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The Seven Deadly Sins

Author: Lena Santos

Religion, in any form and any concept, is steep with traditions. It is also steep with individualized interpretation of each own “Book” of Truth. Christians have the Bible as a guide to their spiritual lives. Since there are numerous Christian sects, there are probably as much differences in the interpretation of the Bible.

According to Christian belief, all men are sinners. The way to salvation and everlasting life differs for believers of various Christian sects. There are believers who are fixated with the different types of sins (moral and venial) that it takes the “joy” out of their lives. There are those who dwell on what is good knowing that whatever sin they commit will be lovingly forgiven by God – over and over again as long as they ask for forgiveness every time. There are those who believe that sin is “sin” and cannot be classified according to man’s discretion.

The Bible does not expressly enumerate the seven deadly sins. If we were to be very precise, there are more than seven sins written in the Old and New Testaments. Who started this seven deadly sins dogma?

The beginnings of the belief of the seven sins started with the work of a 4th century A.D. monk named Evagrius Ponticus. (The name is legit and I did not source it from J.K. Rowling.) According to the writings of the monk, the seven sins were: gastrimargia; porneia; philargyria; lupē: orgē; akedia; kenodoxia; and hyperephania which when translated to Latin for Roman Catholicism are as follows: Gula – gluttony; Fornicatio – lust; Avaritia – greed; Tristitia – despair; Ira – wrath; Vanagloria- vainglory and Superbia - pride

Pope Gregory I revisited the seven sins in AD 590. He dropped some and added some. Though Pope Gregory and Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) of the Divine Comedy fame never met, the two were in consensus about the seven sins. When they became “deadly” is unclear. The Seven Deadly Sins as taught in Roman Catholic catechism are the following:

  1. luxuria – extravagance/lust

  2. gula - gluttony

  3. avariti- avarice/greed

  4. acedia- acedia/discouragement which was later changed to sloth

  5. ira- wrath

  6. invidia- envy

  7. superbia- pride

The classification of sins is not limited to the sins per se as whatever consequence is brought on by one of the seven sins is an offense too and you must suffer the consequence. The early Roman Catholics were very descriptive and explicit with the seven sins and their corresponding punishments. A 16th century engraving depicted a corresponding animal for each sin. If you are lustful, you’re a cow. If you are envious, dog, stop it. You are a pig if you eat too much.

A book written by Ernst and Johanna Lehner described that greedy people will be put in a cauldron of boiling oil. Pride should be broken on a wheel. Envious ones should be frozen like ice. Angry people should be dismembered, alive! The sloths should be thrown in a pit filled with snakes. Those who are lustful are dealt with typically – smothered in fire and brimstones. Brimstone is sulfur in case you are wondering.

Also in the 16th century a German bishop Peter Binsfeld associated each sin with its own patron demon. Lucifer was the demon behind pride; Mammon was for greed; Leviathan was for envy; Lust was for Asmodeus; Beelzebub was for gluttony; Satan or Amon was for wrath and Belphegor was for sloth. The names of the demons were mentioned in parts but not as one whole list in the Bible.

Seven Deadly Sins According to Roman Catholicism

Lust – Lust need not only pertain to sexual desires or perversion. It is also relevant to a self-destructive drive for pleasure which is not proportionate to its worth. A person could lust not only for sex but for also for power, pleasure, fame and money. There is nothing wrong with aiming for these transient and worldly endeavors but when it has become self-destructive and self-consuming, then it becomes “lust”.

Pride – Pride is an individual’s extreme belief with himself. He believes that all his successes and achievements are all due to him and none is attributed to God’s grace or in a lesser level, to other people who helped him along the way. Pride is vanity and it has been called as the root of all sins.

Envy – Envy is sometimes interchangeable with pride. However envy leans more on resenting the good fortune or accomplishments that others receive or in the process of receiving. Envy can also be defined as a person’s desire for another person’s abilities, status, situations and traits. An envious person is

Gluttony – The word typically pertains to an excessive indulgence to food and drinks. However, seen from a different angle, gluttony is a first cousin of lust. Anything that is consumed in excess to the point of being wasteful and to the extent of being ridiculous is gluttony.

Greed – Greed is about wanting more, more and more. Greed is excessive and the horrific sentiment of not being content with your fair share.

Sloth – It is another term for laziness, idleness, indolence, apathy or indifference. The other six sins work together to stifle a person’s spirituality or his relationship with God. A sloth becomes slow in responding to God’s will and as time goes on is deep in a world of self-righteousness.

Wrath or Anger –This sin is more on uncontrolled rage directed at someone else. The anger could be so deep that the emotion remains even when the object of the wrath is dead and gone. Anger is self-consuming and self-destructive. Some say the suicide is the ultimate manifestation of self-hate.

Seven Virtues

Religion does not have to play a part in the recognition of the seven sins. The truth is that the seven sins are not contained in the Christian world alone. Having said that, then the seven virtues should also be recognized as the “antidote” of the seven sins. Let us bring in humility, generosity, love, kindness, self-control, zeal and faith and temperance in our lives.

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