By Jamie Busby
I was brought up in a Christian community and went to a Roman Catholic school. I want to take a look at a small yet incredibly powerful part of the doctrine I experienced.
I imagine we've all heard of the "seven deadly sins". They were the subject of the great movie "Se7en" starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt way back in 1995. Kevin Spacey was the bad guy in case you don't remember; some say he still is.
The movie was based on what we are told are the seven deadly sins of the Bible. However, they were actually not created until the 4th century by Christianity, no doubt in an effort for even tighter control of the masses. As we will see, in their eyes they make each and every one of us a sinner.
They listed these sins as "psychological flaws" yet we shall also see that they are ALL merely expressions of our very human nature. These failings of character have since been considered bad behaviour. Below is the original list of "Seven Abominations" from the Bible according to Proverbs 6:16-19;
- a proud look
- a lying tongue
- hands that shed innocent blood
- a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations
- feet that be swift in running to mischief
- a false witness that speaketh lies
- he that soweth discord among brethren
In all fairness to what the actual Bible states, these are, in the main, traits that we do not like in ourselves and others. I don't think you need to be religious to realise this. "A proud look" could be interpreted as someone who is smug, in my opinion. We all know someone like that, a smarmy self-righteous arsehole.
But these are not the seven deadly sins that we know and fear nowadays... Oh no, these were far too blatant for the Christian church. Nobody likes a liar or someone who violently harms others, "shedding blood".
Nor do we like devious schemers or bullshitters, let alone those that can only be described as "shit-stirrers". The types who tittle tattle behind people's backs, spreading "Fake News" perhaps. Nowadays some might call them 'bitches', be they male or female.
So it can be seen that these abominations were far too obvious; The Christian church needed more nuance. After all, in every parish there is a congregation to keep in check and unless they're all murderous lying charlatans, these guidelines rule out far too many people as being intrinsically GOOD.
No; these "rules" needed to be applicable to everyone in some way, however small. They needed to be within reach of the most pious worshipper, just in case they committed a thought-crime or similar atrocity.
It's time to take a look at what Christianity came up with in the 4th century in order to maintain the flock. We shall briefly analyse each "deadly sin" and apply them to the real world in modern times, thus working out whether we're going up or down when our personal day of reckoning comes... So, in no particular order;
Let's start with something juicy to get our teeth into. This is simply described as the intense desire or need for "something", usually construed to be of a sexual nature. It's also simply the seeking out of pleasure for personal gratification. God forbid we enjoy ourselves.
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28)
As you can see, the Bible wasn't messing around with this one. Just looking at a subject of sexual desire, whatever gender or orientation you are, is considered adultery. Basically, you're a cheat if you've done this. I have to put my hands up, it's a fair cop...
If any consenting adult does not put their hands up to this one then I either don't believe you or you are missing something from the very fabric of your nature as a human being.
Humans, indeed every form of life on earth, is propagated by what we could describe as "lust". Thus, we are all products of some kind of lustful thinking and actions. Most of us are already doomed it seems.
Originally the sin related to excessive eating or boozing. This ties in with "Greed" too, such as having the whole cake instead of just a slice. Or no cake at all... When does eating or drinking reach the invisible tipping point where it turns to gluttony? Full of cake? Tipsy?
I'm sure nobody knows, but it keeps you on your toes. (The rhyming was intentional, my apologies)
Nowadays, it has become all encompassing to include the need to have EVERYTHING. The rampant consumption of anything from the latest iphone to the best 4K HD Television on the market.
And what a world we've created for Gluttony to run riot. Fast food outlets everywhere, take-away restaurants, home delivery apps for your phone, never has it been so easy to be a glutton.
Black Friday sales, Christmas, too much consuming in general makes one a glutton it appears.
However, it would also appear that this will make us a glutton for punishment from God and again, I hold my hands up high. As should anyone else who has ever felt "stuffed", after Christmas dinner for example. Or perhaps "pissed", maybe after (or before) Christmas dinner.
A selfish and excessive desire for anything. Though it usually refers to money and power, in modern times it can be applied to materialism. The reprehensible acquisition of "stuff" for having stuff's sake.
“Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19)
Again, the Bible is very clear on it's version of Greed though it cannot be seen on the original list of "Seven Abominations". I feel that this one has been created from cherry-picked scriptures, such as the verse above.
My hand is up again. If yours is too give yourself a break, this and Gluttony are very similar.
However, I would like to point a large finger at the likes of Big Pharma and the global banking cartels. Their insatiable appetite for profit and power (and control) surely buys them a one-way ticket to Hell. And there are many more I could point this finger at...
In a nutshell, being LAZY. Activity and exertion, be it physical or mental, are not the cup of tea of the Sloth.
