Reflections and Blog

Are Some Sins Worse Than Others?

In Pastor Babij’s Sunday sermon, he asserted that some sins are worse than others and that homosexuality is a particularly heinous sin. You might have wondered, however, “Aren’t all sins the same before God?” The answer biblically is that both are true: in one sense all sins are equally evil to God, and in another sense some sins are worse than others.

The reason we can say that all sins are equal before God is because all sins are the same at their core. Any sin—whether lying, complaining, murder, or adultery—is a rejection of God and an exaltation of self. All sin is prideful rebellion against God and his commands (Gen 3:4-7; Isa 53:6; James 2:10; 3:14-16), blasphemy of his worthy character and salvation (Isa 48:11; Jer 2:5, 11-13; Mal 1:6; John 3:18), and worship of a false and undeserving god (Ezek 6:9, 14:3; Mt 6:21; Rom 1:21-23). Therefore, all sin receives the same fundamental penalty: God’s infinite wrath, expressed most frighteningly in everlasting and fiery torment (Mt 5:21-22; 12:36-37; Rom 3:23; 6:23; Rev 20:11-15). The essentially equal nature of sin is what puts all people in the same sinking boat that is so desperate for the salvation of God in Christ (Rom 3:21-26).

Nevertheless, God also makes distinction in the severity of sins and even in their punishments. In God’s law for Israel, different sins were to receive different penalties (e.g. compare Ex 22:16 and Lev 20:10). Moreover, God sometimes compares levels of sinfulness, an action only possible if the sins of one person/people are worse than the sins of another (Lam 4:6; 1 Ki 14:9; John 19:11). Jesus affirms that knowledge of God’s will affects the severity of a sinner’s judgment (Lk 12:47-48). Finally, various portions of Scripture highlight certain sins as particularly shocking or grievous, especially child sacrifice and sexual perversion (Dt 12:31; Jer 32:35; 1 Cor 5:1-2; Jude 1:5-7).

When it comes to homosexuality, the Bible indeed categorizes it as a particularly terrible sin: homosexuality is one of the sins called an “abomination” worthy of the death penalty in Israel’s law (Lev 18:22; 20:13); is the crowning sin of wicked and doomed Sodom (Gen 19:4-7); and is repeatedly condemned in the NT (Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10). Homosexuality contradicts God’s original design for sexuality (Gen 2:24), rejects the witness of nature and conscience (Gen 1:28; Rom 1:26-27; 2:14-15), flouts God’s intended gender complementarity in marriage (Gen 2:18-23), and destroys the asymmetrical marriage picture of Christ and the church (Eph 5:22-33). Thus, homosexuality represents a uniquely flagrant type of rebellion against God.

The Bible never gives a hierarchy of sins as to which sins are the worst, and it would not be profitable for us to seek out such a list. Some sins are said to be particularly heinous, but all sins merit eternal death, including our own. Modern culture would like us to believe that there really ought not to be any rules on sexuality; only “love” matters. But a holy and good God insists upon his singular design. God will judge the sexually immoral, but God offers such sinners full and transforming rescue in his Son, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:9-11).

Hebrews 13:4, Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Questions to Consider:
1. Should Christians ever become numb to the heinousness of certain sins, or even of sin in general?
2. How should the essentially equal nature of sin cause us to be compassionate toward even the most flagrant sinners?
3. While homosexual acts are clearly condemned in the Bible, what about same-sex attraction? Consider a helpful sermon on the subject by Pastor Mike Riccardi.