So, here’s one I hear a lot, sometimes from pastors:
“Christians act like there’s some sort of hierarchy of sin, as if one sin is any worse or better than another. That’s not true and it’s not supported by the bible. Sin is sin, end of story”.
When people say such things, they’re well-intentioned. What they typically mean is either:
Both sentiments are true enough; we do need to take a zero-tolerance policy to sin in our own life; and it is wrong to condemn the more visible sins of others while a great big plank remains firmly planted in our own eye (Matthew 7:5). But there is a flimsy correlation between these truths and the notion that “sin is sin (i.e. equal)”.
Where they’re getting this (I think) is from verses such as this one:
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery’. But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
But Jesus isn’t saying here that “all sin is equal”. He is saying that all sin separates us from God, and we all desperately need God’s forgiveness and grace to enter the Kingdom; but He isn’t saying that leering at a member of the opposite sex is as socially or spiritually damaging as acting on that impulse and hopping into bed with that person.
Of course some sins are much worse than others, this is supported by both common sense and scripture.
I could go on, but I think my point is made. Some sins are obviously more damaging than others and demand a firmer and more immediate response from the believer who has committed them and, in some cases, even from the community of believers around that person.
As with all matters of scripture, it is important that we get this right, and that we avoid obviously incorrect sentimentalities that miss the biblical mark. All sin is sin (true) but not all sin is equal.
Colin McComb lives in Edson, Alberta with his wife, Gail, and their three lovely children.