Every plugged-in Catholic has got to have heard by now of the "new seven deadly sins," a list constructed by Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti. They are "genetic modification, carrying out experiments on humans, polluting the environment, causing social injustice, causing poverty, becoming obscenely wealthy and taking drugs," according to the Telegraph. With all due respect to the monsignor (and monsignors are due a lot of respect), I don't like that list. "Deadly sins" should be something that destroys the soul. The original ones actually pretty well cover it for the modern West -- they are timeless, which begs the question of whether a new list is even worth writing.
Begged question or not, I've decided to write one. Here is my list of seven modern vices that could be called deadly because they destroy the soul and hurt the people around it. My list is of insidious sins, ones which the devil uses to seduce people away from God without their even noticing. All are sins against charity.
- Pornography. It warps one's view of the sacred gift of sex, making it into nothing but an act of self-gratification. It presents sex partners as mere vehicles to that gratification.
- Character assassination. Any person who has been the victim of gossip, backstabbing, office politics, and other ruination of reputation might say that the experience is like dying a little death. Those who engage in character assassination often continue blithely through their lives, as their actions erode at any virtue of charity they may have, until they find they cannot even remember the last time they practiced Christian love.
- Dangerous driving. I have first-hand experience with the destructiveness of road rage. Drunken driving, too, is a grave sin against the fifth commandment ("You shall not murder"). Since driving patterns become habits that are very hard to break, this sin qualifies as deadly to those who engage in it.
- Celebrity worship.
- Xenophobia. The immigration debate in the U.S. is a good example of how this qualifies as a deadly sin. Many anti-immigration voices call illegal immigrants "aliens." I have even heard one commentator routinely refer to them as "criminal aliens." No term could be more dehumanizing than "alien," which in modern culture brings to mind images of extraterrestrials. This attitude is contrary even to the term "Catholic Church," since "catholic" means that God's love applies equally to all people, foreign or not. God told Moses, "You shall not oppress an alien; you well know how it feels to be an alien, since you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt." (Ex 23:9) Losing empathy destroys the soul.
- Birth control. (I'd love to see a church official dare publicly to call that a deadly sin)