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How Sinful Are You?

For those of you who want to revel in a little guilt, read up on how sinful you are.

By Lizzie BoudoirPublished 7 years ago 10 min read

Sin just isn't what it used to be. Ever since the I'm-okay-you're-okay mentality settled on us like a mist of molasses a while back, the fun's gone out of it. Practically no one worries about hellfire and damnation anymore.

In the long run, this evolution is probably good. It means that for the first time in centuries we may be able to walk around without backpacks of guilt hanging from our psyches. Still, you have to feel bad about the shabby treatment sin's been getting. If we become blasé about sin, life may turn out to be awfully drab. I mean, the whole point of doing nasty stuff is so that you can savor the Sweet joy of transgression, isn't it?

For those of you who want to revel in a little guilt before the concept is consigned to the museum of outmoded social ideas, we devised this quiz on the seven deadly sins. We figure that even if you're not theologically inclined, it doesn't hurt to know which categories of naughtiness you excel in.

Actually, it may be premature to worry about the demise of the seven deadly sins. Even if we stop calling them 'sins,' pride, sloth, gluttony, anger, envy, lust, and covetousness will probably remain with us for some time to come. We may refer to them as 'personality problem areas," but they'll still be the same comfortable old vices, won't they?

No one is quite sure who decided there would be seven deadly sins instead of three, or 10, or 34. Religious historians think that the concept of a concrete number of vices from which all bad things flow originated with either the Stoic philosophers of Greece or the gnostic cults of the Middle East.

Early Christian teachers picked up the idea, although they sometimes listed six or eight cardinal vices. But from about A.D. 600 on, the seven favorites that we know and love today became standard. Seven may have been chosen because it's always been a magical, symbolic number dear to the hearts of everyone from druids to crapshooters.

But enough of this theologizing; it's time to take the quiz. You may notice that some of the questions are serious and others are less so. We'll let you figure out which are which - and let you come to your own conclusions.

Pride

Pride has always been considered the worst of all sins. Medieval folks called it the Queen of Vices. It's what you end up with after you've conquered all your other faults. It's also the vice that's hardest to overcome. A glutton is usually well aware that he or she eats too much. An envious person knows that he or she is envious. But proud people rarely realize how stuck-up they are.

The pride we're speaking of here is not the natural pride in things you've accomplished; it's what used to be called vainglory-taking credit for things you had nothing to do with.

In other words, it's okay to feel proud of having discovered the North Pole or having found the cure for hiccups. It's not okay to be proud of your beautiful eyes or your terrific, naturally blond hair, because you didn't have a damn thing to do with either of them.

  • Do you act as if people and things were made for your convenience? For example, when someone holds a door open for you, do you neglect to say 'thank you'?
  • Do you always manage to mention your latest accomplishment in every conversation?
  • Would you enjoy being the hatchet woman in a large corporation-that is, the expert hired gun whose main job is to fire people?
  • Do you always look in mirrors when you pass them?
  • Do you have a tendency of thinking certain jobs are "beneath you," even if you aren't qualified for them or are in need of money?
  • Does it bother you to be the butt of a joke?
  • Do you tend to namedrop others?
  • Do you think that your racial or ethnic prejudices are justified?
  • Do you feel that what you have to say is usually more important than what others say?

Envy

Envy has to rank as one of the nastier vices. The slothful person might be indolent but amusing, and we might at least admire a proud person. But the envious always come across as unsavory. Envy tends to be focused on social status, being a ringleader, and being seen as the "top dog."

Envy, wrote one medieval scholar, "produces an inner sore through which the mind loses its tranquility and becomes angry. And it progresses through anger, sadness, and greed to gluttony and lechery."

The English writer Angus Wilson says that envy "has the ugliness of a trapped rat that has gnawed its own foot off in its effort to escape." Yech. Face it, envy is a vice that even a mother would have trouble loving.

  • Are you happy at a party only if "status" people are there?
  • Do you think that nonconformists are creeps?
  • Do you feel deprived if your date doesn't take you to the newest disco or the most exclusive restaurant?
  • Do you have a tendency of taking credit for other peoples's work, or bullying people out of positions you want?
  • Do you think that you have the worst luck of anyone you know?
  • Have you started mean rumors to push people who had more than you out of your circles?
  • When you were a kid in school, was there always someone you considered a rival, someone who constantly scored just above you on tests? Can you still recall his or her name?
  • Have you thrown fits over having someone outperform you, get more praise than you, or get applause over you?
  • Do people accuse you of being a "Mean Girl?"

Sloth

How can you condemn someone whose principal vice is to sleep through the alarm each morning? Evelyn Waugh once wrote that, in modern eyes, sloth, "so far from being a deadly sin, is one of the most amiable of weaknesses. Most of the world's troubles seem to come from people who are too busy."

So why did sloth make the top seven? Mainly because the medieval word for it, accidie, implied a lot more than sleepiness.

It was a deliberate refusal to be happy, a desire to wallow in self-pity, despair, and depression. Given the modern psychological view of things, it might seem a little harsh to blame someone for being depressed.

Nevertheless, there's something to be said for the view that we are at least partially responsible for constructing our own happiness. It's something to think about, anyway.

  • You've heard the maxim, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." Do you think that people who subscribe to it are just expending a lot of needless time and effort?
  • Do you have a long-standing, simmering resentment against your boss, or have you hated your job for a long time but refuse to switch careers?
  • Do you find it hard to engage in periods of intense, high-pressure work?
  • Do you have a habit of actively ignoring messes and problems in hopes that others will clean them up for you?
  • Do you turn the TV on for a single show and then sit there for hours watching whatever comes on?
  • Do you avoid trying new things (foods, hobbies, jobs, etc.) because you figure you probably won't like them anyway?
  • Do you have long-term bouts of self pity?
  • Have people told you that you have a "victim mentality?"

