Monday, November 06, 2006

Seven Deadly (Inward) Sins

The situation of Rev. Haggard somehow made me think of the Seven Deadly Sins, which I was able to look up on, see below. "Sin" is not listed in two encyclopedias I consulted.

The ancient Christians came up with this list that is certainly relevant in any era. It is interesting to me that it isn't exactly a parallel to the Ten Commandments, although several of these are are about "coveting" what others have.
Luther's explanations of the commandments explain not only what we are NOT to do, but also what we are TO DO. In that way, I find them a good summary to think of when I confess my sins of omission on Sunday mornings.

The short explanation of the Seven Deadly Sins, as listed below, shows that each has a spiritual dimension. They are sins that happen primarily within ourselves, in our own minds and hearts and spirits. In a superficial sense, they don't hurt other people, at least not in the short run.
I am also struck by the correspondence of these sins to the values that are encouraged in contemporary American culture. They may, in some respects, be the fuel of our economy. These Sins can put us on an unhealthy treadmill we can't escape, and which leaves us no time for Sabbath and spiritual reflection.

How do our American churches encourage these "values?"

Pride is excessive belief in one's own abilities, that interferes with the individual's recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is also known as Vanity.

Envy is the desire for others' traits, status, abilities, or situation.

Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires.

Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.

Anger is manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury. It is also known as Wrath.

Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called Avarice or Covetousness.

Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work.


  1. One of the best reflections I ever read on the 7 deadlies was written by Dorothy Sayers (either in Letters to a Diminished church or in Creed & Chaos). There is so much wisdom passed on to us over the centuries about the 7 deadlies, it is really a shame that we don't talk about them more often.

  2. My sermon series for Lent this past year was on the 7 deadlies, offering with each the diametrically opposed virtue. It got a pretty good response.


And what do you think?