These days, when you hear talk of the Seven Deadly Sins, they’re often framed as an old-fashioned, cartoonish concept.
Secular society in particular, tends to portray those vices (Envy, Vainglory, Sloth and Greed, Anger, Gluttony and Lust) as ideas that once kept straight-laced, religious people living in unnecessary fear.
But philosopher Rebecca De Young, author of Glittering Vices, says it’s time to revisit the so-called deadly sins. Not so that we become obsessed and fearful of doing the wrong thing. But so that we can reflect on our behaviour, and move towards living better lives.
It’s more than just jealousy or coveting. Coveting is just focused on wanting an object, Envy is when you want the social position the other person has because of it.
Vainglory’s a pretty old-fashioned word nowadays. It relates to excessive desire for recognition and approval from others.
When you hear the word sloth, what picture comes to mind? Is it someone lazing on a couch munching chips and staring at the TV, while the house goes to ruin around them? Well according to philosopher Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, author of Glittering Vices, sloth is much more than just laziness. In fact, sloth is a vice that’s just as easily found in an over-committed workaholic.
Have you ever caught yourself wanting more money when you really have plenty? Or rushing to buy the latest upgrade of some gadget when the one you’ve got works perfectly well? Or putting your love for possessions ahead of your love for people? Could it be that you are caught in the vice of avarice?
Anger can be a good and Godly thing. Jesus got angry, for starters. He famously knocked tables over in the temple when he saw it being treated like a marketplace. And just think, if Martin Luther King Jr didn’t get angry about inequality and injustice, he might never have changed history. But we also know that anger can be misdirected and misused, and that it can cause great harm.
Gluttony isn’t simply a matter of overeating. In fact, super-slim health junkies, could be just as gluttonous as junk-food addicts.
Lust, it’s oversimplistic to look at lust just as a physical sin of the body. It’s actually a problem that’s founded in the heart.