A celibate Christmas. It got me thinking about the seven deadly sins: what are they again?
I’m pretty sure those are the famous Seven. And I’m pretty sure I’ve engaged in every one of them at some point in the past. And, you know, I didn’t believe they were sins at all. In fact, I thought these seven qualities were necessary, even good; definitely not evil. That’s because my ego was running the show and what my ego wanted, it got. I was impulsive, impatient, seeking instant gratification, shallow, elitist, and ignorant.
Lust, what could possibly be wrong with that? That’s just admiring another for their sexy qualities and indulging in some harmless play. Well, no, it’s objectifying another person, reducing him to his sexuality and not seeing him as a person with thoughts, feelings, and dreams. It is demeaning both to you and the other person and reduces you to your base urges…in which case you may as well be an animal.
As for gluttony, what’s the harm in over-indulging? Especially at Christmastime when there is so much around us to enjoy? While it’s true that denying ourselves food will not make the hungry less so, when we include intoxicants in this category we see where the harm lies. Overindulging in alcohol can lead to disastrous results including deviant sexual behaviour, neglect and abuse of loved ones, and a flouting of personal ethics and social mores. In many cases it can also lead to death.
How did sloth come into my life? The least effort for the most monetary gain was my motto; work smart not hard, and definitely don’t work for free. I have recently discovered the satisfaction of cleaning my own house when I used to pay someone to do it; of working hard all day and sometimes into the night to complete projects I’d previously procrastinated on; and of volunteer work: being of service to others, reaping no monetary gain but nourishing my soul in many beautiful ways.
And what of envy? I thought it healthy to look upon another with covetous eyes. Inspiring was the way I described my feelings of jealousy. You have what I want so I’ll pretend to be happy for your success when really I want it for myself. Secretly, I don’t believe you deserve that for which I envy you … Be honest; most of the things you envy are material anyway, not at all what God wants for you, but what your ego tells you you need. That’s why soon after you acquire it it loses its cache.
It’s fairly obvious why greed is a deadly sin, but our society often confuses us by encouraging it. Even the so-called spiritual self-help movement (The Secret et al) would have you believe that wanting wanting wanting luxury goods is perfectly natural and ok and here’s what to do to get them. All that wonderful energy could be put into doing good in the world and instead they are encouraging you to use it to obtain a Maserati? No matter how you look at it, that is some faulty philosophy.
In the movie Seven, pride is represented by a model obsessed with her looks. The antagonist slices off her nose (to spite her face) and then leaves her with a bottle of pills (enough to kill her) taped to one hand, and a telephone receiver (to call for help) taped to another. Rather than live with a mutilated face, the girl opts to swallow the pills and end her life.
I’ve put my personal appearance ahead of my spiritual health for a long time. In fact, the better I’ve looked the worse I’ve felt, creating a complete disconnect between my outside and my inside. I’ve worked to change that by being easier on myself, dressing more comfortably, and daring to leave the house without make-up once in a while. I am slowly letting go of the need for external validation based on my appearance and asking to be loved for what’s inside, even by my self.
Wrath: although I’m uncertain about the exact meaning of this one, I have an idea it is about venting your frustrations on others. Letting loose a pile of vitriol on those who would dare to behave in ways that are not what you had in mind. It’s called control and it’s probably the sickest behaviour of all. Wrath’s close cousin is anger which is really a demonstration of powerlessness. Wrath can also be inflicted as retribution for a perceived wrong (the death penalty, for instance).
The opposite of wrath is forgiveness which I now practise every day, especially toward myself.
And in case you were wondering, the Seven Virtues are: