The Seven Deadly Sins (Or so they say)

Before I get started, I need to give credit to Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good, a non-fiction book written by Corey Taylor (lead singer of Stone Sour and Slipknot). That book is what inspired me to write this. A lot of the ideas I plan to mention in this are also in his book. They’ll have my spin on them, of course, but I’ve got to say that we agree on a lot, in regards to this particular subject. So, if you’ve read the book already, you probably won’t get much from this.

Also, if I offend anybody’s religious sensibilities, that is not my attention. I’m not planning to go on a rant about religion or anything, but it’s somewhat difficult to talk about this subject and not have some overlap.

The basic idea behind this piece is to give voice to my question of why the seven deadly sins are so “deadly”. I’m not an expert on religion, but I am aware the Catholic church divides the seven sins into two different categories, with some being judged worse than the others. I’m not going to get into that. For the purpose of this piece, all seven are being labelled as the single group they are known to the majority of the world as. The Seven Deadly Sins.

First and foremost, I want to state clearly that I do not believe in the seven deadly sins. Well, I believe they exist; I just don’t agree that they’re as bad as the rap they’re given. Much like Corey Taylor pointed out, I firmly believe all seven sins are a part of us. We all feel them, are probably feeling at least one of them at any given moment (except maybe when we’re sleeping). Some of us revel in them, some spend every waking moment trying not to give in to them. Either way, they’re always there.

One at a time, I’m going to go through each sin and tell you why I think it isn’t as terrible, as deadly as we’ve all heard. At the end, hopefully it will all make some kind of sense.

First up, let’s talk about Lust. That’s a popular one. We’ve all felt it. We’ve all lusted after somebody at one time or another. Some of us never stop. Obviously, some people have a better handle on it than others. Some people can’t keep their eyes or their dirty minds off any hottie that walks by. Others are a little less… consumed, we’ll say. But regardless, we all know and recognize it when we feel it.

Lust can make us do terrible things. Don’t get me wrong; all seven sins can drive us to do terrible shit, to friends, family, strangers. Pretty much anybody who gets in our way. I’m not arguing against that. Instead, I’m saying that bad shit is what people focus on. They ignore the fact that sins like lust can drive us to do great shit as well.

Ever done something you never thought you could, just to impress some girl/guy you were hot for at the time? Lust drove you to do it. Is that bad? I don’t think so. You accomplished something you might never have otherwise. Should you burn for it? Fuck no. Lust can facilitate change in us, for the better or worse; that’s really up to you. People have remade themselves for lust, to impress someone, and despite what inspirational movies would have us believe, changing yourself can be a good thing. I know it’s nice to think that people will always love us for who we are, but if we’re dirty, rude douchebags, we might be shit out of luck.

Lust drives us, all of us, to do great and terrible things. If you take that lust and force it on someone, through rape or any shit like that, then yeah, fuck you. Then you deserve to be eviscerated. If lust is all you think about, then it’s a problem. If it leads you to commit crimes against other people, it’s a problem. But if you control it, or rather, don’t let it take over your whole fucking life, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. Certainly not deadly.

Something that I feel is tied, to an extent, with lust is Vanity. Just like people have held themselves to a certain (hopefully high) standard in order to catch the eye of their object of desire, vanity forces us to give at least somewhat of a shit about how we appear. And I don’t mean just to the opposite sex.

Taken to the extreme, vanity can be a terrible (or rather, fucking annoying) thing. Some people are so vain, they think the world revolves around them. And it does not. But they act accordingly, and that can lead to some bad results, for them and others. I won’t go too far into it, but I’m sure you’ve all known at least one person who “suffered” from the vain affliction. And I put suffered in quotes, because to them, they aren’t suffering. It’s the rest of us who have a problem, not them.

Again, don’t get me wrong. While I would very much like to do away with all people who are alike to the description above, I don’t think vanity is necessarily such a bad thing. Like I said before, we all have, and in my opinion need, a certain amount of vanity. If we didn’t have any, we’d all be unwashed, un-groomed losers, sitting in our own filth and picking the bugs out of our long, greasy hair.

