that we have to like them personally. It means doing good to them, seeking to bless and encourage them. It means showing kindness to them, even though they have no right to claim this from us. Many people who cite this phrase do not show kindness, goodness or blessings to the LGBTQ+ neighbours.

As Adam Hamilton says, “I think Jesus knew that if he commanded his disciples to “love the sinner,” they would begin looking at people more as sinners than as neighbours. And that, inevitably, would lead to judgment.” When we put ourselves in a situation of seeing others as sinners rather than neighbours, our focus on the other as sinner rather than as neighbour defines our relationship.

For us to claim: “you are a sinner, but I choose to love you graciously anyway,” we are being self-righteous and prideful (two things that Jesus clearly and regularly spoke against).

The second half of this phrase is where the real problem lies. Jesus often interacted with sinful people, and yet we never hear Jesus saying that he hates their sin. When Jesus spoke to sinful people, he didn’t talk about their sin, but always about God’s forgiveness. In fact, the only time that Jesus ever seems to demonstrate a glimmer of hatred for sin is when the sin is committed by religious leaders who are hypocritical and using God’s name to abuse the poor and the oppressed.

Some people might point to the Apostle Paul’s writings to claim a need to hate sin, such as Romans 12:9 where Paul writes: “Love should be be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good.” But notice that Paul is not telling his readers to hate other people’s sins, but to hate the evil that they might be tempted to pursue in their own lives. Don’t pretend to show love, then judge in the very next breath.

Let me be clear: We should not keep silent about the problem of sin. There are sins and evil that we must hate and oppose in this world: sins that harm, oppress, or do evil to others, such as domestic abuse, racism, injustice, and indifference to others (I would include homophobia in this list). We should hate that children routinely die of starvation in our world of plenty. We should hate that people are victims of human trafficking. A part of our witness as Christians is to stand up to evil and resist it. Generally though, when we use the phrase “love the sin, hate the sinner,” this is not the sin that we are talking about. Mostly, this phrase is used to condemn LGBTQ+ people. It is used to define someone’s sexuality as a sin, even though many faithful Christians do not hold the same definition of sin.

The truth in the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin,” stops with the first word: Love! Let’s love one another and strive to lay aside our own sin, while demonstrating humility and grace towards others.

Jesus calls us to love others not in spite of their sin, but because they are people who deserve love, just like every single person in this world. They deserve our love because God first loved us. We must love them because Jesus said love is the way his disciples are meant to live and love has the power to change the world.

“God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”

Many people have used this phrase to somehow prove that homosexuality is against God’s ultimate plan for human relationships. The core argument behind this phrase is as follows: If God created a male and a female as the first humans, God intends that the correct (and only) human relationship that God desires is between men and women.

If we set Adam and Eve as the optimum standard for all human characteristics and relationships found in the book of Genesis, we will run into serious complications.

If we set Adam and Eve as God’s ideal humans, then we are also claiming that anyone who was born with a physical or mental disability is not accepted in God's eyes because they are also not like Adam and Eve were traditionally thought to be.

Or what about someone who is born intersex with both male and female genitalia? They do not fit the typical male or female identification and yet we do not immediately condemn them to eternal punishment (at least I hope we don’t).

But when it comes to someone's sexual orientation, for some reason, we are quick to base God's acceptance of a heteronormative relationship on this ancient story of God creating the first human beings.

Furthermore, we do not know much about Adam and Eve at all. We might presume that Adam was masculine and Eve was feminine, but that says more about our modern gender constructs than the scriptures themselves. The bible does not say much on this point. What happens if there was a literal Adam, but he was actually quite a feminine bloke?

The way that we use scripture to create clever catch phrases that can be debunked with a short theological reflection says a lot about our own personal prejudices.

We need to remember that the story of Adam and Eve is an ancient story from an ancient people. It was told and cherished to bring significance to their community’s understanding of God and humanity and the relationship between them. It was never meant to be a blueprint for human characteristics and relationships for all humans at all times. To read it as such is irresponsible and harmful to many.

A better interpretation of the Creation story in Genesis is that it is not good for humans to be alone. God created humans to be in healthy, life-giving relationships - whether heterosexual, homosexual, platonic or other. The story of Adam and Eve does not dispute this truth.

The Issue of Celibacy

Some non-affirming Christians claim that they can accept that some people are born with homosexual attraction and that this is not sinful in itself, but once an LGBTQ+ person acts on their sexual attraction, this is when their sin is committed. The argument then follows that as long as LGBTQ+ people remain celibate, they can be accepted in these particular Christian circles.

These people will point to select verses in the bible like Paul’s instruction to the church in Corinth for those who are single to remain celibate (1 Cor 7). They will further claim that it is a gift for LGBTQ+ folk to remain celibate as it will be marked against them as righteousness.

The problem is that while some straight and queer folk may have the gift of singleness as some like to call it, it is unfair and unreasonable to expect all LGBTQ+ folk to magically have this call upon their own lives, just as it would be unfair and unreasonable to expect all heterosexual people to have this call upon their lives.

Many people, both heterosexual and homosexual, choose to live a period (or the entirety) of their lives as celibate for their own personal or spiritual reasons. I don't think anyone would condemn their decision. Paul even goes so far as to declare it a holy calling, saying that for some, it is better to remain celibate than get married.

The problem with this argument is that for Paul, celibacy was a good and holy choice. For LGBTQ+ folk who are “encouraged” to remain celibate, it is not. They are told that it is necessary for them to be celibate to remain in good standing with God. It is an unfair and an unhealthy expectation to place on all LGBTQ+ Christians.

