11 Primary Passions

Teaching of Virtue

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11 Primary Passions

There are 11 primary passions—five in the face of difficulties and trials, six in the face of desires and temptations.

The passions in the face of difficulties and trials are hope, despair, daring, fear, and anger. When something good is difficult or arduous to attain—you have hope if you believe you can attain it, despair if you don’t. Then, when faced with a trial, obstacle, or evil while pursuing the good—you have daring if you believe you can overcome it, fear if you don’t. Finally, if the good is attained—you are at peace; if not, you have anger (noting, anger here does not refer to the vice of anger, but rather, the disdain of what is evil or unfitting).

The passions in the face of desires and temptations are love, hatred, desire, aversion, joy, and sadness. When something good presents itself—you have love; when not good or evil—you have hatred (noting, love and hatred here simply mean the animal-like attraction for what is fitting and repulse for what is not). You are then moved to attain what is good—which is desire, or to avoid what is not—which is aversion. Finally, if what is good is attained—you have joy; if not—you have sadness.

When it comes to the passions, know this—disordered passions are drawn toward what is evil and away from what is good; well-ordered passions are drawn toward what is good and away from what is evil.

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Related Scripture

“...so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” — 1 Peter 4:2 (ESV)

“...training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…” — Titus 2:12 (ESV)

“He does well to rise early, who seeks what is good. But whoever is a seeker of evils shall be oppressed by them.” — ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭11:27‬ (CPDV)

“An untamed horse becomes stubborn” — Sirach 30:8 (CPDV)

“To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” — Proverbs 8:13 (NIV)

“Be angry but do not sin.” — Ephesians 4:26 (NRSV)

“Hate evil and love good…” — Amos 5:15 (NRSV)

“Make it your aim to do what is right, not what is evil, so that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty really will be with you, as you claim he is. Hate what is evil, love what is right, and see that justice prevails in the courts. Perhaps the Lord will be merciful to the people of this nation who are still left alive.” — ‭‭Amos‬ ‭5‬:‭14‬-‭15‭ (GNTD)

“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” — Galatians 6:8 (NIV)

“The simplicity of the just shall direct them, and the rebellion of the perverse will devastate them.” — ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭11:3 (CPDV)

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” — Romans 12:21 (ESV)

“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” — Proverbs 3:7 (ESV)

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” — Romans 6:12 (ESV)

Related Quotes

“Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil.” ― Marcus Aurelius

“Evil results, however, when our passions overtake our intellect. When the passions get the better of the intellect, this usually results in sin. When the passions are fully mastered by the intellect, you have a beautiful and passionate saint. The goal is not to get rid of the passions (Stoicism) but to tame the passions (Christianity).” — Dr. Taylor Marshall

“A man who governs his passions is master of the world. We must either command them, or be enslaved by them.” — St. Dominic

“If you have the desire and passion to do something, and it's within God's will, you will achieve it.” — Nick Vujicic

“Happiness and health must be earned by absolute control of the emotional nature.” — Florence Scovel Shinn

“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, "You are mad; you are not like us." — St. Anthony the Great

“Desire to see God, be fearful of losing Him, and find joy in everything that can lead to Him. If you act in this way, you will always live in great peace.” — St. Teresa of Avila

“The Christian faith makes it possible for us nobly to accept that which cannot be changed, and to meet disappointments and sorrow with an inner poise, and to absorb the most intense pain without abandoning our sense of hope.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We are born to lose and to perish, to hope and to fear, to vex ourselves and others; and there is no antidote against a common calamity but virtue; for the foundation of true joy is in the conscience.” — Seneca

“Where perception is, there also are pain and pleasure, and where these are, there, of necessity, is desire.” — Aristotle

“If you don't behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave.” — Ven. Fulton J. Sheen

“I call myself a Peaceful Warrior...because the battles we fight are on the inside.” — Socrates

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Lesson Plan

For your family, small group, or personal reflection.

STEP 1: Introduction

Example: "I'm going to play a short video on the topic of the ‘11 Primary Passions’ of our soul. After the video, I have some questions to gather your thoughts and get the discussion started. We’ll then wrap up with a closing prayer."

STEP 2: Watch Video (or listen)

Watch (or listen to) the video of the teaching (cast to your TV via YouTube). If time allows, also read the teaching, related Scriptures, and related quotes.

STEP 3: Discussion / Reflection

  • What are the five passions in the face of difficulties and trials (please explain what they are and how they work)?

  • What are the six passions in the face of desires and temptations (please explain what they are and how they work)?

  • What can you do in your life to better order your passions to align with God’s will (rather than the will of the world or the will of self)?

  • Did any of the related Scriptures or quotes stand out to you (please elaborate)?

  • Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

STEP 4: Wrap Up & Closing Prayer

Summarize and wrap up the discussion. Then, conclude with a sincere and humble prayer from the heart.

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