A silly political question

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Feb 28 2021 5:59 PM

Yes, a Facebook political question made me wonder - has anyone seen a popular religion list of sins is order of seriousness? I promise to treat all candidates with the same level of skepticism as I really don't care about the content of the lists; I care whether or not they exist and are taken seriously.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 28 2021 6:38 PM

Probably out of an abundance of caution on your part, your question is a little too vague for me to get the gist enough to search for it, but I think this post could present a slippery slope and get out of hand quickly (unless I am misunderstanding), so in the words of someone for whom I have the highest respect and who frowns on such:

MJ. Smith:
Faithlife is not the platform for such discussions. If you don't see why for your own behavior, consider it your responsibility to not lead others into saying what does not belong here.

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Feb 28 2021 10:19 PM

You may treat it as a yes/no question -- have you seen a contemporary list that tries to rank sins by severity? That is literally all I want to know as the question I want to answer is political but the other side of the issues implies the existence of such a list which, frankly, I have not seen.

My apologies if I was too vague but I wanted to make it clearly that I have no interest in the content of any such lists and no one need post the contents as that is irrelevant. I appreciate your concern which is well-founded and tried to take it into account in framing the question. Unfortunately, this is the only group I know with a sufficiently broad range politically and theologically to give me the answer.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 3:59 AM

MJ. Smith:
You may treat it as a yes/no question -- have you seen a contemporary list that tries to rank sins by severity? That is literally all I want to know as the question I want to answer is political but the other side of the issues implies the existence of such a list which, frankly, I have not seen.

Ah, got ya.  I have not seen it, nor could I find such a list.  Most searches bring up the seven deadly sins.  What was the context under which you heard about the list?  Did someone mention it?  

If it was on Facebook, I wonder if they have deleted it.  I tried several searches for it.

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

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David Ames | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 4:58 AM

MJ. Smith:
  has anyone seen a popular religion list of sins is order of seriousness? 

Have not seen that list but one church that I know of had a list of the commands of God and what God allowed ranked.

[I do not have a copy of that list]

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 5:28 AM

Staying strictly within your question, I think 'sin' implies religion, and 'popular' implies secular? I only mention because I suspect secular defines differently.

To illustrate unpolitically, it's pretty obvious how assyrians ranked 'sin', just seeing the usage, but the ranking is common between secular, and the gods (as also the greeks).

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David Wanat | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 7:16 AM

interesting question.

Outside of a list of the sins that cry out to God for vengeance, I’m not aware of any ranking list. Speaking as a Catholic, I do know that Popes have spoken about the right to life (which is more than just abortion) is the first right. So, presumably, sins that violate it must rank high.

Personally, I tend to think that the deadliest sin is the mortal sin that we’re unrepentant over, not the mortal sin that we would never commit.

Hopefully my answer hasn’t violated any rules here.

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David Thomas | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 7:30 AM

MJ. Smith:
has anyone seen a popular religion list of sins is order of seriousness?

https://www.logos.com/product/16424/respectable-sins-confronting-the-sins-we-tolerate also has a discussion guide and audiobook in the Faithlife stable.

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Justin Gatlin | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 7:47 AM

David Thomas:

MJ. Smith:
has anyone seen a popular religion list of sins is order of seriousness?

https://www.logos.com/product/16424/respectable-sins-confronting-the-sins-we-tolerate also has a discussion guide and audiobook in the Faithlife stable.

That was a pretty good book, but it was not really a listing. It was a chapter on "gossip," one on "complaining," etc., illustrating the harm of things that don't give us a visceral reaction.

I have never seen a list like that or heard of one. I guess some ranking is implied when Jesus talks about the weightier matters of the Law (or His discussions on when breaking the Sabbath is not breaking the Sabbath), but I've never heard of anyone trying to generate a ranking. Also, I guess you could do something with the penalties things carried in the OT: murder, blasphemy, and kidnapping carry the death penalty and so are "worse" than theft, assault or perjury. 

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Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 7:49 AM

The seriousness of the sin depends on which group of Christians/individuals you are asking.  For example, there are many pro-life Christians for whom support for abortion would be the worse of sins.  There are others for whom a pattern of infidelity or sexual sins would be the worse.  For some, the stealing of money is top of their list.  Some would not vote for someone who belonged to a non-orthodox sect, such as the Church of Latter Day Saints.  No doubt the list of worse sins is endless.

I think the Bible seems to put pride near the top of the list.  Proverbs 6:16-19 is a pretty good list, though not a ranking in priority.

I think we generally rank as worse the sins that we ourselves struggle with.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

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Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 9:22 AM

MJ. Smith:

has anyone seen a popular religion list of sins is order of seriousness?

We used to have a “list of sins” in our confirmation classes for the 14-15 year old kids for a couple of years. The assignment was to put them in the severe / serious order (an empirical test, though not a “scientific” one). The "list of sins" was a gambit to the handling of the topic of sin in our confirmation classes.

The sins to be ranked were: idolatry, disrespect, gossiping, murder, selfishness, excess, anger, scheming, envy, ruining reputation, infidelity, pride, laziness, gluttony, heavy drinking. (So not exactly the seven deadly sins, but rather a conglomerate from the Decalogue and other “sin-lists”…)

If my memory serves me correct, the results among Finnish North-European teenagers were pretty much the same: Murder was deemed the most serious sin. Then came scheming, ruining reputation etc. Heavy drinking and infidelity was also on the top of the list (infidelity defined not strictly within the bounds of marriage [they usually marry 10-15 years afterwards] but also in other relationships in general).

