The Soul, Addiction, and Sin Taxes

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  • Title: The Soul, Addiction, and Sin Taxes
  • Author(s): Corey Harris
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Religion in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society
  • Keywords: Addiction, Thomas Aquinas, Sin Taxes
  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2016
  • ISSN: 2154-8633 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2154-8641 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Harris, Corey. 2016. "The Soul, Addiction, and Sin Taxes." The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society 7 (1): 29-37. doi:10.18848/2154-8633/CGP/v07i01/29-37.


This article presents a spiritual understanding of addiction based on Thomas Aquinas’ presentation of the relationship between our sensory passions, intellectual affections, and rational will. While all living things have a soul, it is only the human soul that exists in God’s image in possessing reason and will. The human soul is naturally directed toward a right relationship with God. However, the feedback loop that exists between our senses and reason can lead to a crippling of the will that disables our ability to properly relate to God. Once a person’s will is broken, he or she comes to rest in despair due to his or her inability to live virtuously. This condition is properly referred to as addiction. Though the state should not be theologically rooted, it does retain the requirement of supporting the common good. It is unjust for the state to profit from nurturing and taxing addictions. Sin taxes are levied on products and services that are highly addictive and can disfigure an individual’s soul. Particular sin taxes to be discussed include those related to alcohol and tobacco, gambling, and marijuana.