By Joan Whetzel
The 7 Deadly Sins are considered offenses that are lethal for one’s religious, and devotional practice as well as to one’s soul. Most people commit such sins on a daily basis without even thinking about it. They are a set of negative values that everyone should avoid and try to counteract with the 7 Virtue s – considered positive qualities, righteous actions, and morals.
The Deadly Sins and the Church
According to early Christian teachings, the list of the 7 deadly sins were used to educate followers about fallen man’s tendency toward sin. The early church went on to create a separate sin into two categories: venial sins and capital sins. Venial sins were those that could be forgiven without the sacrament of confession. Capital sins were the deadly sins, so named because they had a deadly effect on one’s spiritual wellbeing, basically letting followers know that commission of theses sins was equivalent to a one-way ticket to hell. Unless they went to confession and obtained absolution.
The 7 Deadly Sins and the Bible
The Bible describes the seven deadly sins in Proverbs, Chapter 6, Verses 16 to 19 (New Inspirational Version):
16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers
This list, however, is a bit different from the list or the 7Deadly Sins created by the early Christian church, covering such sins as pride, lies, murder, planning evil acts, committing sins quickly without thinking, and creating strife. Basically, the Deadly Sins are not found in one place in the Bible, but are identified and described throughout the bible, in both the New and Old Testaments. In addition, “The Catechism of the Catholic Faith” has an entire section on the Catholic Church’s current standings on the 7 Deadly Sins, which could be a valuable resource in understanding these sins and what they mean.
The Deadly Sins and Their Opposing Virtues
The 7 Deadly Sins are: pride, avarice or greed, envy, wrath or anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth. Their opposing Virtues are humility, generosity, love, kindness, self control, faith and temperance, and zeal.
· Pride is seen as vanity and a competitive nature, always trying to be better than everyone else. One way to know if you are suffering the sin of pride is to notice whether you are always looking out for your spot in the pecking order. The opposite behavior or Virtue, Humility, involves seeing yourself as you are, not comparing yourself to others, and realizing that no one is better than anyone else.
· Avarice or Greed not only wants more money, it wants all the credit and praise, or at least a larger portion than anyone else. Greed and Avarice also give praise, credit, money and gifts with the expectation of a return on the investment – usually with interest. The opposing Value, Generosity, means giving gifts without expectations of a gift being given to them; giving money without expecting the “loan” to be paid back; letting others receive the credit or praise.
· Envy resents others when they receive something good, such as a monetary windfall, a loving significant other, great children, and well-deserved accolades. It may be impossible to tell apart from pride. It’s opposing Virtue, Love, actively seeks good things for other people, and applauds their successes and accomplishments.
· Wrath or Anger, tends to be our first response when reacting to the problems we have with others. Impatience with others’ faults is closely related. The opposing Virtue, Kindness, reacts with a more gentle attitude, responding with patience and compassion.
· Lust is an unrestrained and self-destructive compulsion for pleasurable experiences and enjoyment of things (sex, power, image, expensive houses and cars, the corner office) for the sake of being in a perpetual state of enjoyment (being a pleasure junky). The value placed on these pleasures is usually out of proportion with their true value or worth, and as such, desire for these things can get out of control in a big hurry. The opposing Value, Self Control, involves preventing pleasure seeking from suffocating one’s sole through the art of self mastery, which only goes after legitimate pleasures (laughter, good relationships, doing a good job) and effectively controls other pleasures (rich foods, fun activities, occasional small luxuries, sex within marriage),, without hurting others, yourself, or your reputation and finances.
· Gluttony means enjoying food and other pleasures – like entertainment, the company of others, and goods (both necessary and luxury) – without any limits. Temperance and Faith balance the need for life’s pleasures placing limits on them, leaving us the room and resources to take care of our responsibilities.
· Sloth is the effect that the other sins take on our spirit, which deaden our spirits and make us slow to respond to God’s call on our lives. Sloth eventually causes us to drift into complacency. Zeal is the Virtue that kicks us in our complacency, reawakening or spirit, and causing us to answer God’s call from an enthusiastic heart.
DeadlySins.com. The 7 Deadly Sins.
Keep Ten Commandments. The 7 Deadly Sins.
White Stone Journal. The 7 Deadly Sins.