See Lent 101 for the context in which these are written.
Fascinatingly, for medieval writers, this included alcohol abuse. (Food may be short, but booze rarely is.) Another “duh,” at least superficially, but the inverse skate is as insidious, and includes so, so many of us: When we’re obsessed with food in the midst of plenty, it’s also a form of gluttony. Dieting is gluttony; what one needs instead is to eat in a healthy manner without making yourself–and your friends and family–crazy. (Which is selfish; see above.)
Being a bitch at heart, sometimes when I see a family from any group with the stepstool progression of five or more kids, I think “Yo! Y’all need to get yourselves another hobby!” This goes for all the Lust cadets:
As soon as we got to this one, there was a lot of growling out there in the audience about “healthy, natural sexuality” and whatnot. The people who talk about Lust are kind of stupid. And mean. And not getting any themselves. Etc.
Sex is a part of our humanity, and the issue needs to be addressed in a healthy and non-harmful manner. True Lust is damaging: Sexual abuse; infidelity. A more modern context includes sexual objectification and pornography addiction. (If you have homosexuality on your Lust list, I’ll see y’all later down in Pride.)
Yet there are deeper concerns with the modern anti-Lust mindset, which deserve examination:
There’s a huge misconception out there that men are naturally polygamous, while women are naturally monogamous; this last a confusing notion when you consider the vast array of cultural practices all over the world dedicated to keeping we ladies from scampering about. (What amuses me is that the arguments supporting this are frequently drawn from other species’ behavior: Hey everybody, forget the bowling! Let’s all go over to Sid’s house and eat some lice!) Thus, the misleading word here is “natural.” (OK, now you get the italics.)
This is a dangerous, dangerous word. It’s “natural” to commit every Sin on this list, (which is kind of the point). But, far more importantly, it’s natural to defend your loved ones from harm, to feel perky when there’s nice weather, and to cry when you feel sad. It’s also natural to die in hideous agony, to shit when and wherever you like . . . you get the drift. A more useful way of looking at it is, well, whether or not it’s useful.
Having sex with anybody you want to is one thing, if you’re a middle-class white person, with cultural values promoting access to birth control, health care to handle STIs; and are able to afford and raise kids who lack attachment disorders and are given sufficient life skills and education for them to succeed. It’s quite another thing for the people whose culture has as a central feature the concept “baby daddy.”
Of course, some of you have identified the first group as the polyamorists: I am amused by the naivete of the idea that this is part of the Brave New World. In fact, the concept seems to be periodically um, invented every several generations: The Libertines. Free Love–which was at the turn of the century; the term was later co-opted by the Hippies. (Mrs. Patrick Campbell said that bit about “not caring what people did as long as they didn’t frighten the horses” back in 1910.) ‘Tis new to thee, campers. Garçon, a #10 can of get-over-it at this table, please?
While cheerfully conceding the consent point, note that seemingly the majority of the people who have assumed this as a self-identification have tied themselves into a subculture where perforce one’s primary definition is who–and how many–people with whom they have sex. Like many subcultures, this one is stifling. “Funny,” “smart,” “perceptive,” “giving,” “good at Scrabble” and whatnot are pre-empted by “puts out.” (Really. I know scads of these people who have a lot of the qualities of the first part–and who at least seem to superficially appreciate mine–but because I don’t wanna have sex with them, I’m just not on the A list. Or even the Q list.)
Moreover–and what I personally find really annoying–in framing themselves as oppositional to the dominant culture, they have set up just as rigid a dogma; exemplified by a button I once saw reading, “Monogamy=Monotony.” They are the new superior beings, and everybody else is unevolved and Doing It Wrong. *sigh* Some people just plain old want and are happy with monogamy.
How limiting. How sad. How obsessive with sex. How Lustful.