Don't worry — this is no Catholic tract! I just thought it would be fun to put the medieval Seven Deadly Sins (and their virtuous opposites) under the microscope and discover what they may or may not have to teach us — again as background to our exploration of feelings and emotions . . .
(1) Lust/lechery (luxuria): excessive sexual thoughts and desires. Corresponding virtue: chastity (castitas).
(2) Gluttony (gula): excessive desire for food and drink leading to over-indulgence and over-consumption. Can result in illness, and the deprivation of the genuinely needy. Corresponding virtue: temperance (temperantia).
(3) Greed/avarice/covetousness (avaritia): excessive desire for wealth, status and power. Can result in betrayal, treason, bribery, corruption, trickery, deception, theft, violence and murder. Corresponding virtue: charity (caritas).
All these first three "sins", if taken to excess, may be considered self-centred, lustful appetites, demonstrating a lack of self control which can be dangerous to self and others.
(4) Envy (invidia): closely related to and often resulting in (3) greed. We are certain to cause ourselves torment and may also hurt others in our envious thoughts and pursuits. Corresponding virtue: kindness (humanitas).
(5) Sloth/acedia (socordia/acedia): or laziness, neglect of duties and responsibilities, listlessness — which may lead to melancholy, despair, depression, misery or even, in extreme cases, suicide. Corresponding virtue: diligence (industria).
(6) Anger/wrath (ira): associated with feelings of impatience, hatred, lack of self control — and can lead to acts of revenge, violence, even murder. Corresponding virtue: patience (patientia).
(7) Pride/vanity/vainglory (superbia/vanitas/vanagloria): boasting, hubris, an inflated view of oneself, an unhealthy preoccupation with and love of oneself, narcissism, a condescension even contempt towards others. Bob Dylan called it "the disease of conceit" in his eponymous song. Corresponding virtue: humility (humilitas).
First of all, I suppose one could say that some of these "vices" are pretty good in moderation — I'm thinking of lust, gluttony and sloth in particular. Personally, I couldn't think of anything better than lying in bed all day eating, drinking and having sex. But to do that the next day, and the next, and the next? Perhaps not . . .
Secondly, a certain amount of anger and pride may be viewed as a good thing: anger at injustice may provoke us into trying to remedy the injustice; and if we have pride in our home, our family, our achievements — well, that can't be so bad, can it?
Even a little envy can stir in us a desire to improve our lives . . .
Though the more I look at these Capital Vices — which came to us via The Book Of Proverbs, The Epistle To The Galatians, the fourth-century monk Evagrius Ponticus, Pope Gregory I and Dante's Divine Comedy — the more I'm convinced they really are things to avoid.
I think what I'm really saying here is that a light sinful touch can be ok, even beneficial, but take that soft fingering to the level of heavy groping and you're in for trouble.