The Seven Deadly Sins
I was driving in my car and heard a snippet of a news report about a study that was conducted of "Catholics and the Sins They Confess." In case you have forgotten the seven deadly cardinal sins are: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. The study revealed the most common sins to which men and women confess.
I am not Catholic so I can’t profess to have expertise in these matters, but I imagine these early Christian vices are still carry weight. You may or may not consider some of these concepts to be sins. Heck, you might even value some of them. We all relate to these terms in different ways and they hold their own levels of importance and value to us. While we may subscribe to one over another, I am guessing we all have some familiarity with these behaviors
Socrates and pretty much every practicing therapist believe the unexamined life is not worth living. Therapists consider that being aware of your beliefs/values/habits/behaviors provides opportunity for reflection and possible change. You can’t change what you aren’t aware might benefit from some improvement.
In the study men most often confessed to lust and gluttony. Women to pride and envy. I have a few observations about those findings and I welcome your thoughts. Do you think these survey results line up with your own behaviors?
I am not entirely sure why men favor lust and gluttony rather than pride and envy, but it does make sense to me why lust and gluttony and pride and envy go together. If you are lusting after someone or something, chances are some of the time you will not be able to fully realize that lust. Gluttony, on the other hand, can more easily be totally realized. In fact, it is often over realized which is one reason why we have an obesity problem. It makes sense to me that if what you lust after what you cannot obtain you might want to satiate yourself other ways. And what is under realized in one arena is often compensated for by being overdone in another. In Psychology we call that compensation. Many a person has drowned their sorrows in over abundance of one sort of another. Retail therapy and drinking/eating to excess wouldn’t be such a thing if people were more satisfied with their lives in other domains.
If you are prideful and take considerable pleasure in yourself it makes sense that you would be envious of others achievements. As you are driven to obtain goals to feel good about yourself you very well could be envious of others who have achieved more. While we all can take pride in our accomplishments, I imagine it becomes worthy of confessing as a sin if it is out of balance. Of course, many people are taught as children not to be prideful. So, for those people any amount of pride can be too much. One person’s sin can be another’s acceptable measure of self-esteem. Yet pride can have a dark side. It can make you less aware of and sensitive to others who do not have the same bragging rights. It can also make you a bit of bore to listen to and it can blind you from other aspects of your being that are not so available to your pride.
Certainly many men are prideful and envious and many women have lust and gluttony on the top of their list. I think of these terms (and most things) on a continuum. They all fall somewhere between 1 and 100 on our own lists and over time they move up and down although I am sure some people hold pretty steady. We all have degrees of each sin and perhaps the degree we have doesn't really meet the sin threshold. Some might say even 1% of any of these is a sin, in which case I know a lot of sinners. I tend to be a bit more lenient in labeling/name-calling and probably wouldn't be calling these sins in small occasional doses. But, even occasional dabbling in some of these areas can cause harm to your own integrity and self-worth. I will let you be the judge of that.
I will leave you with this thought. Back when the Seven Deadly Sins were conceived they probably were concerned with a goal of people living a life of integrity, meaning and value. Those ideals are still alive today. You might want to ask yourself how you are doing in the Seven Deadly Sin departments and if there is anything you need to do to help you feel better about yourself. Whether you are committing sins or just not living up to your own ideals, if you can admit or confess your truth to yourself there is the chance for redemption. You can't mend what you do not acknowledge needs mending. When you admit your truths to yourself (and others if you choose), you open the door to making your own amends.