Sin, Passion and Vice – What Is the Difference?

In Greek ‘to sin’ means “to miss,” in the sense of missing or not reaching a goal.  If a person is hungry, he can buy a bun and coffee, or he can steal this bun or take it away from a kid. The need is the same, but it can be satisfied in different ways, and sin is the satisfaction of a natural need in an unnatural way.

Passion is an enduring skill for committing sin. Once having committed a sin and experiencing a thrill, a person decides to repeat it. Gradually, he develops a need for such unnatural satisfaction. With frequent repetition of a sinful action, a conditioned reflex is developed. Later a person would be glad to give it up, but he just can’t. 

A person, for example, has no natural need to smoke. There is a need to research something new, to find an answer to the question “What is like?”  Having tried for the first, second, third time, it is difficult to stop. Sin has the same property: the more a person surrenders to it, the harder to get rid of it later.

There is an aphoristic definition of passion by Saint Isaac the Syrian: “A sinner is a dog that licks a saw and gets drunk from the taste of its own blood.” A person realizes that he is devouring himself, but he enjoys it and can’t help himself.

Vice is a combination of the first two concepts. It can be compared to sin – it is also a damage, a failure. On the other hand, people who have formed an unnatural need, people devoted to passion, are called vicious. Therefore, I think that vice is more a social definition, a kind of assessment of people who have formed a habit of unnatural pleasures.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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