A friend on Facebook asked my thoughts on the question of is there a hierarchy of sin and how God views sin. This is my attempt at an answer.
Here’s my FB attempt at a brief answer to a complex question. Vertically speaking (between us and God), all sins are equally egregious in that they all separate us from God. Horizontally (between us and our neighbor, friends, and family), there exists a hierarchy of sins and temporal punishments for us here on Earth.
In our relationship with one another in the natural world some sins have different consequences, because some sins are more egregious to the entire culture than others. Some Old Testament examples are God told Noah that those who shed innocent blood would die (Gen. 9:6). God gave national Israel a list of prohibitions that required different offerings to make atonement (see Leviticus 1 to 4). Some sins were so culturally destructive (necromancy, false prophesy, child sacrifice, sacrificing to other gods, rape, incest, murder) that they required death (Ex. 22:20, Lev. 27:29, Lev. 20).
The reason was that God knew that if these sins were allowed they would be so culturally destructive that it would destroy the society. In essence, God gave a hierarchy of sins for us dealing with each other here on Earth so that we could live in a semblance of justice with one another. These sins were also not allowed to be practiced since it made the Israelites live like a “peculiar people” and “a holy nation” (Deut. 14:2). Every modern society practices this in that our laws have different levels of punishment for different crimes. Crime is crime but some crimes have greater penalties.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 to 7) Jesus clarified that we who are religious have all broken the second tablet Laws (10 Commandments list 6 to 10). We are all equally fallen and in need of redemption. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). In our relationship with God all sin is effectively equal in that they all cause separation. We need to repent of these sins and to come to Christ who saves us from our sins and establishes us in his perfection (Matthew 7). The Goal of Christ is to transform us in to a “peculiar people” and a “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9) that reflect the Kingdom of God.
Did this help?