Why do some sins seem worse than others?

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Why do some sins seem worse than others?

Jan 16, 2003 |J. Budziszewski
Question

It seems that sexual sins (like premarital sex, adultery, and pornography), along with murder (like abortion, suicide, and assisted suicide), are most strongly condemned. Why is it that of all the sins that mankind can think up to commit, these two in particular bear such a stigma? Why aren't lying or stealing or cheating equally bad? I know that sin is sin, and no matter how big or small some particular sins might seem to us mere humans, they all separate us from God. So what's the big deal about sexual sins and murder? I thought maybe there might be some sort of connection between the two that you might explain.

Answer

Good questions! I won't comment on whether murder and the misuse of the sexual powers are the most sinful of all, and I don't want to lessen the gravity of other sins, but these two are certainly grave, and the reasons deserve explanation. Let's start with murder.

Murder is heinous primarily because of what it destroys. This isn't like stealing. You see, money is only money, but man is the image of God. To murder a man is to desecrate God's image, and thereby to insult God Himself. Another reason murder is so terrible is that it is irreparable. You can give back money, but you can't give back a life. Finally, murder hurts so many people. Not without reason are weapons of violence called "widow-makers." They might with equal justice be called "orphan makers," "debt makers," and "makers of despair."

Sexual immorality too is an insult to the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Do you get the picture? It is not only man and woman individually, but man and woman together which make the image of God; the love of the spouses images the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It follows that to deface the relation between man and woman is to deface God's image in humanity. Related to this is another great "mystery" of the faith: Paul says in Ephesians 6 that the relation of husband and wife represents to us the relation of Christ and the Church, His bride. Sexual immorality defaces that image, too.

Another reason why sexual immorality is so gravely wrong is that, like murder, it hurts so many people. The rightly ordered love of husband and wife is the seed of the family, but wrongly-ordered sexual passion ruins families, twists families, and prevents families from forming. And let's not forget that in the end, sexual immorality actually generates murder. Why do we have such an epidemic of abortions? Because people want to have sex yet reject the divine gift of children.

Speaking for myself, I hadn't originally planned to spend so much time in my columns addressing sexual matters. What changed my mind was my reader mail. The letters dramatized that the sexual disorder of our time is wreaking havoc among Christians too — much more than I thought. People are in misery. Perhaps in another day and age it would be more important to talk about different sins, but this is the age that I live in.

Grace and peace,
PROFESSOR THEOPHILUS

Copyright 2003 Professor Theophilus. All rights reserved.

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