Why do some Christians say “all sins are equally bad” and “everyone is equally guilty”?

Young women very supportive of premarital sex
Young women very supportive of premarital sex

We were having a discussion about whether the Bible teaches that sex before marriage is morally wrong, and someone said “impure thoughts counts as adultery… there isn’t a virgin among us”.

Regarding her point that lust is equal to adultery, and so no one is really a virgin, here’s Ligonier Ministries:

In demonstrating that the seventh commandment was given also to prohibit lust, Jesus is not somehow saying that an unconsummated lustful intent is sinful to the same degree as an actual extramarital affair (though both sins merit punishment). The latter is a more blatant violation of the statute against adultery, and it has greater consequences in the form of divorce and the loss of one’s reputation as a trustworthy person.

Any serious student of the Bible is aware of Jesus’ tendency to exaggerate / use hyperbole.

Also, 1 Corinthians 7 says that wives are not supposed to make a habit of denying their husbands sex. Sex withholding is more of an epidemic today than pornography, and it should also be on the adultery spectrum. It isn’t as bad as adultery, but it definitely breaks the marital covenant.

So why would someone say that lust is the same as adultery, and that there is no such thing as a virgin?

Dr. Michael Krueger recently blogged about this “all sins are equal” view.

Krueger says this:

First, to say all sins are the same is to confuse the effect of sin with the heinousness of sin. While all sins are equal in their effect (they separate us from God), they are not all equally heinous.

Second, the Bible differentiates between sins. Some sins are more severe in terms of impact (1 Cor 6:18), in terms of culpability (Rom 1:21-32), and in terms of the judgment warranted (2 Pet 2:17; Mark 9:42; James 3:1).

Krueger explains the motivation behind the slogans:

[S]ome Christians… use this phrase as way to “flatten out” all sins so that they are not distinguishable from each other. Or, to put it another way, this phrase is used to portray all human beings as precisely the same. If all sins are equal, and all people sin, then no one is more holy than anyone else.

In a world fascinated with “equality,” this usage of the phrase is particularly attractive to folks. It allows everyone to be lumped together into a single undifferentiated mass.

Such a move is also useful as a way to prevent particular behaviors from being condemned. If all sins are equal, and everyone is a sinner, then you are not allowed to highlight any particular sin (or sinner).

Needless to say, this usage of the phrase has featured largely in the recent cultural debates over issues like homosexuality. Yes, homosexuality is a sin, some Christians reluctantly concede. But, they argue, all sins are equal in God’s sight and therefore it is no different than anything else. Therefore, Christians ought to stop talking about homosexuality unless they are also willing to talk about impatience, anger, gluttony, and so on.

Krueger also posted this fascinating follow up post, where he looks at how the phrase is being used by people on Twitter.

Look at these tweets:

  • All sins are equal. People tend to forget that. There is no bigger or smaller sin. Being gay and lying, very equal.

  • all sins are equal in God’s eyes. whatever you’re doing, is no better than what someone else is doing.

  • If you have sex before marriage please don’t come on social media preaching about the wrongs of homosexuality. All sins are equal

  • Need people to realize that all sins are equal… don’t try to look down on me or question my faith just cuz you sin differently than I do.

  • Don’t understand why you’re so quick to judge me, when all sins are equal. So much for family..

  • if you think being gay is a sin, let me ask you something, have you not done anything wrong in your life? all sins are equal. we’re sinners

  • Nope no difference at all. All sins are equal no matter what you’re running for. The bible says do not judge lest ye be judged

  • A huge problem I have with religion is the notion that all sins are equal. Like pre-martial sex and murder are the same amount t of bad.

  • people do bad things because they believe that all sins are equal and ~god~ loves y’all equally so he’s going to forgive you naman ha ha ha

  • It a sin to condemn another sinner and their actions. All sins are equal. So what makes you better than the person you’re condemning?

  • I think so b/c having sex before marriage doesn’t make you less of a women then if you waited until marriage.. all sins are equal soo

  • friendly reminder, all sins are equal in gods eyes so you’re not better than I am in any way. please worry about your own sins before mine.

  • People don’t like when I suggest abortion as an option. This is a free country and all sins are equal so mind your business!!!

  • What I do is no worse than wat you do… all sins are equal no matter what it is… a sin is a sin

  • to god all sins are equal so you have no right to compare your sins to someone else’s bc in the end it doesn’t matter

The first thing that I noticed is that premarital sex and homosexuality are the most popular sins. I would think that divorce and abortion would be up there in the rankings, as well.

People want to be free to follow their hearts when seeking pleasure, then quote the Bible (badly) afterwards, to attack anyone who says that anything they’ve done is morally wrong. They would rather escape the judgment of their peers than admit fault and try to fix the mistake, and do better next time. And they would rather tell people who are hurting themselves by breaking the rules that there are no rules. It makes them feel good to “not judge” – they feel as if they are being kind. Their compassion looks good to non-Christians. And they’re promoting moral relativism which, when it becomes widespread, prevents anyone from judging them.

It’s so bad now, that the people who have morals and who make moral judgments are seen as the real bad people. The immoral people are on the offense, and even trying to ban people from being able to disagree with them.

13 thoughts on “Why do some Christians say “all sins are equally bad” and “everyone is equally guilty”?”

