How Do I Love the Sinner but Hate the Sin?

Many people scorn Catholics because they believe the Church teaches us to hate people for their sins and cast judgment when it is not our place. But that could not be further from the truth. Rather, Church teaching tells us that we are to love the sinner and hate the sin.

But how do we do that?

Cathy from Baltimore called into The Patrick Madrid Show to ask this very question, expressing her confusion at how to better follow in the footsteps of Christ. In particular, Cathy referenced the practice of homosexuality and how to show love to those living that lifestyle without condoning their behavior or condemning them as people.

“How do I celebrate the person without celebrating the sin, especially when there are children involved? I’m really confused about how I as a Catholic Christian should react,” asked Cathy.

Patrick began to answer Cathy’s question by first explaining that we should be more precise in the language we use when dealing with a question like this. “Celebrate” is most likely not the correct word to use when describing interacting with another person in a normal context. Celebration is reserved for the recognition of achievement or a special occasion. When we self-impose the necessity to “celebrate” another person, specifically someone living a sinful lifestyle, we make it trickier for ourselves.

Instead of asking ourselves how we can “celebrate” others, we should ask ourselves how we can show others that we appreciate or like them, without condoning their sinful actions.

“What if you drank too much, and you had a really bad drinking problem? And it’s affecting your life and it’s not good for you. Well, I can still like you and not like what you do, and I could even maybe tell you, ‘That’s not good for you.’”

Too many people today lack the ability to be what is called a “brutal friend”. Plainly, a brutal friend is someone who tells it like it is. They are honest because they truly care about the well-being of those around them. Brutal friends are often accused of being judgmental or condemnatory, but they are able to recognize the habits, patterns, and lifestyles of their friends that will lead to unhappiness, and they would rather tell the truth and lose that friend than lie and allow them to hurt themselves.

At the same time, it’s important to recognize that while you shouldn’t condemn and exclude a person for their sins, you cannot allow their sin to drag you into sin. You are the sum of the people you surround yourself with. If you need to limit the access a person has to you and your family because of their habits which could be dangerous, then that is what you need to do.

“Do not be led astray: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Christ was among the afflicted, for he came not to call the righteous but the sinners. We are called to do the same, but we need to ensure that we don’t undermine our moral code and Catholic values by our proximity to the sin. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Tune in to The Patrick Madrid Show weekdays 8am – 11am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.