Austin Cline, an Atheism Expert, in an article titled “The Seven Deadly Sins: In Theory and Practice” points out that in practice, most churches ignore the seven deadly sins, eliminating even the potential for applying them to the rich and powerful.
By Sanjoo Thangjam
Most of us know that the seven deadly sins are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth, which basically contradict heavenly virtues as we understand them. These types of sins are very well explained in Christianity and has been portrayed in paintings inside old and medieval churches across Europe, as well as in old religious textbooks. It is generally believed that behaviours or habits grouped into this category are deemed wicked.
Ranked in order of least evil to most evil like in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the seven deadly sins are:
LUST — Lust is one of the seven deadly sins. Lust is a term for a strong wanting for something while already having a significant amount of the desired object. Lust can take any form such as the lust for sexual acts, money, or power.
GLUTTONY — Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Gluttony is a term for excessive desire for food, drinks, or items.
GREED — Greed is one of the seven deadly sins. Greed is a term for a strong and uncontrollable desire to have more wealth than is needed.
SLOTH — Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. It is the most difficult sin to explain, since it refers to an assortment of ideas. Sloth is a constant unwillingness to exertion, or laziness. Sloth refers to a person not wanting to work, because of a lack of motivation.
WRATH — Wrath is one of the seven deadly sins. It refers to an intense emotional state involving a strong response to a threat or warning. Wrath occurs when we are threatened, offended, wronged, or denied something we really want or need.
ENVY — Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. It refers to a feeling people get when they want what others have. This is a negative feeling. When someone is envious of someone else, they usually dislike the other person. These emotions are usually caused by a person having a certain object which you want but cannot get.
PRIDE — Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Pride refers to someone who has an exaggerated sense of feeling good. This might mean that someone has no respect for what other people do, only respect for what he or she does. Someone who is described as proud may be arrogant or boastful.
People throughout generations have also noticed that some of these sins are connected. Each of these cardinal sins are known as the ways of not loving God and not loving mankind as much as oneself.
The seven heavenly virtues, also known as contrary or remedial virtues, are those opposite the seven deadly sins. They are often enumerated as chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, kindness, patience and humility. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_virtues)
First enumerated by Pope Gregory I (the Great) in the 6th century and elaborated in the 13th century by St. Thomas Aquinas, they are (1) vainglory, or pride, (2) greed, or covetousness, (3) lust, or inordinate or illicit sexual desire, (4) envy, (5) gluttony, which is usually understood to include drunkenness, (6) wrath, or anger, and (7) sloth. Each of these can be overcome with the seven corresponding virtues of (1) humility, (2) charity, (3) chastity, (4) gratitude, (5) temperance, (6) patience, and (7) diligence, according to https://www.britannica.com/topic/seven-deadly-sins
Austin Cline, an Atheism Expert, in an article titled “The Seven Deadly Sins: In Theory and Practice” argues that Christianity’s famous list of seven deadly sins fails to provide useful guidelines of behaviour in both theory and in practice. She points out that in practice, most churches of today ignore the seven deadly sins, eliminating even the potential for applying them to the rich and powerful. “When was the last time you read or heard of any conservative evangelical churches – usually very vocal about how Christianity is needed for morality – say anything against gluttony, greed, envy, or anger? The only “deadly sin” which most have retained is lust, which might explain why it’s been expanded in so many directions”, he says.
On seven deadly sins In Theory, Cline says that even theory ignores this because these sins focus on people’s inner, spiritual state to the exclusion of their outward behavior — not to mention their impact on others. Cline says that “if you can argue that you possess extensive material goods and temporal power not because of pride or greed, but because God wants you to, then that’s not a sin and you don’t need to change” and adds that in practice, religious authorities rarely apply these standards against the behaviors of the rich and powerful.
“Instead, the seven deadly sins have been more useful in keeping the poor in their place and thus maintaining the status quo. Religion is frequently used to promote ideologies which help people accept their lot in life rather than struggle for something different and better”, he says.
(The writer is a journalist based in Imphal)