Some Sins are Worse than Others

by Randy Everist

Are some sins worse than others? Or are they all the same? It seems as though many Christians would say, contrary to our strong moral intuition, that all sins are in fact the same. In relation to salvation this is clearly true. For instance, consider Romans 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” The idea is that any sin, no matter how “large” or “small” mankind may consider it, separates man from God. This is because sin, by definition, is a violation of the moral law of God. Therefore, proponents conclude each sin is exactly alike in the eyes of God; no sin is any better or worse than any other sin.

However, there are a few problems with this. First, it ascribes a sort of consequentialism with respect to judging the relative “rightness” or “wrongness” of an action. If some action results in being separate from God, then every action is entirely the same qualitatively. But what reason should we think that is true?

Second, it prevents any actions from being judged to be “better” or “worse” in any true sense. Between two bad options, only pragmatically can we say some action is better worse; there is no difference between, say, raping, torturing and killing a woman and stealing a twenty-five cent piece of candy from the dollar store. This seems highly counterintuitive. Perhaps someone would complain that intuitions are sometimes found to be wrong. However, this does not mean we should think my intuitions are incorrect. Even if we found that some of my moral intuitions are incorrect, what non-question-begging reason do we have to think that this particular moral intuition is wrong?

Third, this seems to go against biblical evidence itself…

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