Marshall Segal in the introduction to Killjoys: The Seven Deadly Sins tells the story of a woman named Hannah who abandons her home. Sadly, she has entangled herself into a web of lies—call it an attempt to disguise her motives. Hannah’s lies are meant to cover her sins. She has sought to deliberately deceive those closest to her. It could be said she is wrecking the family’s affairs with her very own.
With Hannah there is always something more to what she has been saying. She’s been handing out half-poison pills to those around her that look like daily vitamins. Sure, they taste sweet and are easy to swallow, but the poison is slowly and steadily killing the body. Segal writes:1
Their marriage, once sweet, had become a nightmare. Those first days, maybe even months, of marital bless felt so distant and unfamiliar. It was hard for her husband to believe they were ever even real… not knowing what to say to his confused and wounded children that night, dad knelt down between their beds, and he prayed:
God, please rescue my bride—the mother of my precious children—from this destructive, suicidal path. She’s left us for other lovers, believing that with them she’ll find the protection and affection she craves. For as long as she runs from the promises we made and the family we’ve built together, graciously cause her to be unsatisfied, and empty, and lonely. Maybe then, in her despair and need, she will remember us, return to our family, and be Wife and Mom again. If she would only come back home, I would welcome her back into my arms and heart as if it were our wedding day. I would love her as if we never lost her. Bring her home, for the sake of your Name, Amen. (Hosea 2:5-7)
There is much, much more to this story.
If you are familiar with the book of Hosea and the love (albeit a one-sided love) of a prophet for his adulterous wife Gomer; then you also know that Hosea portrays God’s faithfulness, love, and forgiveness toward His corrupt and rebellious people (Israel).
In Segal’s story this means that we are Hannah. Each of us have committed spiritual adultery.
The names of our seven affairs are Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony, and Lust. And the betrayed, but faithful husband is Jesus—our first love, our lost love, our new love…
Pride puts herself above God. She foolishly and suicidally contends for supremacy with God, opposing Him and inviting His wrath. Envy can’t help being unhappy at the blessing and fortune of others. She seethes as others succeed, and even secretly smiles when they fail. Unrighteous Anger viciously attempts to protect a flawed love. She explodes over selfish, irrelevant things, and carelessly overlooks the things that offend and dishonor God. Sloth desperately attempts to control life in order to preserve her comforts, dreading being interrupted by the needs of others. She is lazy-souled—bored with God and doomed to a slow death. Greed overwhelms her victim with an inordinate desire for wealth and possessions. She covets what she shouldn’t or too desperately and impatiently wants what she should. Gluttony looks to food to satisfy some deeper craving, whether for comfort, purpose, or control. She worships food. Lust is a sexual desire that dishonors its object and disregards God. She irrationally seizes sex for selfish gain, believing its pleasure will fill the emptiness she feels.
I was using this little book, along with another (Hit List: Taking Aim at the Seven Deadly Sins), during my morning devotions to hone in on specific sins in my life. Both are quick reads. At a chapter-a-day I had finished my study on the subject in no more than three weeks.
Pick a month and pour yourself into these gems. You will walk away with a greater understanding of the pitiful pleasures that rob us of our joy in the Christian life.
For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom 8:13)
For me, myself, and I: the books were excellent—helping me to examine my heart, to learn myself how to recognize these gateway sins, so that I could kill them quickly before taking root in my life.
These positive outcomes are also my desire for our youth at the church; and so we’re using them as a resource for our teachers this fall to teach through these joy-killers.