"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it!" - Mr. Magorium

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sensuality and Sin

Yesterday I talked about how in our society many people seem to immediately associate the the word "sin" with sex. Sensuality is another word that is frequently associated with sex as well. However, both words have a much wider range of connotations than just the sexual one.

Sensuality actually deals with gratification of the senses; all of the senses. From that standpoint eating, listening to music, looking at art, and smelling perfumes are all forms of sensuality. As I've discussed before, Christian Science healing requires us to develop a spiritual sense. In order to do this we work to silence the physical senses. So you can see how sensuality would be counter productive in this line of effort.

It's hard to imagine looking at art or smelling perfumes as sins. But it's easy to see how the sense of touch relates directly to sex, and obsession with eating carries undesirable consequences. When not indulged in "properly" and in moderation these forms of sensuality are commonly looked upon as sinful. If you read my post for yesterday, you'll recall that I discussed how God doesn't punish sins; they carry their own negative consequences.

So, not all forms of sensuality are necessarily sinful. Music and art can uplift our thinking and inspire us with spiritual insights. "By their fruits ye shall know them."

Conversely, even by traditional standards, not all sins are sins of sensuality. The early Christian church identified "seven deadly sins". According to Wikipedia, the seven deadly sins were originally: gluttony, fornication/lust, avarice/greed, sorrow, wrath, acedia/despair, vainglory, and pride. Today the seven deadly sins are commonly listed as: pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. So you can see how they've evolved.

The sin of pride has led us into wars. The sin of greed has pushed us into economic recession. And even if we as individuals haven't committed these sins, we still suffer for them. Just as Jesus, who was "without sin", suffered because of the pride, greed, and lusts of others in his day.

I find it interesting that Miriam Webster defines acedia, one of the original seven deadly sins, as "apathy, boredom" which to me has nothing to do with despair, the word it is paired with. I can see how acedia, as apathy and boredom, could have been changed to sloth. But it omits the significance of despair. Today I don't know of anyone who talks of despair as a sin. But to a Christian Scientist, despair absolutely misses the mark in someone trying to live a Christian life. It entails a lack of trust in God.

Back in my teen years, when I was aspiring to be an actor, my acting teacher had monologues he would have us read for each of these seven deadly sins. I remember playing sloth for the class. For effect I kept falling asleep during the monologue. It was fun to laugh at ourselves playing at being personifications of these sins. It might be sobering to consider how silly we look to others when committing them in our daily lives.

Our acting teacher told us at the time that there were also seven godly virtues. But that he didn't have monologues for them because he said they weren't as interesting.

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