Friday, May 22, 2015

The Seven Deadly Sins: A Guide for Newlyweds

The seven deadly sins are an old-fashioned notion, kept current in our culture mostly by popular entertainment. “Se7en” (1995) was a heck of a thriller, if not exactly a moral lesson. 

But Wednesday night I had a chance to see just how (damn) relevant the seven deadly sins can be. I attended a men’s faith group. The leader is getting married next month, and he asked advice of the other men around the table, most of us married, some for many years.

He brought a list of questions and potential problems for the married man, none greater than lust. In fact, it may not surprise you that we spent at least half of our time talking about the pitfalls of lust and its manifestations, including infidelity, pornography, masturbation. Yeah, we talked about bachelor parties. Probably too much.

But after one man in the group confessed that he had been unfaithful to his wife, another said, “I’ve never been unfaithful, but alcohol just about wrecked my marriage. Along with the anger I expressed. Alcohol’s not lust. I guess it’s gluttony.”

“And there’s the anger,” a third man added.

Already we had three of the seven. By the end of the night we had covered each of them, without naming the seven deadly sins as such.

Lust—All of us agreed that there is no quicker way to end a marriage than infidelity. We talked about how the little things (“looking at pictures on my phone”) can lead the eye to wander (“noticing all the sun dresses at my office”). One thing leads to another.

Gluttony—Alcohol, drugs, overindulgence. More than one man at the meeting had his stories.

Greed—The leader talked about the pull of his professional life, of the need to succeed. Soon, we were talking about business travel and how much time it can take away from one’s spouse and children.

Sloth—Let’s face it. No one wants a couch potato for a husband.

Wrath—I have known my share, and I can tell you that it did not help my marriage.

Envy (and its partner, Jealousy)—In this day of two-career marriages, envy can be just as destructive as romantic or sexual jealousy.

Pride—Probably the sneakiest of the seven, pride shows itself in subtle ways that are hard to detect in oneself, like: [I’m too busy to listen to what you’re saying] and [How did I ever end up with you?]

Peter Kreeft, in his book Catholic Christianity, writes:

The Catholic faith is summarized in the twelve articles of the Apostles’s Creed. Catholic morality is summarized in the Ten Commandments. Catholic liturgy is summarized in the Mass. Catholic prayer is summarized in the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. 

He might have added:

Catholic marriage should begin with a study of the seven deadly sins. 

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