Do You Have a Lustful Appetite?

Yes! Yes! I hear you cry, but have you stopped to ask yourself why I am asking, or even what I mean by my question? Maybe even wondered where I am going with it? Was that a sharp intake of breath I’ve just heard…..?

Think back to last time’s blog, where I introduced you to the seven deadly sins and the penny should be starting to drop, the synapses starting to fire, the memory starting to clear.

Still yelling ‘Yes! Yes!?’ in answer to my question now?

Let’s see how you feel once I’ve taken you through those sins of lustful appetite – gluttony, lust and greed. Beware, though, dear reader, as you may be surprised by what they actually mean.

We all remember the opening scenes of the film Se7en, where flies are buzzing, food is spoiling and an obese man is sitting at his kitchen table, his skin grey and mottled, his hands and feet bound, his face planted in a plate of spaghetti, his stomach ruptured……. Well, if you haven’t seen it, have a look at the link below, as it illustrates perfectly the lustful appetite of gluttony.

According to Thomas Aquinas, there are five ways to “commit” gluttony:

  • Laute – eating too expensively
  • Studiose – eating too daintily
  • Nimis – eating too much
  • Praepropere – eating too soon
  • Ardenter – eating too eagerly.

Ardenter is see as by far the worst form of gluttony, as it depicts an extreme attachment to the mere pleasure of eating. This means you don’t do it because you are hungry, you do it because you can.

Gluttony, however, isn’t just about over-eating. The term actually represents over-indulgence or over-consumption of anything, to the point of waste. So, have a good look at your life and your surroundings, dear reader, and determine whether you are guilty of this sin of desire.

You may be wondering what difference it makes and maybe it doesn’t in today’s world, but gluttony is a form of selfishness. In Christianity, it was seen as an excessive desire for food which caused it to be withheld from those who needed it most.

By indulging in your gluttonous sin, you are said to be placing the concern of your own impulses and interests above the well-being and interests of others.

Maybe it’s time to take stock of all your “must have” desires and see if you really do need these things instead.

Dante described the next sin of lustful appetite as “the disordered love for individuals”, and condemned them in purgatory to walk within flames to purge themselves of their lustful thoughts and feelings. In inferno, however, souls are blown about in restless winds to symbolise their lack of self-control towards their lustful passions in their earthly life.

Still wondering which sin I’m talking about? Well, this graphic scene from Se7en should awaken that memory:

How many of you crossed your legs and winced? I think it would have caused more than wincing to the unlucky recipient of that little gift, don’t you?

Whilst “lust” does mean intense or unbridled sexual desire leading to fornication, rape, bestiality and other immoral sexual acts, once again, the sin of lust is not just about sex.

Lust is defined as intense longing and so can be applied to desire in general, whether this be for more money, more power or more of anything.

The key word here is “desire”.

Then we come to the last sin of lustful appetite, that of greed. In Se7en this was the scene in the lawyer’s office, where the victim was found dead with a pound of flesh cut from his body – something Shakespeare engages in The Merchant of Venice.

Greed is probably an easier sin to wrap your head around. It is seen as the inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than you need, especially when it comes to material wealth.

I’d hazard a guess that greed is the one most people are guilty of too. Why? Because we all have that desire towards the owning of material possessions, some to a lesser extent than others. Hoarding is seen as an action inspired by greed, as is theft and robbery, albeit the latter are also criminal offences!!

If Dante found you guilty of greed, you would be condemned in purgatory to be bound and lie face down on the ground. Why? For having concentrated too excessively on earthly thoughts, of course.

So, how you felling now, dear reader? I think you’re probably all still saying ‘yes’ to your lustful appetites, but a little more quietly now that you know what you’re admitting too. Am I wrong?

When I sit back and think about the deadly sins and how the church used to beat you around the head for committing them, I look at the world we live in today and don’t believe the church could keep up with such a volume of transgressions.

Think about it and translate the definitions of these mortal sins into modern day life and how each of us might fall foul of them? Let’s have a look, shall we.

You will have committed the sin of lust through adultery, wanting to be rich, wanting to be famous, wanting to be powerful and successful, as well as the more sinister ones. Desiring success, though, is seen as a strength in today’s world.

Are “all you can eat” buffets a sign of gluttony or thriftiness? Decide for yourself.

How about the compulsion you may have for more clothes, more shoes, or in my case, more notebooks…….this is a classic sign of greed – to possess and continue to amass more than you need. I am currently looking at my stack of pristine notebooks as I write this, but I don’t feel bad.

As with all things, time moves on, and what was deemed sinful centuries ago, may be commonplace today. It doesn’t mean the deadly sins do not exist, dear reader, it simply means they are erring towards the darker side of life, as are we all.

May fear protect you when the darkness comes.

Til next time.