in modern society, we have the term “gateway drug.” it usually refers to marijuana. A gateway drug is considered stepping stone to further substance and greater abuse. likewise, there is a “gateway sin.” i use the term “sin” but it can be termed as a “gateway to troubling conduct.” the “gateway sin” is coveting.
in the oscar winning movie, “silence of the lambs,” fbi agent starling is in search of the serial killer, buffalo bill. in order to find this serial killer, she consults with the infamous serial killer, hannibal lechter. the dialogue is as follows:
What does he do, this man you seek? - He kills women. - No. That is incidental. What is the first thing he does? What needs does he serve by killing? Anger. Social acceptance. - Sexual frustrations. - No. He covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet, Clarice? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer now. No. We just... No, we begin by coveting what we see every day. Don't you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don't your eyes seek out the things you want? All right, yes. ... http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/s/silence-of-the-lambs-script-transcript.html
while this is a fictional event, it explains the concept that coveting can lead to bad or criminal conduct. there are stories in the torah which further document the problem with respect to coveting. adam and eve with the tree of knowledge was an issue of coveting. this led to their sin and disobedience of god’s order. the story of cain and abel had cain coveting the favor that his brother had received from god. this resulted in the first documented murder. therefore, coveting is the gateway commandment for violations of other commandments. coveting can lead to murder, adultery, stealing, and lying.
therefore, the commandment against coveting gets a high ranking. while coveting, in most circumstances, can be benign, coveting plays a large role in greater acts of human.