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The Seven Deadly Sins - Myths

Updated on June 27, 2016
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GetFactsnotHype has been a Biblical scholar for the better part of 17 years, and has dug deeper to explore Christian facts and expose myths.

Christian Myth #2 in a series - 7 Deadly Sins

Does the Bible mention the seven deadly sins as the worst of sins or are they myths? Are Cardinal Sins part of the seven deadly sins? Are any of these sins unforgivable? What about the NEW list of seven social sins? This page is also found at Blog Directory & Business Pages at OnToplist.com

"7 Deadly Sins"

Introduction on the original 7 deadly sins

What are the "Seven Deadly Sins"? Supposedly, the 7 deadly sins are: gluttony; greed (or avarice); sloth; pride; lust; envy; and wrath, with some claiming vanity as an 8th.

Are these seven unforgivable or will they cause death without a resurrection? We will look at some of them in detail, but it is not necessary to address them all, for the point will be made clear within a few paragraphs. Let's see what the Bible has to say.

Did the original Bible commandments include 7 "deadly" sins?

There were in fact slightly more than 600 commandments originally in Biblical times that were in some Christian faiths narrowed down to 10 (ten), and these ten vary among denominations within Christianity. Many consider the Mosaic Law, referred to as "The Law" to be contained in the first 5 books of the Bible, because there were laws and covenants that existed way before Moses, however one will see Moses' work of the commandments starting at Exodus Chapter 20.

Although the 7 listed above ARE sins, gluttony (for one example) did not make the ten commandments, yet adultery, which encompasses lust did. I suppose gluttony could fall under covetousness, however that can include many things such as: coveting thy neighbor's goods (things); coveting thy neighbor's wife; and even covetousness in the form of hoarding.

Gluttony, like covetousness is much more than one simple statement and is not just the act of eating too much, for it is the over-indulgence or over consumption of food or drink to the point of waste (and even withholding from the needy).

Church leaders and theologians have done a terrible diservice by trying to change Biblical facts while imparting their own opinions on what is and what is not a serious sin or what could be "deadly." In the following sections you will see that even theologians cannot agree on what the list should be or their ranking of importance. If you are interested in viewing a brief description of each of the seven deadly sins first, I've included a link with the list, and although I do not agree with the bottom section, "What Do You Think", I feel the rest of the info may be helpful. This link will take you to the list of 7 deadly sins.

You can always come back here.

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Theologians on the 7 Deadly Sins

Church leaders impart their own opinion of the 7 deadly sins

Theologians have influenced people and not in a good way on their views of the seven deadly sins. A list of eight offenses and wicked human passions in order of increasing seriousness were drawn up by Greek monastic theologian Evagrius of Pontus. Afterwards, Pope Gregory the Great of the 6th century reduced the list to seven combining vainglory into pride with other slight changes, with his list being in order from most serious to the least. That too was contradicted by St Thomas Aquinas who took objection with the ranking of seriousness.

In fact it was Saint Gregory the Great and St Thomas Aquinas of the middle ages that stated other ways in which one could commit gluttony such as: constantly eating of delicacies; eating excessively costly foods; and seeking sauces and seasonings for the better enjoyment of taste, as well as several other guidelines on the issue.

What are Cardinal Sins and are they part of the 7 deadly sins?

Some Christian denominations view the seven deadly sins as cardinal sins, which is further broken down into venial and mortal sins depending on the circumstances. The use of the phrase "mortal sin" sounds strange, because we are all mortals are we not? We are not gods. These denominations have a whole different connotation of mortal sin, being one that is a serious sin, which must be absolved before death by way of confession to a priest and penance. Why do some people put so much weight (no pun intended) on gluttony as a deadly sin or mortal sin (grave sin) when it is not one of the top 10 by other denominations?

I do not particularly take offense with Aquinas or St Gregory's statements, but what I do have a problem with is why they spent a lot of time defining what gluttony is, but "having no other gods before me" does not seem important enough to list as one of the seven. It WAS the very first commandment.

Theologians are not the only ones adding to the myth, for the entertainment industry has done a good job at that as well. (See below in the next section)

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7 Deadly Sins in Pop Culture

Movies and books on the seven deadly sins

Entertainment has shaped our view of Biblical soundness, or has it? Movies and books have certainly done their fair share of distorting Biblical accuracy. It's these untruths that are beheld as truths.

The 1995 movie "Seven" or "Se7en" starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and an early performance by Kevin Spacey as the serial killer John Doe showcases the 7 deadly sins as the reason for the killer's actions. Another movie from the 1950s or 60's titled "The Seven Deadly Sins" also misleads the public. In the 1997 movie, "Devil's Advocate" Charlize Theron helplessly watches her husband (played by Keanu Reeves) succumb to Satan via the ego. Al Pacino (as the devil) states "vanity" is his favorite sin, and almost the entire film focuses on that, so even Hollywood cannot agree on what may be deadly or what the original 7 sins are.

