And if not, are there any implications for us in a political economy blog? Michael Kruger over at The Gospel Coalition asks the question of whether all sins are the same, and answers no. He notes that both people who take sin serious and those that don’t can come to this conclusion. For the person who takes sin serious,
some Christians use this phrase to uphold the seriousness of sin. It is viewed as a way to remind people not to be dismissive about their sin or regard it is a triviality.
One can certainly resonate with this concern. If all sins separate us eternally from a holy God, there are no “little sins.” But Kruger notes that other Christians want to level out sins such that no sin is worse than another.
Needless to say, this usage of the phrase has featured largely in the recent cultural debates over issues like homosexuality. Yes, homosexuality is a sin, some Christians reluctantly concede. But, they argue, all sins are equal in God’s sight and therefore it is no different than anything else. Therefore, Christians ought to stop talking about homosexuality unless they are also willing to talk about impatience, anger, gluttony, and so on.
You should read the whole post to see his effective refutation of this view, but I’d like to turn this to political economy. I’m always amazed at both political friends and enemies that will tell me that Republicans and Democrats are equally bad–there’s “not a dime’s worth of difference” between them. Let’s leave aside the fact that they really must not believe this, since most of them pay quite a bit of attention to politics.* But in one sense I agree with this. Peter Schweizer has pretty much nailed the personal corruption that affects both parties (see his very discouraging work Throw Them All Out). Yet from a public policy perspective, there really is quite a bit of difference. As conservatives might say, “fear Republicans when they abandon their principles, fear Democrats when they are true to their principles.” Progressives would likely flip the order of the prior statement, but most people think there is quite a bit of difference. Markets seem to think there will be an economic difference between the two parties, as the stock market has rallied significantly since the election. Progressives are still in a deep down post-election funk; they believe that a Trump administration is going to take the country in a radically different direction than its current trajectory. While I agree that the differences in rhetoric between the two parties is often a sharper contrast than the actual policies, I do think there is a huge difference in the policies and the impact to our lives.
So my argument is that just as all sins are not equally heinous, so also all policies are not equally bad or good. Some policies lead more to human flourishing than others, and that necessarily means some politicians and political parties lead more to human flourishing than others. So what do you say?
* If they were truly all the same, I can’t see the purpose of paying any attention to the political process (unless you are a true masochist).