Sometimes when I’m on a run I actually think about something beyond “How many more miles do I have to go?” Saturday was one such day, and for some reason I started thinking about the “seven deadly sins” and how differently we might view them today. So, let’s look at each of the sins, and what we find culturally acceptable today.


Then: The love of money is evil and leads to all kinds of unpleasant effects. We should moderate our desires for worldly wealth, and use money to help others.

Now: Do whatever you can to make money. If you slip and fall, sue whoever own the property where you did it. Game the system to get whatever government assistance you can. Buy lottery tickets!


Then: Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Keep yourself busy. Be productive and help others, through the talents you have been given. Improve your time.

Now: Get your work done as quickly as possible, so you can get more TV and video game time in. The more vulgar, crass, and mind-numbing the entertainment, the better. Absorb, rather than create.


Then: Be content with what you have, rather than wishing for someone else’s lot. Envy leads to contention. You’re not in competition with other people. Don’t be bitter because of another’s good fortune.

Now: This can be summed up nicely through the text of a billboard I saw. “Tired of keeping up with the Joneses? Just move into their foreclosure!” Get yourself into whatever debt you need to in order to get that huge house and shiny new car. If anything goes wrong, the government will bail you out! Do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie!


Then: We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, seeking to be more important, attractive, or wealthy than they are. Dante defined it as "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbour." Ezra Taft Benson defined the central feature of pride as enmity between man and God.

Now: You are worth it. You deserve whatever it takes to make you happy, whatever the cost to others. If you can’t build yourself up, just knock others down. Watch reality TV to feel better about yourself.


Then: Keep yourself pure prior to marriage, and then be entirely faithful to your spouse. “Whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart.”

Now: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Sex is a beautiful, natural thing, and it’s never wrong. Don’t worry about restraining your appetites. Do what feels good.


Then: Rage is bad. Be patient with others, and God will be patient with you. Anger is destructive toward ourselves and others.

Now: Temporary insanity justifies murder. When you get angry, it’s totally the other person’s fault. Revenge is sweet. Do whatever you can get away with.


Then: Eat what you need, and give your excess to the poor. Gluttony shows a lack of self-control and contempt for those who have less than you.

Now: Let’s try to figure out how to lose weight without exercising or eating right, so we can indulge all we want and never face the consequences! Let’s all collectively stuff our faces as much as possible, and not worry about mastering our appetites.

I realize this post comes off a little cynical (Is that really surprising at this point?) and judgmental, but I’m in no way saying I’m not guilty of these things. What I’m decrying is that behaviors that were once considered fundamentally wrong are now pretty universally accepted by mainstream society.

This all hearkens back to a larger theme I’ve been thinking about lately. We all want someone else to fix our problems. We want the government to magically instigate social and economic equality. But in the end it has to start with the individual. We need to teach our children basic moral values, and seek to improve ourselves. We should lift each other up willingly, rather than be taxed into supporting the poor. And we should take upon ourselves the responsibility to, as Ghandi put it, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

*steps off soapbox


Jen said…
Whenever I hear someone talk about their "soapbox" I imagine the little plastic container you put your bar of soap in, and then i imagine them trying to balance on this tiny soapbox, teetering back and forth and all around. It's funny in my head. This was a really good speech though (especially for being delivered while standing on such a tiny box).
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