Summary: With the announcement of the Vatican that they were adding to the Seven Deadly Sins I thought it would be a good time to look at sin.
Has anyone been following the series in the Chronicle on the “Seven Deadly Sins?” It started last Saturday along with a report that the Catholic Church had modified the original list and added 7 more. Not sure that I necessarily agree with their selection of new “Sins” or even in their decision to modify the list, but it’s kind of refreshing in an era where some churches are modifying the list down and redefining some behaviour as not sinful.
In case you need to have your memory jogged the original list of seven deadly sins include: Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony and Lust. To that list the Vatican newspaper recently listed seven modern social sins. These “social” sins were given as follows: Environmental pollution, Genetic manipulation, Accumulating excessive wealth, Inflicting poverty, Drug trafficking and consumption, Morally debatable experiments and the Violation of fundamental rights of human nature.
Now without getting picky the last list makes me feel kind of morally superior, which would of course be a violation of the number one sin on the original list, the sin of pride. I just don’t struggle with the new ones. I mean every once in awhile I might get a craving to do a little genetic manipulation but on the broad scope of things I can usually keep that under control.
But the first list, I don’t think there is any one of us who has not at one point or another struggled with those very things. I mean before I became a Christ Follower I didn’t see that list as a list of sins nearly as much as a set of goals.
A little background on the Seven Deadly Sins. This list is not a biblical list, that is not to say that the various sins are mentioned or listed in the bible, but they are never all combined together as one list in the bible. The closest you might come is Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates— no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family. The Seven Deadly sins were originally eight and were defined by a monk by the name of Evagrius Ponticus in the fourth century. In that list sloth wasn’t found but both Sorrow and Discouragement were listed. It was Pope Gregory the Great who formalized the list in the 6th century and it came into popular and common usage after it’s inclusion in Dante’s Divine Comedy in the thirteen hundreds.
However through common usage they have become accepted in a fashion as a part of the make up of the Christian Church. Sometimes they are referred to as Cardinal Sins but are not to be confused with Mortal sins to be a mortal sin in the Catholic church there are three conditions that must be met: 1. It must be of a grave matter; 2. It must be committed with full knowledge that it is a mortal sin; 3. It must be committed with full consent.
And the Catholic Church can also provide a list of what a Mortal sin is: Abortion,
Anger, Adulterers, Amending the words of the Holy Bible, Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, (Eternal sin) Carousing, Cowards, Defrauders, Dissensions, Disrespect towards parents, Drunkenness, Enmities, Envy, Factions, Faithless, False witness (liars)
Fornicators, Greed, Holy Communion received while in a state of mortal sin, Idolatry, Impurity, Jealousy, Licentiousness, Love and practice falsehoods, Male prostitution, Murderers, Polluted, Quarrelling, Sodomites, Sorcery, Strife, Thieves (steal/robbers).
Wow, I think the only think they left out was parking in a handicap spot.
It is easy to point a finger at what we perceive to be “Sin” but the act really is simply a manifestation of sinful thoughts and attitudes, that doesn’t excuse the action. A prime example of that played itself just recently in the news regarding former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer of course was caught in a federal investigation into prostitution and yet while that may be where his sin was revealed it began with a decision to lie to and betray his wife and break his wedding vows. The media had a field day with the story, especially considering that in his previous job as Attorney General of NY and then as Governor it was Spitzer who instigated a number of investigations into Prostitution and enacted tougher legislation aimed at cracking down on prostitution.
It was probably a result of his initiatives that he was caught which proves the truth of Billy Sunday’s words “Sin can be forgiven but stupid is forever.”
Spitzer of course was able to break a majority of the Seven Deadly Sins in one fell swoop. There was pride, in figuring that he would never get caught. Newsday wrote “Spitzer, is either viciously self-destructive or pathologically arrogant, believing he wouldn’t be caught.” There was greed, wanting more, there was envy wanting what wasn’t his to have and there of course was the self evident Lust. For some people his sin was committing adultery, for others it was paying for sex and for some it was simply paying $4,300.00 for sex. But the sin had started in his head and his heart before it moved to the Mayflower Hotel.