For two thousand years, theologians have been arguing which is more terrible - pride or adultery. The Catholic Church, having compiled a list of seven deadly sins, puzzled all of humanity for a long time. This list is a bunch of mysteries that are difficult to explain. For example, why is despondency a mortal sin and murder not? And there are many more such questions than answers.
The seven deadly sins are often called biblical. In fact, the Bible says nothing about them. But the concept of the seven deadly sins was not born out of nowhere, but became a kind of quintessence of ideas from different religions of the world. First, general concepts of good and evil appeared. Then the ancient Sumerians created the first set of moral rules. Then the concept of sin arose in the Hindu religion.
It is reflected in other religions as well. For example, in the ancient Egyptian "Book of the Dead", created thousands of years ago. There is envy, pride, anger, adultery, discouragement. And if a person abused these vices during his lifetime, then the path to the kingdom of the dead was forbidden to him. In Judaism, the concept of sin is mentioned in the Pentateuch.
The doctrine of the main sins was formed in the monastic environment, in the Eastern Christian asceticism. And at first there were eight of them. Even Cyprian of Carthage, who died in 258, in his essay "On Mortality" mentioned eight major sins. But their list became more famous thanks to the works of the Greek monk-theologian Evagrius of Pontus, who compiled a list of eight worst human passions. He called them pride, vanity, sadness, anger, despondency, greed, voluptuousness and gluttony. The order in this list was determined by the degree of harm of these passions for a person. Theologians considered pride to be the most selfish human trait, and therefore the most harmful.
This list was markedly different from the biblical commandments. The ten commandments of Moses mention only lust and envy. And Jesus Christ in his Sermon on the Mount exposed anger and lust. So theologians were tougher than both Jesus and Moses.
Bosch (detail) Envy
Pope Gregory I the Great is considered the main creator of the list of deadly sins. In 590 he reduced it to seven elements, bringing the concept of vanity into pride, sadness into despondency, and also adding a new one - envy. Reordered a little: pride, envy, anger, despondency, greed, gluttony and voluptuousness. And actually approved.
The main popularizer of the list of sins can be called the great theologian Thomas Aquinas, who lived in the 13th century. In his writings, he finally defined the concept of mortal sins, and it was in his edition that it became widespread. Thomas Aquinas tried to explain to people how mortal sins differ from others. He separated the concept of vice from sin and argued that sin trumps vice in evil.
The German theologian Peter Binsfeld made his contribution to the development of the theme of mortal sins, who in his "Treatise on the Confession of the Doers of Evil and Witches" (1589) assigned a patron from the kingdom of darkness to each mortal sin. Lucifer, in his opinion, is responsible for pride, Mammon - for stinginess, Asmodeus - for debauchery, Satan - for anger, Beelzebub - for gluttony, Leviathan - for envy, Belphegor - for despondency (aka laziness).
Bosch (detail) Gluttony
Later theologians explained to people the danger of mortal sins more clearly. For example, Theophan the Recluse in the 19th century wrote about the difference between a mortal sin and a less serious sin as follows: “A mortal sin is that which takes away from a person his moral Christian life”. In general, sins are called "mortal" because they kill the soul.
List of hypocrites
Nevertheless, questions remained to the creators of the list. The moral norms invented by them were very different from the surrounding medieval reality. The church called pride the main sin, but connived at monarchs who prided themselves on their power. She herself demonstrated her vanity with pompous processions. Expressed anger towards heretics. Demonstrated greed in collecting tithes. Monks, like all people, at times fell into despondency, laziness and did not deny themselves gluttony. Unless they tried to avoid voluptuousness.
There is no doubt that the theologians who came up with the list of deadly sins were highly moral people. But it should be noted that both Pope Gregory I the Great and Thomas Aquinas came from wealthy noble families and never felt the need. For example, Thomas was the seventh son of Count Landolphe Aquinas. And Gregory, at the head of the Roman Church, received large incomes from its land holdings, which occupied an area of about 4.5 thousand square kilometers in Italy, Africa, Gaul and Dalmatia, as well as on the islands of Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia.
It is much easier for the rich and well-fed to talk about the dangers of gluttony than it is for the peasant in a lean year.
It turns out that, in fact, the creators of the list themselves really struggled with only one sin - adultery. It is believed that the idea of fleshly sin was borrowed by theologians from Manichaeism. The Manicheans considered the carnal, sensual side of human nature as a source of absolute evil, something vicious by its very nature. Catholic theologians, who deliberately chose for themselves the crown of celibacy, were strict with adultery.
Scientists have long found excuses for people from all deadly sins. It turns out that people sin unintentionally. This means that they cannot be held responsible at the Last Judgment for pride, envy, anger, despondency, greed, gluttony or voluptuousness. It's not the sinfulness of human matter that is to blame, but the defects of its individual sections. For example, it was determined that depression in humans is caused by biochemical disturbances in the central nervous system, as a result of which the exchange of neurotransmitters, substances that regulate mental activity, are interrupted. The cause of anger can be thyroxine, a thyroid hormone, which, when high in blood levels, makes a person very irritable.
Researchers at New York University have found a "greed center" in the human brain. Observing the brain activity of volunteers participating in a computer game for money in the laboratory, scientists noticed that when there were signs of gain in the test subjects, the flow of oxygen-enriched blood to a site called the "nucleus accumbens" increased. When the player was threatened with a loss, this phenomenon was not observed.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge believe that the causes of gluttony should be found in the genes. It turned out that uncontrolled binge eating causes a genetic mutation that leads to a lack of the hormone leptin. This hormone regulates hunger in the body and signals to the brain that the human body is already full. If the body lacks leptin, then people constantly feel hunger.
And the church itself is gradually imbued with compassion for the depravity of human nature, realizing that it still cannot be corrected. For example, in 2005, with the blessing of John Paul II, the world's first Catholic sex guide was published in Italy with the revolutionary title Sin Not To Do It. In the book, cardinals and bishops openly urge Catholics to make love more often. Quote from the book: "Sexual intimacy can only be compared with the love that binds the Father, Son and Holy Spirit …"
They say that in the Vatican, a petition of French restaurateurs to the head of the Catholic Church with a proposal to exclude gluttony from the list of deadly sins, since delicious food softens morals and expels despondency …
Life does not stand still. And even church canons are changing. It is possible that the list of deadly sins may expand due to the spirit of the times. In any case, the bishop of the Catholic Church, Gianfranco Girotti, has already made a proposal to add seven more "social sins" to the seven existing ones.
1. Violation of bioethics (eg, birth control).
2. Scientific research that is morally questionable (for example, related to stem cells or genetic engineering).
3. Environmental pollution.
4. Exacerbating the growing gap between the poor and the rich.
5. Excessive wealth.
6. Drug abuse.
7. Driving into poverty.