Holiday season is upon us! Thanksgiving is just next week and Christmas will follow soon after…
For most of us, that means spending some extra time with family. And for some, it can be a little tense – especially if your family doesn’t share your same faith or values.
So how do you handle it? How do you hate the sin but love the sinner — especially with family?
Father Dwight Longenecker writes at Patheos:
“True love for the sinner is to see them for who they really are and to see past whatever problem, addiction, brokenness or confusion they suffer from and to wish God’s perfect healing love to be active and fruitful in their lives. We’re all a mess, and the sooner we realize it the better, and the person who is most compassionate is the one who realizes what God’s amazing grace has done for them and how they have been rescued and to wish that same deliverance for others.
“So it is first in our own conversion and the long, hard road of repentance, reconciliation and renewal that true love for the sinner and hatred of sin is fostered. Hatred of sin because we see how it has destroyed our own lives, and love for the sinner because we can see what they might be and who they could become if they were only to yield to that amazing grace.”
That’s not to say that we should condone sins or sinful behavior in an effort to be peaceful.
In fact, if you’re concerned that your extended family member’s sinful lifestyle may impact your children or your husband — and their understanding of our Catholic faith, than we have to choose between the lesser of two evils.
As Fr. Longencker points out, “The good of preserving your children’s understanding of Christian marriage without confusion or compromise is a greater good than being nice to Ben and Jerry. After all, Ben and Jerry are not members of your immediate family, and although you might want to be nice to them, your duty to your children comes first. This is no different than any number of other choices we make between two goods. I want to take my kids on a grand European vacation, but I also want to pay for their college education. I choose the college education. Therefore in the wish to be nice to everyone and love the sinner while hating the sin sometimes the sinner is going to get knocked. It can’t be helped.”
You can read more of Fr. Longenecker’s advice on how to hate the sin, but love the sinner here.
photo credit: Gamma-Ray Productions