Home Outreach Leaders Articles for Outreach & Missions We Are Equally Sinful. We Are Not All Equally Broken or Toxic

We Are Equally Sinful. We Are Not All Equally Broken or Toxic


Admittedly, this post about sin and brokenness will be as uncomfortable as its title. But, then again, counseling is about very uncomfortable things. The concern I want to discuss is the tendency to assume that biblical principles like those found in I Corinthians 10:13 mean that all our struggles carry the same weight. The unintended consequence can be that abusive relationships receive the same counsel as garden-variety arguments, and instances of low impulse control receive the same guidance as manic episodes.

We’re All Equally Sinful

Let me begin with the first sentence of the title: “We are all equally sinful.” Whatever distinctions we make later in this post in no way imply that anyone needs Jesus-on-steroids or a double dose of atonement. There are no varsity and no junior varsity sinners. We are all in the same league (i.e., sinful) and in need of the same Savior (i.e., Jesus) by the same means (i.e., repentance and faith). I fear that, because we want to make sure people understand this paragraph, Christians can neglect to make the kind of assessments discussed below.

There Are Differences

Now let’s move to the second sentence of the title: “We are not all equally broken or toxic.” As I am using these terms, “broken” would refer to things for which we do not bear moral responsibility but create unique challenges for us, and “toxic” would refer to persistent patterns of sin that not only harm others but we punish others if/when they bring them to our attention. From the opening paragraph, the person whose body involuntarily cycles between the extreme highs of energy-grandiosity and lows of depression would be experiencing the “brokenness” of bipolar (not just garden-variety moodiness), and the person who verbally and physically intimidates his-her family and punishes them if it is brought up is exhibiting the “toxicity” of being abusive (not just garden-variety rudeness).

In either case, we as biblical counselors would need to be equipped to make the necessary assessments (not just acknowledge that such cases exist) and provide the kind of counsel that fits the situation. If we get lost in the “they’re no more of a sinner than I am” logic (which is true), we will be prone to neglect the unique, acute care that each situation—or others like them—would require.