I’m vain. I know it. Not to any extreme extent, but it’s there. I won’t wear white shirts. I know they make me look fat. It’s something I just don’t do. I’m not overly concerned with my appearance, but there’s something in me that tells me to skip white shirts. Because even though I don’t care much, I do still care. It’s a fine distinction. And vanity is the reason why.

Vanity can, just like lust, drive us to do great things. If someone thinks they’re the center of the universe, and they see somebody out-performing them in some way, it could drive them to better themselves. And to me, regardless of the motivation behind it, bettering one’s self is usually a good thing.

I’ll be honest; of all the sins (except perhaps sloth), vanity is one I have trouble classifying as “deadly” at all. For the majority of the rest, I can see how they could be deadly, given the right circumstances. While I could think of examples for why vanity does fit in, at least superficially, it’s a relatively weak case. Just thought I’d say that.

And all that leads into Greed.

We are all greedy. Deep in our dirty little souls, we want it all. Everything. More, more, more. Even when we know we can’t have it.

And while some people will see that as a bad thing, and I agree it can be terrible, it’s also what makes it great. Not unlike the previous two sins, greed can drive us to great accomplishments. If someone is greedy for accolades, for public acknowledgement, and it drives them to cure a disease or invent some new computer than can wake your ass up out of a coma or some shit, is that wrong? Does the motivation matter more than the result?

To me, the answer is a resounding no. I don’t give a flying fuck how great things came to be; just that they did come to be. I don’t care if a person is after publicity, money, or the hugs of adoring children. It’s the end result that’s important.

The flipside of that is the bad, of course. The ugly, the mean, the petty. People want, and sometimes they take, and it’s to the detriment of others. And I’m in full agreement that in those cases, greed is something that should be punished, strictly and severely. But overlooking the good is a folly, in my opinion, a mistake that’s made daily, by many.

Envy. Another sin that can drive us to new heights. I wonder; are you sensing a pattern yet? You should be, so if you aren’t, maybe you should go back and reread.

Many would argue that envy and greed are very similar. Some might even say envy is greed, just for the shit somebody else already has. And I wouldn’t disagree. That’s actually one of the many reasons I discount the seven deadly sins as anything more than an antiquated tool for keeping the sheep in line. But I digress.

We all envy. We all look at our family, friends, neighbours—even strangers on the street—and feel envy. We want what they have, whether it be material goods, looks, friends, lovers. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we all feel it, and just like all the sins I’ve listed so far, it can lead us to both major accomplishments and unbelievably malicious stupidity.

I’m not going to rehash what I’ve already said three times. I don’t need to. You aren’t fucking idiots. And my ass is getting numb from sitting in this damn chair. So, let’s press on.

Next up on the list is Gluttony. I think this one confuses some people. It confuses me. It’s just too much like greed. But here’s how I break it down. You can be greedy without being a glutton, but if you’re a glutton, you are greedy. Follow that?

Basically, somebody can be greedy. They can want it all. But if they don’t take it, or keep taking it past the point where any sane person would, they aren’t a glutton. Once they do start taking, they become a victim of gluttony. It is greed take to the extreme, made physical, tangible. It’s the difference between the girl who goes to McDonald’s and eats a salad while secretly wanting three Big Macs and the girl who keeps eating Big Macs until her fucking stomach explodes. That’s my interpretation; take from it what you will.

Gluttony, to me, is a giant, gaping hole in you that you must fill. You’ve got to take and take and take, until you have it all. And it’s still not enough. It never is. You’re always hungry; you always want more. And not just food. Sex, pain, money, fucking tiny collectible trains. It could be anything. We’ve all heard the term ‘glutton for punishment’. People can be gluttons for anything.

And that’s what keeps gluttony from always being a bad thing. Some people are gluttons for publicity. Just like greed, people can do great things, just to get the kudos that come as a result. Because they need that recognition, need the acknowledgement, the fame, like a crack-head needs… well, crack. And again, to me, the motivation doesn’t mean shit.

I’m going to take a bit of a step to the side with the next sin: Sloth. Unlike the rest, I don’t see this one as some driving force. Maybe some of you do. Good for you. But my argument for this one is much more simple: what’s wrong with being lazy?

