The David Fincher thriller starring Brad Pitt, “Seven” back in 1995 introduced what exactly the seven deadly sins are in a gruesome way, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are police officers who go to great lengths to capture a vicious serial killer who has been murdering people. The way the killer sets up his murder scenes alludes to each of the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, greed, gluttony, wrath, sloth and lust. Obviously in teaching your children what the seven deadly sins are this isn’t a film you want to show them. So other than this horror film, where do these seven deadly sins come from and and what are their meanings?
The classification of the seven deadly sins has been used since early Christian era to make Christians understand sin and to avoid committing these bad deeds. The sins are also known as capital vices or cardinal sins. Coming from biblical times, the sins are categorized into two different types of sins, mortal sins and venial sins. They are the opposite of the seven virtues of Catholicism which are chastity, temperance, liberality, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. The seven deadly sins are not considered mortal sins but rather a gateway to more serious sins and are the complete opposite of the seven virtues. In the 6th century, Pope Gregory the first revises the list to include the seven deadly sins that we know today. Here is a list and explanation of each of the seven deadly sins.
This is thought to be the worst sin of all of the seven deadly sins. It’s believed to be the cause of all of the other sins. Arrogance, vanity, and hubris are all other ways to define pride. A strong indicator of pride that children will understand is competitiveness. While it’s good to foster a sense of healthy competition, you have to know where to draw the line. A good example that children will understand is the story of the tortoise and the hare. These two were in a race together and the hare clearly acting prideful thought that there was no way that a lowly slow tortoise could possibly beat him, yet he does because the hare was too busy fooling around to finish the race.
Take any child into a toy store and they will understand the concept of greed. They want everything! Sometimes a child will throw a major tantrum right in the middle of the toy aisle if you refuse to purchase them their impulsive desire. If you cave every time your child begs for something, they will always want more and more. Greed is very contagious. It’s also a major issue for teenagers who are trying to keep up with the buying power of their friends. Say their best friend always gets the latest hot clothes or smart phone technology, usually they are going to want those things as well.
“Keeping Up WIth Jones” doesn’t stop at childhood because most adults have suffered this problem simply by living in the suburbs. The bigger house, the better car, and extravagant vacations are just a few examples. The more stuff you see others having, the more you try and try to compete and “keep up” by acquiring those things as well. Learning to live simply and imparting this virtue onto your children is a challenge. A modern example of greed that your children will understand is from the “Hunger Games” Trilogy. In these book and the movie adaptations that followed, it’s the greed of the Capital that has destroyed all the districts. The heroine, Katniss lives in abject poverty in District 12, just trying to survive hunger by hunting, whereas in the Capital they have so much excess that at parties they actually regurgitate up their food so they can indulge in more.
A common metaphor for envy is “wearing out the eyes.” You are wanting something that isn’t your own. This is easy to get children to relate to. You always want what you don’t have. For example, I always had wavy curly hair. I would gaze in wonderment at all the straight haired girls growing up with their beautiful, easy to comb, long straight mirror like in their shine tresses and wish my hair was like that. Alas, now that i am an adult I can get a Brazilian Keratin treatment to tame my unruly locks, but that’s another bonus to being an adult. Envy can easily eat away at your insides if you let it get out of control. Teaching kids to be happy with what they have takes time and patience. Sibling rivalry can also come across as envy. If you have one child who is stellar at sports and another child with two left feet, the less sporty child might be envious of their achieving sibling. It’s best to teach kids that everyone is good at something and it might take some time to find out exactly what you excel at.
Wrath is otherwise known at extreme anger. Anger to the upteenth level. Just just petty irritation. Wrath will take you to a place of anger so potent that you are called to do something hurtful about it. Children can be quick to anger over even minor infractions in their life. The terrible twos are a good example of early childhood experiences with anger. When a kid throws himself on the floor in a fit of rage over a litany of simple things, you might be experiencing the terrible twos. Usually as kids grow out of this stage they find ways of dealing with and learning coping skills to abate their anger.
When we commonly think of lust we usually think of sexual desire but that’s not the actual definition. Lust can be towards anything that you want intently that manifests itself in a emotion or feeling of intense desire deep within the body. A craving. The lust can take any form such as the lust for knowledge, the lust for sex or the lust for power. It can take such ordinary forms as the lust for food as distinct from the need for food. Lust is a powerful psychological force producing intense wanting for an object, or circumstance fulfilling the emotional want. Your child’s first innocent experience with lust will probably come in the form of a crush. A harmless crush on another classmate will likely prepare them for interaction with their peers. It’s a rite of passage for your child to experience their first crush. This is a good chance to talk to your child about healthy relationships. Find out what they like about their “crush” and foster an important discussion.
This is a pretty easy concept for a child to understand. If they have ever been to a birthday party and overindulged on cake or goodies to the determent of their poor tummy, then they understand gluttony.
Humanity is innately slothlike. We have to be taught to clean up, work and do something with our lives. Teaching children this lesson comes early in life. Remember the preschool song “Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Do Their Share.” I think they sing this song in every preschool around the world! Whether it’s putting away their toys, cleaning their rooms or even helping do the dishes, it’s important to teach your child not to be lazy.
The seven deadly sins and their meanings have evolved over time, but overall keeping the basic definitions of the words in mind will help you to teach them to your children. Children are inherently good at heart, wanting to do good is a natural part of their personalities. You can even turn it into a type of game for them to play. Have one child name some specific examples of each sin and have the others guess which one it is. Hours of learning enjoyment!