Are Sins Equal?
Are all sins created equal? For example, like comparing someone who committed suicide to someone who said God's name in vain. Would they both receive the same punishment?
All sins are equal in that they are all capable of condemning the soul to hell.
James 2:10 states, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
For this, I use the illustration of a chain with many links. The top of the chain is connected to heaven. I am holding on the the bottom of the chain as it swings over the fires of hell. The chain represents the commandments I must keep in order to keep from falling into hell. Each link is a different command or requirement from God. How many of these links need to break in order for me to descend into hell--that is, if I am trusting in my own righteousness? The answer, of course, is one. Any and every sin equally makes us a sinner and deserving of hell.
However, some have taken this to mean that every sin is equal to every other sin in every way. That is not the teaching of scripture.
Jesus told Pilate, "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" (John 19:11).
If there is a greater sin, there must also be lesser sins. Luke 12:47-48 teaches that the servant who knew His master's will and did not do it is worthy of more stripes then the one who did not know the master's will. He must have committed the greater sin. I believe that Matthew 11:20-24 teaches that the cities where Jesus ministered were guilty of greater sin than cities like Sodom, Tyre and Sidon in the past. God considers some sins to be greater and therefore other sins to be lesser in deserving punishment.
Sins are also greater or lesser in the harm that they cause. Some sins bring greater reproach to God (2 Samuel 12:14). Others bring more harm to others (1 Thessalonians 4:5-6). Others are greater or lesser in their natural results. Fornication may bring diseases that do not go away. Other examples can be given. All sin is evil. However, the Bible definitely makes a distinction between sins many times.
However, this is not to condone the Roman Catholic teaching of venial and mortal sins. Venial sins are those that can be forgiven in this life and mortal sins are those that must be paid for in a future life. Some teach that the mortal sins will send the person to hell unless they are confessed before death. There are variations of the teaching. This false teaching can be used to support the arguments for purgatory. People need somewhere to take care of mortal sins. The mortal sin deprives the soul of sanctifying grace. The venial sin does not. This is false teaching and is not found in the Bible in any form.