William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Defining "Pride" In The Sinful Sense

I commented:

"It seems that members of the LDS church often refer to "pride" as the underlying cause of just about all sin. I have always viewed pride in a much narrower sense. Pride, in my opinion, is the elevation of one's own honor and prestige over rationale ethical principals. Examples:

1(a). King Noah and Abinadi: When the king was about to release Abinadi because of Abinadi's persuasuave sermon, the King's men appealed to the King's ego with flattery, etc., which caused the king to reverse his compassionate impulse and have Abinadi killed.

1(b). Saul, being angered at the people's love for David, gets jealous and hates David.

2. A man, though convinced that he has sinned, refuses to repent because he does not want anyone to say, "I told you so" and make him feel ashamed.

Examples where a person sins, but not out of "pride" as I have defined it:

3. A person continues smoking because it is just too hard to quit.

4. A person, honestly believing that black people are best taken care of when they are slaves ruled by white owners, engages in slavery.

5. A married woman, without justification, breaks her marriage vow and commits adultery.

Any thoughts? What is a concise, sensible definition of sinful pride in your view?"

And in response to the following comment:

"Pride is refusal to submit to the commandments and will of God. Satan rebelled against God and Jesus Christ because he thought he could do better. So it has been for everyone who has rebelled against God ever since. When you criticize Church leaders, that is pride. When you refuse to accept the word of the living prophet, that is pride. When you try to atone for your own sins, that is pride. When you justify your sins, that is pride. When you attempt to say that you deserve something because you think are better than someone else, that is pride."

I responded:

As you have defined it, it seems to me that the definition of pride is the same as the definition of sin. If that is the definition, then why even use the word "pride" at all? Moreover, I find it terribly troubling that you would define criticizing Church leaders as automatically constituting sinful pride. There may very well be legitimate criticisms of church leaders (i.e., suppose a bishop molests an eight-year-old in a baptismal interview). That does not make the criticism sinful pride. The whole notion that we are never to criticize leadership is antithetical to the church's ideal that truth must reign supreme.

"Pride" in the sinful sense, IMO, is holding yourself to a more lenient standard than you hold others, or favoring your own short-term interests over the legitimate, logically defensible interests of the community. It is thinking that, because you are inherently better or worth more than other people, you deserve special honor, treatment, or glory.

By contrast, I do not consider it sinful pride for a person to demand humane treatment from other people, or to claim freedom of conscience, or to refuse to submit to any rule or idea which is contrary to their ability to accept it by reason, experience, and logic.

In the example of Satan, my understanding from what I have heard in church is that the real problem with his plan (in terms of his own culpability) was that he wanted the glory for himself. The Father asked for proposals; Jesus gave one and Lucifer gave one. I don't think we can criticize Lucifer for his honest belief (at least initially) that God's spirit children would all be better off if they were deprived of free agency and forced to be "good." But reason during the debate stage should have convinced him that God's spirit children would experience little if any spiritual growth if they were never given the opportunity to make bad choices and learn from their mistakes. I suspect that the "pride" of which Satan was guilty was the disregarding of reason and logic because his ego was too bruised, and he did not want to acknowledge the fact that his proposal (that mankind be deprived of free agency so that all would be saved) was flawed. To "guard his honor," and not admit a mistake, Lucifer rebelled against God and vowed revenge, becoming Satan and getting cast out. In effect, I think that Satan committed the sin of pride when he cast reason aside and decided that power (his power), not reason, should take precedence. But to argue that Satan committed the sin of pride, merely because he initially believed that his own plan made sense and was superior to Jesus' plan, is a huge oversimplification and implies that, unless we unquestioningly accept everything we are told by our leaders, we are sinning. In an odd twist of irony, that very idea (the oversimplification) is in opposition to the plan that God eventually settled on, namely that we would come to Earth and have to make tough decisions with limited information, walking with uncertainty and learning from experience, formulating initial opinions but then revising them as reason and experience dictate.

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