Most of us can list off the seven deadly sins; pride, greed, lust, malicious envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth, but how many of us are aware of their presence in our own lives and culture?
This sin is often correlated with vanity and it is very often misconstrued and hidden in our culture. I am probably the only twenty three year old without a Snapchat and I have grown out of the selfie phase (thank God). The concept of constantly showing off what we look like or what we are doing in comparison to others always seemed futile and vain to me. To be honest, I think our youth has way too much time on their hands and when we spend a good amount of time worrying about what we wear, our makeup, our haircut, etc. then we are feeding that egocentric attitude. All of these things are barriers we place between God and ourselves because in many ways it causes us to be narrow minded and forget the glory of God creating us. He values our minds, thoughts, and actions. He sees right through the Mac and Versace to what is at our core. Beauty may symbolize positive traits in our culture but God is not of this world and judges us on our souls, not our styles. If you judge others based on how they look or are constantly insecure about how you look then you are feeding into pride. If you think body enhancements or spending excessive amounts of money on your looks is justifiable then you have lost sight of the precious natural beauty of yourself. Our generation has forgotten to “fear God”. This does not mean to be scared of Him and tip toe through life hoping not to disappoint Him. This means we must constantly knock ourselves down off our towers of superiority that we create and remember to be in awe of God and the grandeur of His creations.
St. Thomas Aquinas refers to greed as “a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, inasmuch as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.” Oh how human we are. We are blinded by what we can touch and see and we so quickly forget these things are of no value in comparison to the riches of Heaven. Our culture and media constantly fills our minds with what we need. We need new clothes, new furniture, a new car, a bigger house, more electronics, and so on and so on. The devil loves material things because we place too much value on them thus creating more barriers between us and our Lord. They cause us anxiety because of money and trying to compete with other people’s lifestyles. Our society screams that money and possessions make us important and add value to our life. God whispers again and again that we need not worry about these things but instead we must stay unattached to worldly items and be prepared to give them away. There is quite a bit of scripture on this and basically God wants us to remember that what we have is nothing in comparison to what we give and how much we love others. The beautiful thing about love is that it costs absolutely nothing to give it to others. It is also important to pay attention to what you spend your money on and if possible readjust and contribute money to things that do not directly benefit you in a material way.
This sin results from feeding into desires and wants in an unhealthy manner. Lust is a commonly accepted part of our culture. We are taught to embrace it as a natural and healthy desire to be acted upon. It may be natural to desire a person or possessions but it is an absolute lie that we should have it for the mere fact it entices us. I was very blessed to have been raised by a father that always treated my mother with utmost respect as both a mother to his children and as a wife. My dad obviously loves my mother very much but he never had to comment on her appearance for us to witness that love. Many men find it acceptable to comment openly on women’s looks, watch porn, and exploit the bodies of women with sexual stereotypes. This leads to people becoming overly obsessed with how they look to please others and feel worthy of want( commonly mistaken for love). So our culture may say that lust is a natural desire to be acted upon but what a scary concept that is. It may be natural for someone to get angry but that does not mean we condone them acting upon that anger to hurt others. My dad always stresses the importance of couth which is basically having manners, being aware of what you say and how you act, and refining from acting or saying inappropriate things. It may seem trivial but what you allow yourself to say or think makes an impact on those around you and the world. Being able to control lust and refine it is essential to living a life that pleases God and allows your soul to stay nourished.
Wanting what others have whether it be material possessions, jobs, relationships, etc. is natural but again God calls us to avoid it. Being envious is frivolous and lessens the value we place on the blessings we have in our own lives. Envy is a stronger form of jealousy in that we want what we are envious of. People that act upon envy usually act upon greed and lust as well. They think they need more in their life and if it means taking it from someone else then so be it. It is dangerous because it pulls our attention away from what God has given to us and disconnects us from respecting and loving others. We should strive for a grateful heart and take time to reflect on what we have. I have always struggled with “being happy” for others who are better off. When something good happens to someone else I have the tendency to ask why not me? Again this is prideful and blinds me from seeing that when someone has a positive event in their life we are able to witness God revealing his work through blessings. It is an honor and a privilege if we can look beyond ourselves and our own wants.
This is an epidemic in our generation because we no longer place value on things that back in the day were treasured. Food and material possessions have become indispensable to us. No one wants to learn to fix something when they can go out and buy it brand new. One third of America’s food goes to waste which is due to several factors but it especially has to do with the mindset of our generation that we have no fear of running out. My grandma used to make sure every part of a meal was not wasted. She gave stale bread to the birds and always gave us meals in small portions to avoid waste. With the abundance of convenience stores, fast food places, and large chain grocery stores we have endless options. We are going to be picky because we have the option to be picky. We buy too much, eat too much, and overindulge in almost everything because we have the ability and no immediate consequences. Democrats always stress the environmental issues and I find this interesting because most of these problems are man made problems originating from a progressive and self centered culture. Environmental problems are the least of our problems when we consider how gluttonous we are with overeating, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual addictions, and promoting birth control and abortion instead of abstinence and the sacredness of our bodies. It is a mindset and it is taught to our children and it will not change while we allow them to overindulge and be weak to their bodily tempations.
This is a dangerous sin because many times we find a way to justify feeling hateful, vengeful, or impatient. My grandma used to tell me on a daily basis that patience is a virtue. I once said that to a coworker who was annoyed with a customer and she laughed and said patience is a waste of time. I genuinely feel that the cancer of culture is rooted in self righteousness. It is very easily felt and is falsely empowering which makes it appealing. It spreads into our lives and makes us weak. It creates a self loathing in ourselves that we are unaware of and that we transfer on to others. Wrath, vengeance, and impatience trickle from the wound of pride. We hold ourselves above others and tell ourselves that we are more important. These feelings are not from God. He wants us to be humble, understanding, and patient because not only is it right but it is what we expect from others. Humble yourself to take hatred our of your heart and truly forgive others and yourself for all acts and thoughts rooted in hatred.
Another glorified sin in our culture is laziness. Doing the bare minimum to get by is seen as smart and appealing. I work in a convenience store and let me tell you the amount of people that cannot make themselves walk a few extra steps to throw away trash is staggering but these acts are to be expected in a self righteous society. It is so good for our souls to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. We tell ourselves lies like “we deserve to be lazy because…”, and those ideas can only be attributed to the devil. God reminds us again and again that working hard, serving others, and putting less importance on ourselves is key in reaching Heaven. There is a reason that working a tough job at a humbling wage can be rewarding. God wants us to realize that the things that do not come easy are the most fulfilling. Going out of our way to be efficient and have a strong work ethic is essential to appreciating life and the abundance of blessings it supplies. Choosing the easy path leads you to gain nothing. Taking the rough path will make you stronger and will help you bear fruits of patience, humility, appreciation, love, selflessness, etc.
It is disheartening how apparent these vices are in many leaders of our nation but that is why it is essential that we do not give in to the world. These sins and lifestyle choices can not only be overcome but they can be replaced with the fulfilling virtues that God intended us to have. With chastity, temperance, diligence, patience, kindness, charity, and humility we can heal our culture, our families, and our relationships with one another and with God. To stop the cultural cancer of sins from growing we must acknowledge their presence, remove them, and remedy our souls through the preservation of our faith.