The Outdated Seven Deadly Sins?
Is the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins outdated and irrelevant in the modern age we live in? The Seven Deadly Sins have their roots in the Roman Catholic church, and have earlier connections to the fables and teachings of the ancient world. Most people in the modern world have no real desire to follow the instructions laid out by the scholars and clergy of the middle ages. Are the Seven Deadly Sins now a sort of unofficial guide of how to live and succeed in the modern world?
The Europe of today, is a completely different animal to its medieval self. The morality of the modern world, would have seemed wicked and alien to the people of the medieval Europe with its Roman Catholic indoctrination and domination. The traditional and orthodox Islamic and Jewish faiths have seemed to have kept in line with their ancient morality and teachings. It can be argued that the separation of state and religion, has allowed us in the modern Christian world greater freedoms. But it has come at the expense of discarding the traditional and religious teachings of our ancestors.
The deadly sin of Lust has permeated into our modern lives in so many different ways. On every street corner, you can see most advertising hoardings use sex and desire to sell modern products. In magazines there is photographs of the beautiful people, who are draped over exotic cars to entice us to buy. In television and Hollywood movies we are taught that if you do things the "right way", then you get the beautiful and sexy partner that you have desired and lusted over for so long. Lust now offers you a reward for your endeavour and heroism, a selfless and noble act is now a notion consigned to history.
It can be argued by some with a socialist standpoint, that the deadly sin of Envy is responsible and the fuel for the capitalist society that effectively rules the majority of the globe. Could it be the envy of what others have, is a major factor in why we aspire to accumulate more money and possessions? Is it not our own envy of our friends and neighbour's, which drives us to seek out the better jobs and houses so we can satisfy the hunger of the evil sin envy.
Are the seven deadly sins relevant anymore?
The sin of Greed more than any other can define the modern world in which many of us live, far too many individuals wish to have more than what they realistically need. As the film character Gordon Gecko in the 1987 film Wall Street observes " Greed, for lack of a better word, is good ". Can greed like envy lift us from the confines of religious styled piety? It can be argued that greed teaches us to challenge the notion of settling for less than what we truly desire, and through greed do we not develop a greater sense of personal achievement. Can the sin of greed be the catalyst for change and advancement in society as a whole.
If greed can be argued a sin of productive necessity, then the sin of sloth is greed's polar opposite. Sloth is despised in society as much today, as it was in the time of the apex of church power. The modern world is quick to point out those in society it sees as a burden or the greedy pig that feasts on the charity and nobility of the workers. Not a day goes by without a news story of how a member of society exploits the generosity of its fellow citizens. Sloth is also in my own eyes as bad as apathy. Those who can, but do nothing to arrest the situation are sinners even now. The sin of sloth is still a sin, as deadly today as it was when first highlighted.
The sin of Gluttony is very similar to the sin of greed, but i think the meaning of gluttony has changed in the years since the doctrine of the carnal sins were introduced. Gluttony has in a sense been replaced with the newer sin of addiction. Addiction covers a lot more of what gluttony originally covered and adds in the modern substance abuses and frivolous pursuits which were not as common in the medieval ages. Addiction destroys the lives of those addicted and the family members of the sufferer. Addiction and gluttony are still prevalent today, and still bring us closer to our darkest human nature.
The sin of Wrath is as evil today as it has ever been, wrath inspires the dark part of us to give in to hatred and create a legacy of hurt and pain. Across the world we see the effects even today of wrath, in Africa we see tribal feuds which have existed longer than many can remember. In living memory the country of Ethiopia with its tribal scars, has stopped one of the potentially richest countries from feeding herself and the rest of the continent. Wrath leads to hatred and war, and war destroys the human ability to grow.
The final sin of Pride is very much an outdated sin, if you can take pride in your appearance and achievements is that not the most natural thing in the the world to do. The old saying of " Pride coming before a fall " is often true, but surely only an excessive amount of pride justifies the proverbial fall. Pride is intricately linked with self improvement, and a certain amount of pride in your actions is essential for your own growth and confidence.
In conclusion it can be argued that the majority of the Seven Deadly Sins, are now obsolete. Many of the "Deadly Sins" are now desired and needed to survive in the modern world, whether or not that is desirable is personal opinion. It is only when a "Sin" is done to excess, that it becomes negative or deadly. It could be argued by those who disapprove of heavy religious involvement in peoples lives, that the Seven Deadly Sins were a means of control. By putting up the doctrine of carnal sin, did the church halt the march of progress.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Andrew Stewart