The least grave sins among teenagers were always idolatry (perhaps difficult to understand for fairly secular teenagers) and pride. In fact many teenagers deemed pride a good thing (perhaps a generational difference between older generations and the Y- and Z -generations and millenials).

Finnish (North-European) teenagers attending confirmation classes come from a fairly secular background. In 2020 of the total number of 15-year olds (both members of churches and non-members, age group total74 per cent (!) attended the confirmation classes conducted by our majority church. (The more religious families send their kids not to the confirmation classes of ordinary Lutheran parochial parishes but to the confirmation classes arranged by many intra-church “revival movements”, which do not operate strictly along geographical lines but among the principle of like-mindedness on religious issues.)

Mike Childs:

The seriousness of the sin depends on which group of Christians/individuals you are asking. 

Amen to that!

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J. Remington Bowling | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 1:41 PM

I don't know of the existence of such a religious list, but an ordered list of harms in terms of seriousness might not be as silly as one might think in ethical theorizing. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any that would be specific enough to list particular actions. But I don't think you'd have to do too much digging to find sorting for kinds of actions. Lots of utilitarians have tried to propose algorithms for such a sorting. And John Rawls (who was rather anti-utilitarian) offers his own schema in A Theory of Justice, if I remember correctly. (And if I'm not remembering correctly, he certainly offers a lot of ground work for anyone who might want to propose such an ordering--e.g., indifference curves and what not.)

I don't suppose there's any reason a Christian couldn't try to do something similar with ethics. 

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Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 1:52 PM

MJ. Smith:

has anyone seen a popular religion list of sins is order of seriousness?

How about Dante Alighieri's view of hell with it's circles spiralling down all the way to the gravest sins and sinners at the bottom..?

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 3:23 PM

DMB:
Staying strictly within your question, I think 'sin' implies religion, and 'popular' implies secular?

Interesting perspective which makes me rethink terminology I've used for years in terms of if I am understood outside the group of friends I use the term with.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 3:38 PM

Joseph Turner:
Ah, got ya.  I have not seen it, nor could I find such a list.  Most searches bring up the seven deadly sins.  What was the context under which you heard about the list?  Did someone mention it?  

It was in the context of a discussion on equality where the reasoning "person A engages in sin A therefore I don't need to give person A equal treatment as I can't condone A" .... so what is the list of sins in class A? The question raised was essentially is there a list of sins so heinous as to be A sins or is the list of A sins derived from prejudice rather than heinousness? Yes, the discussion is on Facebook but I doubt if it is public despite the group having several hundred people. And these forums ARE NOT the place to discuss heinous vs. prejudice. However, the responses here have been very helpful to me in sorting out the question especially with regards to sin vs. crime and heinousness /civil punishment. Thanks everyone.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Greg Dement | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 4:04 PM

Probably not helpful but a thought. Although in general the wages of sin is death, what about starting the ranking by sins that are mentioned in scripture with a specific consequence and ranking those consequences.

Below are a couple of scripture quotes for starters, notable that the Romans example pulls in not only those who commit the sin but also those that give approval to those who practice them:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 Ga 5:19–21

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Ro 1:26–32

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Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 5:17 PM

MJ. Smith:

Joseph Turner:
Ah, got ya.  I have not seen it, nor could I find such a list.  Most searches bring up the seven deadly sins.  What was the context under which you heard about the list?  Did someone mention it?  

It was in the context of a discussion on equality where the reasoning "person A engages in sin A therefore I don't need to give person A equal treatment as I can't condone A" .... so what is the list of sins in class A? The question raised was essentially is there a list of sins so heinous as to be A sins or is the list of A sins derived from prejudice rather than heinousness? Yes, the discussion is on Facebook but I doubt if it is public despite the group having several hundred people. And these forums ARE NOT the place to discuss heinous vs. prejudice. However, the responses here have been very helpful to me in sorting out the question especially with regards to sin vs. crime and heinousness /civil punishment. Thanks everyone.

That makes more sense now.  Thanks for clarifying!

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Mar 1 2021 6:42 PM

Olli-Pekka Ylisuutari:
Finnish (North-European) teenagers attending confirmation classes come from a fairly secular background. In 2020 of the total number of 15-year olds (both members of churches and non-members, age group total74 per cent (!) attended the confirmation classes conducted by our majority church.

I had a Grandmother and step-grandfather from Northern Finland ... part of an emigration that gave our small community an Apostolic Lutheran church in which the service was in Finnish well into the 4th generation Americans. What I remember best were the beautiful glass chandeliers brought from Finland sometime in 1870-80's. An amusing story re: the Apostolic Lutheran group -- the pastor of the Apostolic Lutheran agreed to pastor a new ELCA church in a larger town 10 miles away. The ELCA church was English speaking, the pastor a beloved member of the community ... the church did very well. However after his death, one of his grandchildren born in Alberta was taken to an Apostolic Lutheran church in Seattle to be baptized ... no other Lutheran branch would do. Needless to say, I was not sure how to react when I ended up with a daughter-in-law who is an ELCA pastor.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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