For the love of God, can we PLEASE stop comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and murder??

This is my biggest pet peeve in the conversation around LGBTQ+ affirmation. Often, when the topic of LGBTQ+ inclusion comes up, some non-affirming Christians respond by saying: "Yes we are supposed to love LGBTQ+ folk, but that doesn't mean we have to support their ‘lifestyle,’ just like we are supposed to love murderers and pedophiles, even though we don't support their actions."

To compare someone's sexual attraction or even their acting out of their sexuality to evil atrocities such as murder or pedophilia is absurd and highly disrespectful. LGBTQ folk are harming no-one by loving people that they are attracted to.

There is another variation of this argument by making exaggerated comparisons of homosexuality with true evils in the world. It goes something like this: "If we start accepting so many different sexualities and genders, then where does it stop? Will we also start accepting human adults having relationships with children or animals?" This tactic often refers to the “slippery slope.”

I’m sorry what?? Even though I cannot believe that I even need to address this, let us try to break down the reasons that these comparisons have no justification.

The key in this conversation is consent. When an adult enters into a sexual relationship with a minor, there is no reasonable consent. This is clearly wrong. When a human has sex with an animal, there is no consent from the animal. This is clearly wrong.

LGBTQ+ advocates are not fighting for a free-for-all, anything goes world. All they are asking, is that consenting adults are allowed to honour and practice their sexuality in a way that brings them joy and makes them experience love and wholeness.

I understand that there are some deranged people in the world who would love an excuse to abuse animals and children, but to compare LGBTQ+ people and relationships with these atrocities is insulting and obnoxious to say the least.

While some non-confirming folk want us to believe that supporting LGBTQ+ rights will lead to an immoral revolution, I do not know any LGBTQ+ advocates who are calling for the opportunity to molest their cats or the right to sexually abuse children.

“Homosexuality is being forced on our children!”

Many heterosexual people and particularly non-affirming Christians feel offended or even persecuted when they see more and more of the entertainment industry representing queer folk in movies, TV and music. Furthermore, education systems throughout the world are trying to develop helpful curriculum to educate children about the full spectrum of gender and sexual norms. And yet, non-affirming Christian parents are claiming that "homosexuality is being forced on them and their children."

Firstly, gay children have spent years watching heterosexual couples making out on their TV’s and in their textbooks and it never “turned them straight.” Let’s stop creating fear in places there need not be.

The reason why LGBTQ+ people and relationships are becoming more visible is because they are finally being given a voice and a platform that they have deserved all along. No-one is trying to turn your kids gay. You are still allowed to teach your opinions to your own children. LGBTQ+ activists are just trying to ensure that LGBTQ+ children are allowed the same freedoms that you also enjoy; the freedom to exist; the freedom to love; and the freedom to be themselves.

Try to imagine just how much LGBTQ+ folk (and especially children) feel affirmed and honoured by seeing people just like them on television, in books and in church.

Transgender Issues

The transgender community have their own challenging misconceptions and unhelpful catch-phrases that are hatefully spewed at them. Some of these are: the difficulty in using gendered bathrooms they feel comfortable to; the misunderstanding of assigned sex and gender; the issue of male and female sports categories; and the horrible catch-phrase tossed around to belittle trans people: “Well I identify as a helicopter or a cat.”

I would like to address these issues intentionally and coherently in a separate post soon, but for now, if you would like to be an ally to the trans community, please refrain from using these topics and phrases to condemn and belittle trans people and try to confront others who do.

Image Source: Loughborough University


  1. I wanted to take a moment to thank you, Joe. I have a deeply ingrained homophobia and hate that I've been spending years trying to address and detangle myself from. It's been a struggle finding accessible resources and information that helps the "average joe" (pun intended) really dig into the scripture that surrounds the issue of the LGBTQ+ clan in churches. So thank you! Thank you for being an ally, and supportive voice for so many who have not had the emotional and spiritual capacity to fight for their own rights within churches.

    I've found this issue increasingly difficult to work through in the polarizing nature of the current connected world. But as a queer christian, it is so important to identify and deal with my own prejudices that act as a barrier between myself and God. Just the simple act of engaging with affirming christians has been a huge stepping-stone to reconciling the inner-conflict that comes with being queer and a christian.

    God Bless and thank you again!

    1. Rev Joe Taylor27 June 2024 at 11:18

      Hi Jessie.

      Thank you for your comment and your willingness to be vulnerable in sharing your story. Unfortunately, such deep-seated trauma takes a long time to deconstruct and reconstruct in a healthy manner. But it is a good and necessary journey.

      I am glad that my posts have been a helpful resource to you. You have mentioned the very reason why I do this work: to be a supportive voice to those who cannot fight for themselves. Also to remind people of their worth in God's eyes which I trust that you are aware of as well.

      The polarizing nature of this discussion is my biggest frustration as well. It is almost impossible to have a conversation with the "opposite side," because it always seems to turn into personal attacks and defense. But it is important that the Church as an institution and those within the Church continue to speak about this topic because there are more and more people in our pews who are directly effected by it. If we do not learn to have more life-giving conversations around this topic, we are going to continue to lose young people to unhealthy outlets and even suicide.

      Well done for being willing to do the hard work of dealing with your own prejudices and may you continue to experience the grace of God as you draw near to God and live as the blessed child of God that you are.


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