About Hating the Sin and Loving the Sinner – and Hating the Punishment and Loving the Punisher

Punishment is abuse, something I say a lot.

I know I’m ruffling some feathers with it, and I know why.

Unfortunately, me condemning the practice of punishing will feel like I’m condemning the people who practice it (or the ones who have practiced it in the past), if they feel like the practice is part of them.

It’s the same as my argument about why Gays feel hated by Christians, even if the Christian haters (not all Christians, I know) say they “hate the sin, not the sinner.” When gays feel the “sin” is PART OF THEM, then hating the sin IS hating the sinner, to the “sinner.”

That is a chestnut. The Christian gay-bashers will continue, because, although the gays feel gayness is part of them, the Christian gay-bashers don’t think so . . .

so in the case of punishing, I’m the hater. A punisher may feel that punishing is part of them, but I don’t think so . . .

so the punishers, or the former punishers, feel hated my me. I guess I’m starting to see how anti-gay religious people feel. These are rather parallel things, for sure.

Of course, there are differences. I don’t think the punishers of world are concerned that their punishing is part of them, for them it’s built into, PART OF the punished, not the punisher. For them it’s about Original Sin – that we are born evil – or its Naturalist version – that we are evolved from beasts and are born with beastly instincts that need to be suppressed. Still, though, anyone who has raised a bunch of kids in the usual way identifies very strongly with punishment, with the “need” to punish. Still close to parallel.

And now for my defense.

1. It is going to matter whether these identifications are real or not, whether they’re true.

– is homosexuality built into people?

Many say yes, and there are many good arguments for the truth of it. I believe it’s built in, PART OF people. Maybe not every gay person, as not every person living a hetero life is really wired hetero, perhaps some people live gay ‘against their natures.’ Homosexuality seems to be an integral part of many people, despite that it is often a fringe life-style, a life lived against the current, and fraught with difficulty and often danger.

– is punishing built into people?

This question hasn’t really come up for many people, I don’t think. Again, it’s more the other way, as in “Is needing to be punished built into people?” But when it’s posed to punishers now, maybe for the first time, I think –

Many will say yes. After all, it’s nearly universal. Dishing out punishments can appear automatic and natural. But, unlike homosexuality, punishing doesn’t exist stubbornly, against the current, it doesn’t exist despite being marginal, despite being threatened. Punishing is unchallenged, unless it is seen in an extreme form, and very much supported. It is in this support that we see the difficulty:

How do we know if something that we teach constantly, use constantly, and recommend continually is natural? How do we determine whether it would occur naturally? Where has punishing ever been allowed to occur naturally, when have ever seen people raised in the absence of the society that seems to be a cult of punishment? Everyone in our society wears clothes. Is that built into us? How do we separate these things?

2. One is sex, one is violence. (If you think punishing can be other than violence, ask me in comments, or read my blogs.)

– this is our society, where sex is immoral and violence is not. I mean that as a critique, just to be clear. I think for the religious, that arrangement seems to be correct, but not for me, not for the liberal, not for the modern, secular person.


So, parallel as it seems, these are the differences:

3. Homosexuality IS part of people, and it exists despite persecution, despite everything, because it IS built into some people, it IS natural.

4. Punishing is taught, promoted, supported by scripture and old science, and nearly universal, and if it is natural, we would never know it. Punishing is literally forced upon us all.

5. If we want to know if punishing could exist in nature, we’ll have to do an experiment: we’ll have to stop teaching it, promoting it, supporting it with bronze age stories, we’ll have to stop forcing it on everyone.

Then we’ll see if it exists without all of our efforts to make sure it does. Let’s take it off life support and see if it lives.

Then we’ll know.

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