Is it a sin to despise someone?

I have a roommate who disgust me because of some UN-virtuous habits.
I was reading and examination and read that despising people is a sin.

Why is it a sin to despise people? what if you regularly hung around an abortionist (hypothetical)? Would you find that person disgusting?

It is like I dread being around the person.

de·spise (d-spz)
tr.v. de·spised, de·spis·ing, de·spis·es

  1. To regard with contempt or scorn: despised all cowards and flatterers.
  2. To dislike intensely; loathe: despised the frigid weather in January.
  3. To regard as unworthy of one’s interest or concern: despised any thought of their own safety.

scorn (skôrn)
a. Contempt or disdain felt toward a person or object considered despicable or unworthy.
b. The expression of such an attitude in behavior or speech; derision.
2. One spoken of or treated with contempt.
v. scorned, scorn·ing, scorns

  1. To consider or treat as contemptible or unworthy.
  2. To reject or refuse with derision. See Synonyms at despise.
    To express contempt; scoff.

loathe (l)
tr.v. loathed, loath·ing, loathes
To dislike (someone or something) greatly; abhor.

con·tempt (kn-tmpt)

  1. The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless

Hello js_cat
I’m going to throw in something that you might not like.
All of us have some unvirtuous habits. Some more than other maybe. It was with our unvirtuous habits that Jesus suffered and died for us. He did not despise us.
God might be stretching you. God has no need to test us because God knows already. Any testing may be for our own benefit. Something we can learn about our own self.
Try to look at what is good about that person. Comment on it and encourage it.
If you can’t do that then it would be better if you parted company with them altogether.
I don’t know the circumstances so it is also possible that the loathing might be of God.

I think so long as you treat the person with dignity knowing that he or she is a child of God and a sinner like the rest of us, I don’t see an issue. Also, you should try to despise the actions of the person if at all possible.

I despise members of my family for things they have done. But, I still try to treat them with respect because they are fallen like we are. However, there is no way that I will ever like some of their actions…and I truly despise the sinful ones.

I would say it is a sin to despise someone.

For one thing, there is an element of pride in it. I mean, God Himself loves the person–who are we to say that the person is unworthy? I may not be in a state of mortal sin, but that is a FAR cry from saying I am “worthy.” “For all have sinned and fall short…” you know. If we are both unworthy, and both loved by God, how are we in a position to despise him?

For another, it is hard to love and despise someone at the same time, and we’re supposed to love people, even when they’re not easy to love.

Finally, we are not supposed to judge the state of someone else’s soul. Even if a person performs actions that we rightly judge to be despicable, that does not give us the right to despise the person himself. It is because the person is made in the image and likeness of God that we should despise his sins so much. He is loved by God, and he may repent and be a great saint someday.

I’m not a moral theologian, but that’s my $0.02.


We are called to hate the sin that is causing us to despise the person, not to despise the person because of the sin. We all sin and fall short of the Glory of God.

Despising actions, habits (finding them repugnant) is a natural emotional reaction over which we have limited control. When despising behavior carries over into despising the person (because we are so focused on the behavior) then we have entered into the area of sin, and are identifying person with behavior.

Men in monastic communities, and both active and contemplative women in religious life, encounter this all the time. Even they have to intereact with the “despicable” habits of others. The way they deal with it is to focus on Christ’s love for the other person, seeing the best in the person, praying about and for the person, and praying to decrease the prominence of their own personal dislikes. Often such prayer leads to transformation of that other person, and/or to an opportunity to discuss, with charity, the content of our revulsions, in a way that persuades the person to think about the effect of his or her actions.

Sometimes despicability is a matter of personality differences; othertimes cultural differences, political, and/or religious clashes. If it’s a matter of behavior that most people would also find offensive (such as viewing pornography in a “public” or shared area, or using filthy words, etc., or even just questionable personal hygiene), you have a right to air your grievances because it is shared space.

If this is an institutional setting (such as a school/college), you also have the right to request re-assignment, based on particular offenses and incompatibility.

thanks…it seems I have been most uncharitable… I guess I need to learn to hate the sin not the sinner. thanks.

Yes, an excellent start!

Despising a person is not conducive to their salvation. Pity and prayer are more appropriate.

Of course it may be that it is difficult to be around another person who is deeply addicted to sin. But the loving thing to do for an addict is to try to help them which means
a) prayer
b) good example
c) being ready to help when they hit bottom

Despising just does not fit into this.


Refer to yesterday’s gospel.

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