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Louis Comfort Tiffany, Window of St. Augustine...

Louis Comfort Tiffany, Window of St. Augustine, in the Lightner Museum, St. Augustine, Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. Augustine carefully worked out what has become a famous formulation of Christian ethics: love the sinner, hate the sin. Even the sinner is good by nature. If we’re careful to distinguish the sin, everything else is worthy of our love.

But the character of the human will is important here. If it is wrong, these motions of the soul will be wrong; but if it is right, they will be not only blameless but commendable.

So the man who lives according to God, and not according to man, should be a lover of good, and therefore a hater of evil. And since no one is evil by nature, but whoever is evil is evil by vice, whoever lives according to God should hold a perfect hatred toward evil men. He should not hate the man because of his vice, or love the vice because of the man. Instead, he should hate the vice and love the man.

Once the vice is cursed, all that should be loved will remain, and nothing that should be hated.

–St. Augustine, City of God, 14.6

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