I have seen several comments on various threads that connect the preaching against a sinful behavior from a church, to the self-loathing of a church member who engages in this behavior.  I feel that this connection and result are not necessary, and that more healthy responses from the believer are readily available.

First, it should be kept in mind that engaging in some sinful behavior does not make one unique.  It is universally known that Christianity teaches that all (other than Christ) have sinned.  And while all sins are not equally serious, the differences are of degree rather than of kind.  So to me, the real question is why do some believers respond to the gospel of repentance by humbly seeking to change their sinful natures (and retain a positive self-image), while others turn to self-loathing?

One answer to this question (usually given by those who are sympathetic to self-loathing) is that the church is being to harsh in how it preaches against the sinful behavior, or that it should not be preaching against the sinful behavior at all.  There is a difficult balance that churches must maintain – to teach that certain behaviors are sinful, yet to keep hope alive for the sinner.  To neglect either message would be to teach only a partial gospel.  Those who would criticize the church for teaching only of sin and guilt would do well to search lds.org for topics like forgiveness or atonement.  There are a wealth of articles, lessons, videos, etc., that could keep one busy for months.

The other part of the answer has to do with the hearers of the word.  The hearer who desires to come unto Christ, even when that means changing some desired behaviors will receive the word with gladness, and will give away their sins to know, and become like, Christ.  The hearer who self-identifies with their particular sins, and would prefer to remain in them rather than imitating Christ and following His teachings, will likely receive the word with resentment.

I realize that all of this is of course an over-simplification.  But that is what I am often about.  Yet if baffles me that those who profess to follow the gospel of repentance are offended when this very gospel recommends fundamental changes in behavior.

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