Disclaimer one: I am not a Christian, nor do I have any religious agendas with this post.
Disclaimer two: This is a quite lengthy post, with a considerable amount of preliminary stuff, and also a few related digressions.
With this post, I want to discuss the scope of what Sloth means, as I find the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins highly intriguing. I also want to write a book about it. But to do that, I must know what all the sins really mean, and "sloth" has been the most perplexing one of them. I hope this is the right place to ask, as I fear I might get some biased answers on a religious site, no offense intended.
So, the obvious first. Indolence. The avoidance of physical exertion and work. The opposite virtue of sloth is diligence, which supports this. But the opposing virtues aren't always the exact opposites, as they all usually have some more unrelated implications - look at Wrath vs Patience. So, understanding the countering virtue isn't enough to fully understand the sin.
Reading on it a little, I saw that sloth is really just inaction when action is morally required. Now, I have thought about this interpretation of sloth a lot. "What if sloth is really just immoral inaction"? Now, this seems to coincide with something else I read about sloth, that "it can be borne by the other sins", like e.g. wroth; "A son fails to fulfill his duties on the farm, because he is angry at his father".
This then makes sloth the odd one out in the lethal septet, as all the other sins are at least made out to be "independent". There are probably many psychologists, sociologists and philosophers that would disagree with that. I mean, what if you kill your neighbor (wrath) because you're envious (envy) of their marriage, children, house and general life? That is an example of a sin being borne by another. Wrath being born out of envy. Though, there are a myriad of different interpretations of that. Some would say it's a mix. A wroth action, with envious motivations, or conversely, wrath, fueled by envy. Envy, enacted by wroth. Others would say it is the motivation that matters, and the actions are irrelevant. This has been my understand for a long time. Let me define it more clearly:
All the sins have "younger brothers". Many would say greed has ambition. Now, many would also say, me included, that ambition is a good thing. Yet, it has led to so many terrible things. So, my understanding is, when the direct, conscious result of ambition is bad, when the very enaction of it is bad, then it becomes greed. So, lets say you work your ass off in a company, because you have the ambition of becoming the CEO. Maybe you even have good motivations behind that ambition, wanting to provide for your family. Or maybe it is just a drive you have, good ole diligence. But then, you come to a crossroad, where to continue on your trajectory towards the position of CEO, you have to screw over someone. The specifics are irrelevant, for now. If you chose to do this, all for that sweet CEO position, then the ambition becomes greed.
Now, for the specifics. Let's say, the "screwing over" is actually killing someone. Killing your competitor. Well, murder sounds pretty wroth, right? But, in my understanding, killing your competitor for the purposes of becoming CEO isn't wrath, it is greed. Murder is a sin, but not a specific one. It is simply a bad action, and the reason for it is what determines the Deadly Sin. Sorry if I spent too much time on this preliminary stuff, but I just wanted to make my understanding, a understanding, crystal clear, so that we can more easily decode sloth together. You might not agree with my understanding, but at least now, you hopefully understand it, and therefore understand my question.
So because of this understanding, sloth is quite unique. As I said with the example above, sloth is more of an action or habit, but it is fueled by other things. Usually, that is. But sloth can be borne out of itself. I mean, you can laze on the sofa all day. And that in itself isn't a sin, at least to me. Laziness is the "younger brother". But it is when that laziness has bad ramifications it becomes sloth. Like for example, a parent spending all their time on the couch, instead of being with their children and spouse. Negligence, caused by sloth.
But some say this type of sloth is a bit excused. I mean, what can you do if you're low on energy? It's like blaming a computer for shutting down if it hasn't been charged for an entire day? Some people are simply born with bad, bodily energy management. Well, I totally agree with that argument, but if you use it, you have to also understand how it applies to all the other sins. Because all the other sins are also products of things outside of the individual's control, whether those things are biological or of nurture.
Wrath is simply a tendency towards violence, which is very much a neurological thing. Some are born like this, some become like this through life. Of course, a wroth person can chose to change, to try their best. But so can a sloth person. They can chose to eat better, to get enough sleep and to even see a doctor if they need energy supplements. But, they don't, because they're slothful. And then it really comes down to a fundamental philosophical question that has spawned many of my debates with people. Can you blame someone for their nature? Some will say, even though it isn't someone's fault that they are a certain way, it is their fault that they don't chose to change. But I think that is a bit short-sighted, because whether they chose to change or not, is also a part of their nature, their nature being the thing they didn't chose in the first place. That is why I have no hate for psychopaths or murderous fanatics - the two being two sides of the same coin: psychopaths doing bad things because they were born to, and fanatics doing bad things because they were indoctrinated in that way. To me, those two are basically the same, morally.
But this is a bit of digression, yet relevant in understanding the moral differences between sloth and the rest of the sins.
Sloth is also described as "apathy". Yet again, I just view apathy as a force of inaction, the inaction being mistook for sloth. Though, it seems that whatever people made and sculpted the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins created a huge scope for sloth. In the religious sense, sloth is apathy, low energy and any other "protests" to work, for whatever reason. Though there is one last question. Cowardice. Fear is often the reason for inaction. Yet, how is "fear" and "laziness" anything alike? Note I said "laziness", as the full scope of sloth is ambiguous, hence this very post. Well, I wouldn't say "fear" and "laziness" are in any way the same thing, or on being within the category of the other.
And if we look at the composition of sloth, there are also contradictions. "Apathy" and "fear" are actually opposing each other. "A lack of feeling of self and other" was mention when describing sloth. "Fear" is the compulsion to save oneself, or someone else than one cares about. One might not even personally know this "other", but the fact that they are a human being can put fear into us as we see them do something dangerous. That's the empathetic side of fear, I guess. As the other side is the mainly instinctive one, the standard reaction of flight, fight or freeze whenever danger rears its head. Is said "mainly", since you're life might be going well, and you're happy for that, and you don't want to lose those things that make you happy.
Anyways, digression aside, is "inaction due to fear" a part of "sloth"? Or, to merge that with the large question at hand. "What is the full scope of Sloth?" I'm open for all discussion relating to what I've said in this post, though try to steer it towards "sloth". I understand I've said and claimed many things, and I'd understand if you'd want to touch on any of those claims.