Again, before I get into it, I feel compelled to repeat myself. Taken to the extremes, it’s obvious what’s bad about sloth. If you lie around all day, doing nothing, until you die from either loneliness or because you run out of living relatives willing to feed and house you, then it’s an issue. But for most people, sloth means you take a day or two a week to sit on your ass, watch sports, and order a fucking pizza. And I say again, what’s wrong with that?

Nothing. That’s the answer. There is nothing wrong with doing fuck all, as long as you don’t do it all the time. And in today’s society, it’s hard to do nothing. People have to work, just to keep a shitty roof over their head and pizza pockets in their belly. So when they get the opportunity to take a fucking break, they should take it. And not feel a bit of shame over it. They deserve the relaxation.

If it wasn’t obvious, sloth is the “sin” that pisses me off the most. I just find it wrong, on nearly every level. So fuck it; we’re moving on…

…to Wrath. Which is, for the record, my personal favourite. We can all identify with this little bastard. We’ve all been pissed the fuck off before. Wanting to break shit, or people’s faces; whichever is closest. It has, in my opinion, the most potential of all seven sins to deliver pain, physical and emotional, to the people around us. We lash out when we’re in the grip of wrath, say and do terrible things to the people who love us. And that’s difficult to excuse.

Or it would be, if you were a brain-dead moron. To regularly functioning humans, however, it’s a different story. We’ve also seen the bad side of wrath, but we’ve also seen the heights it can drive us to reach. Anytime we’ve been beaten by somebody at something, anything, and thought “Yeah, fat fucking chance, buddy. I’m going to kick your ass,” and then gone on claim victory, it’s wrath proving just how useful it is.

It drives us, shapes us, is a major part of us. And like all the rest, the potential for pain and damage is there. But the potential for greatness, for accomplishment, for victory is there too, and just as powerful. Plus, it feels fucking good. To rant, to rave, to scream and lash out and just let the world know that we are angry and fuck composed silence ‘cause that shit is for pussies.

Overall, I think it breaks down fairly simply. Each of the sins, from the “deadliest” to the seemingly most benign, has two sides. A good and a bad, a dark and a light, so to speak. Yeah, they can drive people to ruin, but can just as easily bring about greatness. It just depends on how you use them.

And let’s be honest; I’ve been drawing on extreme examples of each to illustrate my views here. Chances are most of us only ever encounter these supposedly deadly sins in minor, insignificant situations. Where they lead to neither pain for others/self nor accomplishment. And that, I think, lends more credence to my point than anything I’ve said so far. The fact that some people believe these tiny little blips of nothing can lead to your soul burning in Hell for the rest of eternity goes to show just how much of a fucking joke the whole idea of “seven deadly sins” really is.

We’re all sinners. I know I am. I’m vain, full of lust and wrath. I envy people, I want shit, and God knows I’m a lazy fuck. But I control myself. I don’t let it get out of hand. I’m not out there, taking and raping and punching people who annoy the fuck out of me. It’s called restraint, and it’s what keeps, in my mind, the seven deadly sins from being deadly at all.

In the end, all seven of these sins could lead to terrible things. But like anything else, in moderation, they can lead to good things. When all is said and done, it’s your choice to do what you will. Lust can give you the drive to do good and bad things, but you still have to do them. Lust doesn’t rape anybody, doesn’t cure diseases or invent new shit. That, both the evil and the good, is on you. Wrath doesn’t make you beat your wife, key your neighbour’s car or raise more money for cancer research just so you can rub it in your coworker’s smug face. That’s all you, buddy.

And that’s it. In the end, I don’t think I accomplished what I set out to do. All I really did was give a reason for why each sin should at least be given a little consideration before being cursed to Hell. And that’s all I can ask for, I guess.

I’m not trying to sell people on seeing shit the same way I do. I just wanted to put my view out there and see if anybody a) thought it made any kind of sense and b) agreed with any of it. I hope I did that. If I didn’t… man, I must have just wasted a good portion of your time. But like I said, I’m vain. This was about me, not you. So suck it.


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