“The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19)
Again, this is also not listed in the "Seven Abominations" as such, so those of the 4th century decided they would invent it. I actually feel this one can only be a negative trait. I wouldn't call it a "deadly sin" by any stretch, but laziness does not get anyone anywhere fast in any way.
Much of our fulfilment as people comes from accomplishing things and doing stuff. If you're lazy, you are not going to get much done in any capacity.
This can lead to dependence on others, be it family or the state. There are many reasons why some people struggle with life and need a bit of extra help, but laziness can never be a justified excuse.
However, I think most people have all been lazy at some point in their life. Is it ok if it's just occasionally? Surely nobody can keep going constantly, every waking moment. How much rest is counted as laziness? Nobody seems to know, maybe that's the point, do a lot of activities just in case.
But this is arguably one of the better, more worthy deadly sins. I'll give it a pass, it stays on the list...
Another of the Seven Deadlies that does not really appear in the Biblical "Seven Abominations". Wrath can be defined as fierce, vengeful anger, somewhat vindictive in nature.
Wrath is also the seeking out of revenge as a punishment for making you angry. It's an intrinsic urge to take some sort of vengeance when someone or something annoys you. Maybe from being taken advantage of, being mocked or being harmed in some way.
Wrath can be a reaction to some of the other seven deadly sins. If someone is lusting after your partner, you may become wrathful and seek out ways to "get them back" or put things straight, possibly by means of violence.
Again, I believe this too belongs on the list of seven deadly sins. Wrath serves no-one, it is simply anger with the addition of extra rage. However, yet again my hand is up in the air, guilty as charged. A couple of times.
I struggle to comprehend how anyone could never feel Wrath unless they locked themselves away from people and the outside world. It's all so bloody aggravating.
And the Bible itself does tell us "An eye for an eye...." so although Wrath is not a good thing, it would appear that even God suggests it's the way to go. Sometimes...
This can be defined as the desire to have a quality, possession or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else.
While it may be healthy to personally strive for more, Envy is when you actually begrudge others for what they have and want to take it off them instead of getting "it" yourself! Or just flat out don't want them to have something just because you haven't got it. A very sad state of affairs.
Be careful not to confuse this with jealousy. Envy is all about lacking something whereas jealousy is all about losing something you already have; they may seem similar but are quite different.
A modern example of this is rampant on social media platforms nowadays. People may look at Facebook and see the portrayal of their "friends" having a wonderful life full of wonderful things. This can create a feeling of resentment and even hatred; THAT is Envy.
I must admit, luckily, that I don't think I have ever envied anyone for any reason. I have certainly been impressed by others but I have not felt bitterness about it. I may have thought "I'm going to do/have that" and "Good for them" but never felt Envy. And I am no Saint... Are you?
I did say this list would be in no particular order but I purposely left this deadly sin till last. The one that comes before a fall.
Pride is the intense pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements. This can be accompanied by excessive self-esteem. Nobody likes a bighead but what is the point of doing anything if you don't get to feel PROUD of it, if it is indeed worthy? Plus it's only human nature to feel this way.
However, when this is taken to extremes, people can become total dickheads. They think that the world revolves around them, they are the best at what they do, me me me me....
Nonetheless, without Pride, everything would be crap. Tradesmen would take no "pride" in their work and we would have nothing but rubbish products, buildings, vehicles,etc... People in general would take no "pride" in their appearance and we would all look scruffy and probably smell.
That's the issue I have with Pride on the list, yet again they left out any parameters. They are necessary to let us know when it changes from being healthy into being what makes some people intolerable. Though maybe we should just trust our gut on that invisible line.
The bottom line
That's all 7 deadly sins covered and I have to admit to committing at least 6 of them myself. Some on a fairly regular basis. How much of a "sinner" are you?
With regards to whether they are reasonable rules to live by, I would have to say they are, to some degree. I believe the same to be true of the "Seven Abominations" from the Bible, they make more sense.
But what I refuse to accept is that this is what you will be judged on by "God", whatever God means to you. We are human beings, we have innate tendencies, none of us are anywhere near perfect. And none of us have never sinned. We are told that God is merciful and that we were made in their image; we come into the world this way, faulty by default.
THIS is why the seven deadly sins are a scam. They just happen to cover most of our natural reactions to many unavoidable circumstances that will touch us all. We will all commit these "sins" to varying degrees and in the 4th century, the top brass of Christianity knew this. So they played on it with the creation of the seven deadly sins.
The "Seven Abominations" are actually a much clearer illustration of "right and wrong" but I find myself wondering if we really need to be told any of it. Don't we just learn this stuff anyway (or not) and then choose what we do? Free will and all that?...
The seven deadly sins are nothing more than a religious control technique designed to control people via GUILT; we're all a bit naughty every now and then. They know we will be so it works a treat on their followers; it always will.
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