Reasons to Believe

The Seven Deadly Sins, Part 2 (of 4)

In part 1 of this series, I began a discussion with RTB editor Sandra Dimas about the seven deadly sins. This week we delve deeper into the topic by looking at two more sins and their virtuous counterparts.

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Last week we talked about the deadly sin, or vice, sloth and the virtue of zeal. Let’s now move to the sin of gluttony.

Gluttony by definition is an unreasonable preoccupation with food, that is, having no limits. But it could refer to more than just food. It could include drinking or any number of things.

I’ve heard gluttony described as “the only sin you can see,” which could be true if you think of it on a basic level as just an excess of food or alcohol. I had a conversation with someone who challenged me to guess what his deadly sin was. It turned out to be gluttony because of his excess of books.

Hey. You’re getting personal here!

Well, you might have way too many books, but I’m probably the same but with music. Gluttony can be viewed as an overindulgence or overconsumption of anything to the point of waste. That part about waste seems vital.

Exactly. One thing of note about the seven deadly sins is that it’s often about taking things that are good and misusing them. So, for instance, food is a good thing. We can’t live without food. But you can take eating food and abuse it or exceed its purpose.

What would you say to those who are hurt when they’re told that obesity is a sin?

Again, this is a good thing gone bad. That’s the sinful condition. We have kind of twisted the good things of life. Food is absolutely necessary, but if there are no limits to it, it becomes a very serious problem. I’ll put it in a biblical context: instead of eating to live, you live to eat. So the orientation is switched. Instead of us being in control of it, it controls us.

How else might the sin of gluttony show up in one’s life?

Gluttony as a state of having no limits could apply to any number of things and could spill into other areas of our life.

What would the virtue be in contrast to the vice of gluttony?

The virtue in contrast to gluttony would be temperance, an older word meaning moderation, be it of food or drinks or books or music. Temperance or moderation is a very important virtue in any number of the areas of our life, not just food and drink.

Greed can be similar to gluttony in that it’s a sin of excess.

Yes, that’s interesting. The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil. It says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Again, it’s a perversion. Money could provide for a person’s education. Money could provide for healthcare for somebody. Money is a powerful resource. Greed emerges when we have an obsession with money. It’s not that I want just enough money to provide for my family, I want more money than you! As with food, money is a good thing but it could be exalted and misused.

What would be the contrasting virtue to greed?

In contrast to greed or obsession is generosity. Instead of hording things or wanting to control things, a generous person is giving. They would also credit other people for the good things that they do.

In what ways do you see generosity in your life?

I think about my role as a father. My kids are no longer children, so my fatherly role has changed. I want my kids to say, long after I’m gone, “My dad was so generous with what he did.” It’s difficult to have that generosity if you’re holding on to every little thing. Greed often manifests itself as an attempt to control all of the resources in your life rather than putting them out there to help others. But, in fact, I think the more you give the more you may receive, from a theological point of view.

How does our view of generosity impact our Christian walk and how we relate to God?

One thing that I love about God the Father is that He’s so generous. He’s so giving. His love spills over. So I think, how can that be reflected in my life? Can I have a generous spirit? Can I be generous with my time? Not just generous with my pocketbook, but is there a spirit of generosity where I’m always looking to give? That’s part of my own spiritual approach. I want to see the characteristics of the triune God evident in my own life.

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Next week this series will continue with two more deadly sins and cardinal virtues.

For more on the seven deadly sins, see Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness by David K. Naugle.

Subjects: Christian Life