The Plan of Mount Purgatory in the Southern Hemisphere per Dante's "Purgatorio".
The Plan of Mount Purgatory in the Southern Hemisphere per Dante's "Purgatorio". | Source

Geoffrey Chaucer's book, "The Canterbury Tales" discusses the seven deadly sins, as does Dante's "Inferno", which covers four of the seven sins as well as adding in treachery, fraud and hearsay and 2 others to make up what he calls the nine circles of hell. The 9 circles was then covered by the TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in Season 14, episode 1. Dante's 2nd part of the 14th century poem The Divine Comedy was called Purgatorio and again the 7 deadly sins were discussed as relating to suffering and spiritual growth. The plan of Mount Purgatory is located in the Southern Hemisphere with a hierarchy of sorts to reaching the earthly paradise.

Some books on witchcraft and demons goes further and describes each sin with its corresponding punishment in hell, (that's providing you believe in hellfire and damnation - see link here.) The 7 deadly sins has also inspired the art world, seen at this link.

Of course this is not just taking liberty (or poetic license) with the scriptures, but instead is completely made up, just as many church leaders have their own man-made laws. See below for what church leaders are saying today about the seven deadly sins.

Source

7 Social Sins - New Modern Sins

God's laws not good enough and church leaders create their own

A NEW list of seven social sins has been added to the existing seven deadly sins, so we now have an old and a new list of 7 sins. I guess church leaders think they thought of something that God didn't. Do they really think God forgot to include something?

The Bible originally had over 600 laws, and yet church leaders think that's not enough, and that they aren't modern enough either, so they created their own man-made list as if to say the Bible isn't good enough.

In recent times, The Catholic News Agency or CNA reported on their website that a whole new list of 7 social sins, also known as modern sins had been drawn up by Bishop Gianfranco Girotti . For the Bishop to identify them as "modern" sins, sounds too much like the seven wonders of the world, which has been further divided into 6 sets of wonders of the world, and that list can't be agreed upon either. I suppose the Bishop, if he lives long enough will make the 7 deadly sins of the ancient world, medieval world, modern world, natural world, underwater world and industrial world too. WHY does the Bishop feel that he needs to add, revise or adjust Bible laws to make them more modern and who gave him authority to do so? That's a man that has betrayed faith, because he does not believe that the Bible stands the test of time. Isn't that contradictory for a clergymen? Photo: work is my own

In an interview with the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano, (March 2008), the Bishop revealed his new list, seen below.

Bishop's new list on 7 modern sins:

  • "Bioethical" violations such as birth control
  • "Morally dubious" experiments such as stem cell research
  • Drug abuse
  • Polluting the environment
  • Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
  • Excessive wealth
  • Creating poverty

Note that his list includes pollution, and while not protecting God's green Earth IS sinful and morally wrong, it does not need its own designation. There are already scriptures on the environment and stewardship, but I suppose the Bishop and others like him missed those scriptures entirely, so I'm providing a link to that topic on the sidebar at the right.

You can also read more on the additions and ever-changing laws by men on these sins at this article from the Sunday Times in the United Kingdom.

Article original, copyright retained

More info on other sins below.

Source

Suicide and Unforgivable

Is this part of the 7 deadly sins?

Suicide is not part of the seven deadly sins, and although some may say that it could fall under "wrath" (extreme anger), truly there is more to "wrath" than just killing, and likewise killing may not include wrath at all.

Killing is listed as one of the 10 commandments - thou shalt not kill. The Bible however, makes no distinction between self murder or murdering another, except in the case of accidental killing or unintentional killing, which is included below.

What do the Holy Scriptures say in regards to killing?

  • A deliberate murderer - see Numbers 35:30 and 31
  • Unintentional manslayer - see Numbers 35:22 - 25 and Joshua 20:5 and 6
  • Accidental manslayer - see Numbers 35:12 -15; De 19:4 and 5; and Jos 20:2 - 4

Despite the scriptures, which have carefully laid out the types of killing and how those instances were dealt with in Biblical times, many people still say that suicide is the unforgivable sin. This claim is based on the fact that one cannot repent after they are deceased. While the latter part is true, the first part is not entirely true. First of all, nowhere in the Bible does it say that suicide is "the unforgivable sin".

Secondly, repenting (by itself) does not make one in favor with God or provide for a resurrection. Take for example, someone who does something bad today, repents tonight, and goes back out and repeats it again tomorrow. That is NOT a sincere apology, and additionally repenting takes time. You must give real thought to your sin, and try not to repeat it, and take steps to make your paths straight, so simply reciting a prayer and mouthing an "I'm sorry", is not sufficient to exclaim, that one has indeed repented. That being the case, you can see how this also cannot hold true with the claims many have made about suicide.

Murder that lacks wrath

You must also consider that the person who commits suicide may have had mental illness, and so I certainly don't think "wrath" (as listed above) would be the case in this scenario. God is a kind, just, loving God that takes that into consideration, as well as being the reader of hearts. You do not know and I do not know what was in a person's heart prior to murdering one's self, only God knows. There are several scriptures on God being the examiner of hearts and able to discern thoughts and intentions such as: Pr 17:3; 1Sa 16:7; and Hebrews 4:12.

