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I've noticed in some answers and comments the sentiment that whether an act is sinful or not is always cut-and-dried.

Does this mean that in all the ways the various denominations of Christianity differ that their interpretation of sins is not among them?

Or what would some examples be where something is not a sin in one branch of Christianity but is a sin in another?

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Yes, obviously, since there are different views on which laws apply to Christians in the first place. –  dancek Sep 6 '11 at 8:22
    
I also thought it was obvious before reading comments that clearly suggest whether something is a sin or not is always apparent. Therefore I have to ask for clarification. –  hippietrail Sep 6 '11 at 8:24
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I think the more general variation between denominations is answered by the question, "Who decides what actions fall into the categories of agreed upon." The single biggest difference between Catholics and Protestants / Orthodox is this - is it private interpretation or ecclesiastical authority? –  Affable Geek Dec 8 '11 at 17:09
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2 Answers

Yes, actually there is at least one significant variance.

Some hold that you must have full knowledge of the law that you are breaking (that something is a sin) in order for such an act to be sin.

Others hold that sin, whether you know it as such or not, it always sin.

A third view says that sin is a state of being that we are born with, not specific actions. Actions maybe sinful insofar as they carry out the will of the sinful nature -- and perhaps how punishable those actions are might depend on our knowledge of right and wrong.

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There is a tremendous amount of agreement across all denominations that certain actions are always sinful: murder, adultery, idolatry, blasphemy, etc.

There are also a number of actions that are viewed differently by the various Christian traditions. (This list is nowhere near complete...)

  • Baptist denominations generally believe it is wrong to drink alcohol except for medicinal purposes.
  • The Roman Catholic church teaches that birth control is wrong.
  • I have heard some individual pastors teach that "rock music" is always sinful.
  • There's a song titled If Your Hair’s Too Long, There’s Sin in Your Heart. While it's intended to be comedy, all good comedy is funny because it's based in truth (not that I personally think long hair is a sin, but I have known people who did).
  • Seventh Day Adventist hold church services on Saturday instead of Sunday.
  • Many Church of Christ churches do not use musical instruments.

I'm not sure all of those things are considered "sin" by the groups that avoid them, but if you look at the differences between traditions, you'll be able to find more areas where they differ on their understanding of what is considered sinful.

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Long hair on men, I presume? I've heard others say that short hair on women is a sin... I also have relatives who believe facial hair on a man is sinful. –  Flimzy Sep 6 '11 at 13:44
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@Flimzy Do they also have drawings/paintings of Jesus with a full beard? :-) –  jimreed Sep 6 '11 at 21:20
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