  1. Kruger is a fantastic teacher. We are so blessed to have Kevin DeYoung as a pastor and Kruger as a teacher at our church.

    Jesus notes in this passage and elsewhere that some sins have greater condemnations: Luke 20:46–47 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

    So sickening — yet unsurprising – that people would equate abortion with any other sin. It is fake piety designed to let them worship their false god and to maintain popularity with the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In this verse, Jesus, Himself, settles the matter:
    John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

    Jesus said there are greater sins.
    Regarding lust: I think you are right, none of Jesus’ disciples literally plucked their eyes out. Jesus was just saying that lust is the root of adultery, and it is already in your heart. Hatred is the root of murder, and it is already in your heart. The Pharisees claimed that they kept all the law. Jesus was pointing out that all are still sinners and that even if your righteousness exceeded that of the Pharisees, you were still going to need a savior to cleanse you from your defilement. Jesus was certainly not implying that lust was equal to adultery and that folks with working eyes should all be stoned to death, or that haters should all be killed as if they were murderers. Jesus wasn’t there to change His Father’s laws, just to point out that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard, even the pious Pharisees, were guilty enough to go to hell if they didn’t repent and accept Jesus sacrificial death, even if just for their unholy thoughts. However, many of the the Pharisees were full of pride, another sin of the heart/mind, and that led them to deny that they needed Christ’s teachings to correct the sinful error of their ways.

    Coveting is the root of thievery. All these sins start in the heart/mind and must be resisted, so that they don’t bear their wicked fruit.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. There may also have been an element of Rabinnacal “fencing” involved here – something the Pharisees took to a wrong-hearted extreme. “Be careful how you look at women because you might lust in your heart and then pursue that lust to an adulterous conclusion” – that sort of thing. He was certainly guarding a Standard, as a minimum.

    Examine Luke 17:2 or Rev. 3:15 as more examples of clear differentiation among sins, including the sin of lukewarmness. Consider how much both the OT and NT talk about homosexual behavior – it is always condemned in no uncertain terms.

    Finally, in the secular sense, I can assure you that people who take the “all sins are equal” tack would never apply that “philosophy” to chattel slavery, the Holocaust, or racism (real or imagined). Did Harriet Tubman have to be sinless to oppose slavery? Did Corrie ten Boom have to be sinless to oppose the Holocaust? Did Dr. King have to be sinless (man, was he not!) to oppose Jim Crow laws?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Everyone needs to read this. All sins are not equal, when I was reading this post this scripture came to mind where Jesus said in Matthew 10:15:
    “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city”. Showing that there are degrees of punishment for sin, meaning not all sins will be punished alike because not all sins are the same.
    Also Matthew 11:23-24:
    “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee”.

    Bible scholars always say let scripture interprete scripture and you can clearly see that Jesus was pointing out to the fact that not all sins will be punished alike because not all sins are the the same or “equal”. Also in Mark 6:11:
    “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And it makes sense philosophically too. Most of the people in Hell from this particular age we are living in are nice, responsible, law-abiding citizens who just wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Are they depraved? Yes. Are they as evil as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the President of Planned Parenthood? No.

      It would not make sense that my parents are suffering as much in Hell as RBG is or those mass murderers I listed. Are they suffering? Absolutely. Are they being aborted over and over again like I believe RBG is? No. Are they being gassed to death over and over like I believe Hitler is? No.

      Galatians 6:7 shows that God’s Justice is Perfect. I wouldn’t want to be anyone in Hell, but I sure would not want to be the woman who unrepentantly championed partial birth abortion for decades up to her death.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. I think the root of this “all sins are equal” go as far back as the garden of Eden. Human beings will do and say anything just to avoid acknowledging their sin and asking God for forgiveness. Instead of Adam to acknowledge his sin he blamed Eve and Eve instead blamed satan and here we are today. People don’t want to be called out for their wrong doing, they want to level everything on the same platter and make sinning the same instead of acknowledging their sins and running to God for forgiveness. It’s very sad

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s a great example!

          And we might even make the argument that Adam’s sin was greater than Eve’s even though it was her sin that kicked things off. In addition to eating the forbidden fruit, Adam relinquished his spiritual authority to Eve – that’s a double sin. He could have easily said “Nope, not participating in YOUR sin, Eve” and then turned to God and said “This one’s a reject – please send me another.” But, he doubly sinned, and then they both sinned by blaming others.

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  5. Jesus also dealt with Judaic ideas that had arisen over time that were not correct.

    As a response to the nation of Israel being conquered and taken into slavery and the way many in Israel had historically kept worshipping idols in high places, displeasing God.

    A swing the other way of making even more laws and focusing on not breaking laws as a means of salvation became common to many. Jesus had a problem with the idea of a lack of sin led to salvation.

    It is more correct to find it is saved by faith with an act of grace.

    And as you find in the legal first glance books like James, it focuses on ideas conveyed in the ot prophets. Be holy for I am holy.

    Also to recognize we are not wait till the resurrection for a desire to sin to magically disappear when we are with God. Till then people want to sin away and enjoy their sin in this life and in eternity God will deal with it all.

    Becoming more like God is a process that a occurs over time. Sinful desires will always exist in this life

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