On a mailing list that I am part of, a person asked an interesting question, and one that I have come across before. As a matter of fact, I had been planning on writing about it for some time now, so thought this would be a good opportunity. Her question was about sin and whether all sin is the same or whether some sins are more serious than others. It is no uncommon today to hear Christians say that all sins are the same. This often comes in discussions about things like homosexuality. Someone might ask why we regard homosexuality as such a grave sin while the very person condemning it may have their own ongoing sin – perhaps that person is an alcoholic or is addicted to some sort of medication.
The answer to this question, is all sin the same, is both yes and no.
There is a sense in which all sin is the same. Any sin, whether it be speeding, lying, cheating or even something as grave as murder, is enough to condemn a person to hell. This shows the gravity of sin, that a single one gives God ample justification to condemn us to an eternity apart from Him. This is not God being petty or being a stickler for the rules – this is our own deliberate actions requiring that God’s justice be done.
Furthermore, it would be correct to say that all sin grieves and angers God. God despises sin for it is completely contrary to His nature. He existed in perfection long before sin entered the world and the perfect world He created sprang from His perfect nature.
In these ways, then, all sin is the same. All sin requires justice and all sin grieves the heart of God.
However, it is also correct to say that some sins are more grieveious than others. Perhaps it would be more proper to say that the consequences of some sin is more significant than others. While it is wrong to tell even a little “white” lie, for this makes a mockery of God who is Truth, this cannot compare to deliberately taking the life of someone created in God’s image. To equate a white lie with murder or alcoholism with infanticide is ridiculous.
We can see that God does not regard all sin the same way in the laws of the Old Testament. We see, for example, that the consequences of stealing are not as grave as the consequences of killing. Similarly there are degrees of consequence God lays out in regards to sexual sin – some is to be punished by paying fines, other by banishment from God’s people and still other by death. If God regarded all sin the same, it would stand to reason that the consequences would remain consistent. But this is not the case.
It is clear to me that there are more and less serious sins. While they are all heinous in God’s eyes, they are not all the same in consequence. However, this should not be seen to give license to Christians to evaluate their actions on the basis of whether something is a more or less serious sin. We are to “be perfect” and anytime we encounter the possibility of sin, we are to choose the more righteous path.