What we love matters. We do---by nature it seems and training--love some of the right things. But often in the wrong way, especially by excess. And very often, we love the wrong things. These generalizations about human nature are hard to deny. And – straightforward as they are – investigating how and why this is so takes us into the heart of the human predicament, about which Christian thinkers have meditated for thousands of years.
Two valuable works rooted in the classic Christian tradition, examine the ‘seven deadly sins” as expressions of loving the wrong things, or the right things in the wrong way. One is “Disordered Loves” by William Stafford, written in 1994, and the other, more recently from 2009, is ‘Glittering Vices’ by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung. Each author writes, not merely as an ethicist, but as a pastor. The aim is not simply to diagnose our condition, but to provide ‘remedies’ (DeYoung) and ‘healing’ (Stafford). We are not without help for our condition and the costly toll of (here are the seven) gluttony, lust, avarice (greed), anger, envy, sloth, and pride.
These things are deadly not because when we commit them, we fall over dead. That does not happen, of course, any more than our nose growing (like Pinocchio) when we lie. No, the sins are deadly because they diminish and snuff out real life—life in its fullness—in us. They are like weeds that spoil the garden that is meant to be our hearts. Indeed, each book spends time teaching us how to cultivate our hearts, how to tend them, for "from the heart flows our life. (Proverbs 4.23)" And each book reminds us that, ultimately, it's the pursuit of holiness that is the most interesting and important thing going, if we are willing to pursue it.