After the first blush of sin comes its indifference.
~ Henry David Thoreau
We’re looking at what are the seven deadly sins today. But more than that, I want to discuss why they’re important on a personal level.
The seven deadly sins are most often associated with Christianity and more specifically the Catholic Church and the Catholic faith. However, I believe that these 7 deadly sing are also important on a personal level for all of us.
Because these seven deadly sins also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins are good guidelines for living a good, honest or ethical life, and you will likely find that all the great faiths admonish activity or lifestyles that are associated with these 7 deadly sins.
The Seven Deadly Sins
Lust as most of us know is excessive desire or thoughts of a sexual nature. Pornography and other vices are associated with lust.
Along with the 7 deadly sins or vices as they are often known in Catholicism is the opposing virtue or the correct was to act. The opposing virtue to lust is chastity.
Chastity has become almost synonymous with sexual abstinence but that is not the full meaning of it. Chastity is rather sexual temperance and appropriate sexual and physical beahviour. As a husband and wife can engage in sex and still be thought of as chaste.
Gluttony as most of us know is the excessive abuse and misuse of food and drink, but it can mean the excessive use of anything that leads to waste. Most often it is however, related to food and drink.
The virtue opposite of gluttony is temperance. Temperance is best thought of as moderation. Moderation in action as well as thought. Living with restraint. It is a great virtue and one of my favourites.
Greed is also often known as avarice and covetousness. It is a sin of excess and the excess in this instance being the excessive striving for and accumulation of wealth, power and status.
The opposing virtue of greed would be charity. Charity in this sense is not what we think of today as tithing or giving money to the needy. Rather, charity is a mental state of love and kindness for others which would likely include alms giving and other acts of charity.
Sloth is often considered a less serious deadly sin and a sin of omission rather than excess. Sloth is about laziness and apathy but also about not making use of one’s gifts and talents that you have been given to share with the world.
The opposite of sloth is the virtue diligence. Diligence is assiduous hard work and industry coupled with dedication and patience. The idea that hard work is of benefit on its own not necessarily based on the gain or outcome of hard work.
Wrath is also considered a vice of commission or excess. Wrath is egregious anger and hatred that is very often acted upon. Violence as most of us are aware is often the outcome of this vice.
The opposite of wrath is the virtue patience. Another one of my favourite virtues, patience is the act of enduring under difficult or negative circumstances. In light of wrath, patience would therefor be the act of calm and steady endurance without becoming victim to anger and violent outbursts.
Envy is often a close ally to greed but there is a difference. Greed being the accumulation of goods and wealth, envy is the insatiable desire of goods and wealth that others seem to possess as well as the lust or longing if you will of seeing those who have things you do not have being deprived of those things.
The opposite of envy is the virtue of kindness. Kindness is the act of caring for others by physical or emotional means. Kindness is showing concern and consideration for others and acting with that concern as a point of reference.
Although pride is the last of the seven deadly sins on this list it is often thought of as the original deadly sin as well as the worst deadly sin from which the others spring. Pride is the act of egotistical self love which causes you to see yourself as almost god-like and certainly much better than everyone else.
Dante described pride as “love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one’s neighbour.”
The opposing virtue for pride as you can imagine is humility, one of my other favourite virtues. Humility is acting modestly and respectfully while valuing yourself no higher than others.
Why are the seven deadly sins important
In closing I want to discuss the importance of the seven deadly sins. Or perhaps the importance and value of the seven virtues.
If you take a moment to look around you, you will see that we likely are living in Dante’s Inferno. Dante’s Inferno is part of Dante’s Divine Comedy where Dante strolls through the 9 circles of hell. Many of these circles are related to the above mentioned vices.
The world we live in currently I would argue is a world where the deadly sins are valued if not down right worshiped.
The greed of the bankers recently comes to mind and so does our communal envy. Lust is everywhere especially as seen in common reality shows now that seem to be very popular. Pride is apparent in many people especially those of so called “status”. Gluttony is all around us to with more than two thirds of us being overweight that is most often a cause of gluttony. Most of us are underachieving or giving up on our gifts and talents which is a sign of sloth and with the amount of violence still prevalent in the world and on our streets wrath is very much alive and well.
There is still virtue all around us and this is why knowing about these deadly sins is so important. Knowing the enemy if you will allows us to recognize when we are acting inappropriately and with the guide of the seven virtues we can strive to act better.
This is why on an individual level being aware of the seven deadly sins as well as the corresponding seven virtues is so important. We can practice acting and living appropriately. And honestly, whenever I try to act more with virtue my life seems easier and happier and I find myself more at peace.