Can all sins be reduced to just one sin: pride? Is pride essentially the root cause of all sins?
Pres. Benson’s talk, Beware of Pride clarifies that the comparison is what makes it pride, not where you see yourself in the comparison. Pride is the opposite of the first and great commandment (and the second which is like unto it), to love God and your fellow man; he calls it the fundamental sin.
Opposition to God may be manifest by the following symptoms:
- Limiting God’s influence in your life through lack of faith, lack of willingness, lack of supplication, over-analysis or disbelief in whatever contradicts your preconceptions.
- Refusing to draw near to God or to be open to spiritual experiences. Trivializing the spiritual experiences we have or trying to argue them away.
- Seeking for signs to prove the existence of God or His will. Spiritualizing non-spiritual matters (e.g. having a testimony of folklore or cultural matters).
Opposition to our fellow men includes things like:
- Needing to be right or to belittle whatever is different. Being contentious. Being easily offended. Trivializing others’ spiritual experiences, views, tastes or intellect because they differ from yours.
- Pitting any measuring device against others (intellect, opinions, works, wealth, talents, tastes, heritage, righteousness). Self-justification and rationalization can follow. Those who are prideful have a hard time learning from others.
- Caring what people think of you (social or cultural benefits), not what God thinks of you. Doing things for the sake of appearance. Being inauthentic or dishonest with others. The prideful don’t want to admit they don’t know something or made a mistake.
Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves (just like both Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy are blinded by their own pride). Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous.
Both the orthodox and heterodox can fall prey to this sin, working mothers and SAHMs alike, gay Mormons and straight Mormons, leaders and lay members. Mastery over one’s pride can take a lifetime. Consider these manifestations of pride:
- Both anti-authoritarian behavior and authoritative behavior are prideful. A proud person hates the fact that someone is above her or him and resists that authority. A proud person in authority hates the fact that someone is not recognizing her or his authority and pushes all the more.
- Both the self-righteous and the critical are prideful. A person who believes he is more righteous than another is guilty of pride. A person who scorns the self-righteous person as a hypocrite (not as genuine as I am) is also guilty of pride.
- Both the offender and the defensive are guilty of pride. Arguing and contention are symptomatic of pride, whether one initiates it or attempts to prove one’s superiority over the other person. It distances us as siblings in Christ.
- Both the rich and the poor can be prideful. The prideful put their heart on riches, whether they have them (and keep them) or don’t have them (and covet them) or judge those who don’t share them.
- Both the intellectual and the unlearned can be prideful. The intellectuals feel superior to those who know less or have less curiosity, while those who scorn the intellectuals may be equally guilty of pride if they judge intellectuals as less faithful or valiant than they are.
Pres. Benson warned that pride was the great stumblingblock for the church. This talk was delivered in May of 1989, almost 20 years ago. How is the church doing? Have we become more or less prideful? And does the b’nacle foster the sin of pride or just reveal what is already there? Can we overcome pride or is it just part of human nature? Discuss.