Gluttony

Yum, yum. Nothing wrong with a good meal now and then. And if that's as far as it goes, you can hardly be branded a glutton. But if you're compulsively attached to food-if you keep potato chips in your desk, M&M's in your purse, and a box of Oreos under your pillow-you have a problem.

Traditionally, gluttony has also covered other oral fixations, like smoking and drinking. If you consume other items, such as drugs, this definitely would fit under gluttony as well.

Finally, gluttony also deals with the style and manner in which you consume food: do you eat with your fingers? Do you say "oink" when you get up from the table?

  • Do you automatically take second helpings of most foods, even if they happen to be things you're not particularly wild about?
  • Have you dealt with Compulsive Overeating Disorder in the past, or are you currently diagnosed with it?
  • Do you chain smoke?
  • When you're in a supermarket, do you always end up buying more food than you need just because everything looks so good?
  • Do you cook more food than even you could possibly eat-and then throw much of it out?
  • Can you eat a whole two-pound box of candy at a sitting?
  • Are you a compulsive collector of cookbooks?
  • Do you use hard drugs more than twice a month?
  • Are you usually the first person done eating at a dinner party?
  • Are people regularly grossed out by your dining manners?

Covetousness

Covetousness? When is the last time someone accused you of covetousness? Hell, no one's even used the word since the seventeenth century.

Actually, this vice has a lot in common with envy, but there are subtle differences. The status seeker, for example, would be classified as envious, while the chronic keeper-up-with-the-Joneses would be covetous. Envy involves social position; covetousness concerns itself more directly with physical objects.

You envy Theodora because she was just named president of the largest international knee-socks conglomerate; you covet the Mercedes 450 SL that she's able to buy with her six-figure salary. Understand? And, of course, covetousness also covers such other good things as avarice, greed, and lack of charity.

  • When Christmas rolls around, do you always feel that you get the least interesting presents?
  • Have you stolen the Mona Lisa lately (or would you if you had the chance)?
  • When you get asked for spare change on the street, do you always refuse?
  • Do you assume that all charity organizations are ripoffs?
  • Do you regularly shop clothing that's way out of budget, just because you have to have it?
  • Do you hang on to all your out-of-style clothes though you know you'll never wear them again?
  • Do you refuse on principle to lend money to anyone, including your closest relatives?
  • Do you get angry every time you hear that someone in the office has bought a new dress?
  • Would you date someone just because they're rich enough "to provide a lavish lifestyle" for you?

Lust

Lust has always been popular, and, as you may have noticed, it still is. But there's a difference. To our forebears, lust was always a sin, and the more you enjoyed it, the more sinful you were. We, on the other hand, tend to look on a roll in the hay as good, clean fun. Indeed, you're considered faintly sinful if you don't partake of a little lust now and then.

Yet there's one component of lust that we, as well as our ancestors, would probably view as unpleasant. That's selfishness. The essence of lust has always been the selfish pursuit of pleasure to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. Manipulative selfishness in sex remains as unpleasant today as it was centuries ago.

  • When you are sexually excited, will you go to bed with any man who happens to be handy?
  • Would you hit up a brothel or pimp for sexual services?
  • You want to have sex; your lover really had a lousy day at the office and says, "Not tonight, babe." Do you get angry?
  • Do you categorically refuse to do anything sexual for your lover unless you receive an equal measure of satisfaction from him?
  • When you're in bed with your partner, do you usually fantasize about someone else?
  • Would you sleep with a married person?
  • Have partners complained that you don't listen to their personal limits in bed?
  • Do you feel like you are entitled to sex?

Anger

There's nothing wrong with justified anger. If a stranger walks up to you on the street and spreads strawberry jam over your Yeezys, you're entitled to a touch of outrage. The trouble with anger is that it gets out of hand so easily. Anger is, in a word, addictive.

Once you get in the habit of anger, you have no trouble at all flying into rages over the most insignificant things. From a practical viewpoint, anger is worth avoiding because it makes you do so many things that are not in your best interest.

The angry person is always saying and doing things that he or she regrets. Worst of all, angry folks are tedious, dangerous, and overall unpleasant. We've got too many seething people running around making the rest of us miserable.

  • Is sarcasm your favorite conversational weapon?
  • Do you get angry about things over which you have no control (like when you're dealt a poor hand of cards)?
  • Have people called you passive-aggressive, or downright aggressive?
  • Do you frequently recall incidents that aroused your anger months or even years after they took place?
  • Do you find it impossible to accept an apology without delivering one last zinger to the person apologizing?
  • Do you put yourself in situations that make your anger inevitable? (For example: you hate poor service, yet you inevitably choose eight o'clock Saturday night to dine at the most popular restaurant in town. Then you have convulSions when the waiter can't remember if you ordered the franks and beans or the peanut-butter sandwich.)
  • Would you consider taking out your anger on animals and small children?
  • Have you hit your spouse, girlfriend, or lover?
  • Have you screamed at your spouse over a small slight?
  • Have you been barred from bars because of the many fights you've gotten into there?

Scoring & Explanation

Needless to say, the more 'yes' answers you have, the more evil you are. If your 'yeses' cluster under a particular vice, you may assume that you've stumbled on one of your "personality problem areas."

Now that you've taken the quiz, you might want to work at overcoming some of your more obvious vices. That's nice. But if you want to persist in your wickedness, that's fine, too. We always need a few sinners around. After all, what would writers like Dante, Shakespeare, and Chaucer have based their plot lines on if there hadn't been anyone like you around?

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About the Creator

Lizzie Boudoir

Thrice married, in love once, overly romantic, and hypersexual.

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    Lizzie BoudoirWritten by Lizzie Boudoir

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