Is There an Unforgivable Sin?

The unforgivable sin is ... sinning against the Holy Spirit. Sinning against the Holy Spirit is when apostasy sets in, or one becomes an apostate. I will further explain. If one comes to know God, learns his ways, and understands what is expected and then turns ones back on God or turns away from Him, then that one is sinning against the Holy Spirit, and there is no forgiveness left. This is much more than just blasphemy. The scriptures talk about this at least twice. The first talks about apostasy at Hebrews 6:4-6. The 2nd talks about sinners against the spirit will not rise and continues with "not in this system of things nor in that to come" (Mt 12:31, 32).

In summary:

The short answer is myth. Neither the original seven deadly sins, with alternate 8th (listed above) nor suicide are written as OR in any way described as deadly sins OR as unforgivable sins. No where does the Bible say this, and it is completely made up by man. As to why those sins were chosen as the 7 is unfounded, and has no scriptural basis.

So who is misdirecting this? Lucifer as Satan OR is his name even really Lucifer? See related reading on Satan Myths, part 3 in the series.

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© 2011 GetFactsnotHype

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    • GetFactsnotHype profile image
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      GetFactsnotHype 4 years ago

      @Jhale Moreno: The movies and books paint the picture that there are 7 deadly sins, and there is no DEADLY sin not in the context of it being a grave sin, or unforgiveable sin. That's the whole reason for this webpage, which dispels the entire premise of sins being "deadly", hence a myth. It was not necessarily ONE particular thing within a movie, just the entire concept. Perhaps you should re-read my section on pop culture which makes for great entertainment on the subject, but awful history and accuracy on the Bible. You may also want to visit the section on WHAT IS the unforgiveable sin. Thank you for visiting.

    • Jhale Moreno profile image

      Jhale Moreno 4 years ago

      I don't see much information about these movies being wrong. Could you please leave information about each movie you found worthy of mention?

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      GetFactsnotHype 5 years ago

      @Rankography: Thanks it's part of a series on myths

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      Rankography 5 years ago

      Nice article and interesting topic. Blessed by an Angel

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      GetFactsnotHype 5 years ago

      @SteveKaye: Wow it's rare people say this topic is fascinating, but I thought so too, and wanted to enlighten people/

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      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      This is a fascinating article. Thank you for publishing it.

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      GetFactsnotHype 5 years ago

      @Wbisbill LM: So nice of someone in the profession to like this page, thanks Wbisbill

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      Barbara Isbill 5 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      A very interesting read. I will link you to my beatitudes lens.

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      Brandon_Vergara 5 years ago

      Awesome info

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      religions7 5 years ago

      @julieannbrady: I don't know about that. If all the world lived as an average American does, we'd need several earths to supply for all that consumption. Not saying you live like the average American, but you still don't strike me as the ascetic type either. (btw - guilty as charged myself)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nature cannot be fooled, it has its own ways of punishing sins and rewarding good deeds. Saints and holy man have experienced it and warned us about the deadly sins. Mankind can keep on analyzing and re-analyzing sins and make thesis on it. Nature's protocols are 100 % computerized and nothing can be hidden from it. Some people call these forces - Almighty and some just call it Divine Nature. The enlighten ones have shown us the path, it is for us to walk on this path.

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      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      "Excessive wealth" is a modern sin? Well, sincerely, there will be no chance that I will have committed that particular sin. But, what about our country's leaders?

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      GetFactsnotHype 5 years ago

      @julieannbrady: @JaguarJulie Yeah exactly.

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      GetFactsnotHype 6 years ago

      @dannystaple: @dannystaple - Glad you liked the page and am happy I could inspire you. As usual you actually read people's pages, not just skim them, and I am thankful for that.

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      dannystaple 6 years ago

      This a really good thought provoking lens - so much so it has inspired me to build what might be quite an interesting lens too. Thanks for the inspiration!

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      GetFactsnotHype 6 years ago

      @Demaw: I am not sure what you are saying here. I agree ancient writers were less creative in CHANGING the message, and YES modern writers do change the message - agreed. That was my point.

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      Demaw 6 years ago

      Just because something was written a long time ago doesn't mean it's accurate. We think ancient writers were less creative in changing the message than modern writers are.

    • compugraphd profile image

      compugraphd 6 years ago

      ×"×

      According to Jewish tradition, there are 613 Mitzvot (commandments) -- and the Aseret HaDibrot (literally the 10 sayings, but colloquially called the 10 commandments) command us to not MURDER -- not, as is often translated, you should not kill.

      But, all in all, good lens.

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      Delia 6 years ago

      Why certain religions make it so hard to be a part of God, I will never understand...Man-made rules in religions have affected many people, had they read scripture they would have found the truth...it's really simple to be a Christian, it's a way of life! and that is a choice...I choose to follow Christ, I choose to be more like Him, do I fail? of course, I'm a sinner and not perfect, but I know He loves me...How great is that!