Degrees of sin

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I have heard members of the Church describe sin in degrees of severity. This is most often prevalent in Gospel Doctrine class when we discuss Alma 39. For example, notice these verses:

>”Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5)

Here, sexual sin ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù which many members assume is what Alma the Younger was referring to when he said “these things”, and which we have debated before ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù is being compared to murdering and denying the Holy Ghost. I have heard it mentioned that sexual sin, therefore, is the third worst type of sin (despite the fact that murder and denying the Holy Ghost could be the same thing.

For the purpose of this post, we will assume that the common traditional interpretations of this verse are correct. That is, there are three degrees of severity when it comes to sin: first, denying the Holy Ghost; second, murder; third, sexual sin.

At the same time, however, God does not accept sin at all. Specifically:

>”For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (D&C 1:31)

So, I wonder then if there really are degrees of sin. By classifying some sins as more abominable, does Alma suggest that God looks on other sins with some degree of allowance. Does he suggest that God will turn somewhat of a blind eye to the less abominable sins?

By saying he does not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, is God saying he views all sin equally?

8 thoughts on “Degrees of sin

  1. In my understanding, there are degrees of sin. But, God can not allow any of it into the celestial kingdom. So you have to repent of any of it,of any of the degrees, before you can be allowed to enter. But Murderers and deniers of the Holy Ghost who don’t will go to Outer Darkness, while let’s say someone who drank there whole life might go to Terrestrial or Telestial. We shouldn’t worry about it too much as long as we obey the commandments and repent to the best of our abilities.

    Also as a side note, “He who sins agains the greater light, receives the greater condemnations” (D&C 82:3) So LDS people know more light or in other words knowledge, so we will be judged harsher because of our greater comprehension of God’s commandments, and people will only be judged on their understanding.

    Again this is all by my understanding. Hope I could help out.

  2. Also as a side note, “He who sins agains the greater light, receives the greater condemnations” (D&C 82:3) So LDS people know more light or in other words knowledge, so we will be judged harsher because of our greater comprehension of God’s commandments, and people will only be judged on their understanding.

    Which isn’t the same thing as varying degrees of sinfulness.

  3. Can I just scream and shout, for the record, that “these things” in verse 5 are boasting and abandoning a trusted position in the ministry?

    Thank you.

    Y’know, my nonmormon Christian friends seem to be getting along just fine with the I-need-to be-equally-saved-from-all-sin strategy. Sure seems to scare us, the consequence of equating adultery with, say, keeping our cars registered cheaply to Utah though we’ve been living in California for seven years.

  4. Perhaps the “degrees of sin” doesn’t mean that God turns a blind eye to some, but that that severity of sins differ. Obviously we need to repent of ALL sins, but the repentance process/discipline would vary from sin to sin. Repenting of gossiping would be easier than repenting of a sexual sin. And repenting of a sexual sin would be easier than repenting of murder and so on.

    So maybe the degrees of sin change how true repentance is brought about. Just a thought.

  5. But dos that mean that God does allow sin to some degrees? If murder is more serious than driving over the speed limit, does that mean he has less allowance for murder than he does speeding?

  6. Severity is inversely proportional to the ease of making restitution.

    Sin, by definition is transgression of a divine law, not any law. Maybe God wants all vehicles to be registered in Utah?

    But any sin is not allowed by God. Consequences and repentance are necessary for all sin, but how God deals with the sinner depends on the severity or degree of seriousness.

  7. how God deals with the sinner depends on the severity or degree of seriousness.

    But if sins differ in their degree of severity or seriousness, then doesn’t that in itself imply that there is also a degree of allowance? Doesn’t leniency by its definition permit allowance? If God does indeed not look on sin with any allowance, then are there really degrees of severity?

  8. Hmmm….

    If we are talking about God the Father alone, then no. Any degree of impurity to God is un-allowable and irreversible. So in that sense, it would all be the same since when the sin is committed, we would be condemned.

    But the atonement mitigates the effects of sin and provides a way out. Depending on the sin, the way out can be more or less difficult. If you accept the atonement, then you would also accept ‘degrees’ of sin.

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