I’ve once again been chatting online with people of religious belief. It struck me that many people often look at things as either black or white, positive or negative. This isn’t a trait of the religious but I have noticed it in my Christian verses atheist debates. You know the spiel: atheists have no morals because they follow no Gods, Christians are all proselytizing Jesus-freaks. Nonsense, of course. Yet, as human beings, we find it convenient to simplify and categorise things that we encounter. There’s probably some sort of inherited survival trait responsible.
One particular thing that bothers me is the idea of sin. I’ve often been seen to praise one or more of the traditional Seven Deadly Sins (Greed, Lust, Pride, Gluttony, Envy, Wrath, and Sloth) as having positive aspects. I don’t think that I’ve ever explained my reasoning though or put them all in one place.
Well this is my blog and I’ll write about sin if I please.
Greed or a desire for wealth may be bad when taken to extremes but in a modern society wealth means that you pay more taxes and contribute more to society. You have the ability to spend money on consumer goods which need to be made by someone. Someone whose job you have secured with your expenditure. Wealth begets more wealth and greedy people are willing to invest in order to secure that wealth and increase it.
Lust or strong sexual desire often accompanied with fertility is one of my very favourite “sins” ;). Our very species relies upon sexual desire for procreation. We wouldn’t want to go the way of the panda now would we? A dose of lust keeps a relationship healthy and allows us to overlook small foibles in our partners. I’m willing to let the fact that The Hildy puts spoons in the draining rack upside down when I know I’m going to get some action at some point. She similarly forgives my minor annoyances (not that I am ever annoying) that would otherwise build up without some healthy release.
Pride or feeling of self-respect and personal worth is another of my favourite “sins”. I feel proud when I perform a task well or create something that I place value upon. I am willing to stand up for my opinions and ideas that I think are right. Lack of pride can lead to others taking advantage of you as you lack self worth and so defer to others.
Gluttony or the consumption of food and drink in abundance isn’t one of my favourites but eating a hearty meal is a pleasure. More than the actual consumption though the very fact that you can provide a large repast speaks of your success. We don’t live my hunting and gathering any more but a large meal has to be paid for and being able to provide it is cause to celebrate.
Envy or a feeling of grudging admiration and desire to have something that is possessed by another, an eager striving if you will is an excellent motivator. I’m not so keen on “keeping up with the Joneses” but seeing someone else’s well earned success may well prompt me to work harder.
Wrath or belligerence aroused by a real or supposed wrong is a righteous anger against something. The key thing here is that the anger is in response to a perceived wrong. If some ‘tard blocks the footbridge at the train station with their foolishly placed luggage then I have a right to be angry and express that anger. In fact if anyone does something that angers me then I may well be prompted into action. I shouldn’t let my anger control me but I can certainly let it motivate me. Some of the greatest changes in society have been prompted by wrath. Do you think that the civil rights movement would have even started if people had not been angry at the unfairness of their situation?
Sloth or a disinclination to work or exert yourself or simply to rest and recover is a fine reward for hard work. To describe it as a sin is to dismiss the efforts that allow a person to rest and relax. How often have you simply needed to take a break? Recovery is important to keeping a person going.
Well these are my justifications for why sin can be good and why looking at the world in black and white means that you miss the shades of grey. I’d love to expand on this and hear any comments that you might have.