On Pride & Humility

Pride should not be celebrated. Shocking, I know. Although I am purposely choosing to study pride and its opposing virtue, humility, during what has been dubbed “pride month,” my aim is not to launch a polemic assault on the LGBT movement. Of course, no one should be surprised to find those who gladly rebel against the created order for marriage and the family adopting pride as their chief virtue. When spurning the laws of God and nature, the only action left to take is shaking one’s fist to the sky. So, it is certainly significant that the LGBT movement has clothed themselves with pride.

To be fair, however, there is another usage of the word that is less sinful. Lewis writes explains:

We say in English that a man is ‘proud’ of his son, or his father, or regiment, and it may be asked whether ‘pride’ in this sense is a sin. I think it depends on what, exactly, we mean by ‘proud of’. Very often, in such sentences, the phrase ‘is proud of’ means ‘has a warm-hearted admiration for’. Such an admiration is, of course, very far from being a sin. But it might, perhaps, mean that the person in question gives himself airs on the ground of his distinguished father, or because he belongs to a famous regiment. This would, clearly, be a fault; but even then, it would be better than being proud simply of himself. To love and admire anything outside yourself is to take one step away from utter spiritual ruin; though we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God.[1]

I present this quote simply to say that the pride that the LGBT movement celebrates is pointedly not the “warm-hearted admiration” that Lewis says ‘pride’ may be used to indicate. Indeed, LGBT pride is utterly self-centered and vocally so. We are, therefore, not speaking of a harmless, sinless usage of the word ‘pride’; instead, we are witnessing a celebration of “utter spiritual ruin.”

Even though this is the case, I hope to aim at a broader picture. What I am mostly interested in is how quickly the rest of society has happily embraced pride as a virtue. The relatively small percentage of individuals that are represented by the letters LGBT wields a disproportionately large influence upon society as a whole. Indeed, now that secularism is the principal religion of our day, it seems as though the LGBT movement has taken on a sort prophetic role, while scientists have been assigned to the work of priests. And the prophets of secularism have decreed that pride is now a virtue rather than a vice.

This is a seismic shift from our Christianity-influenced culture of only a hundred years ago, but more importantly, it is a blatant display of rebels reveling in their rebellion. Today, we have collectively formed a Romans 1 society, giving quick approval to those who have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). The thrice repeated “God gave them up…” rings a solemn warning (vv. 24, 26, 28). After all, “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Indeed, the destruction that the LORD brings is often simply giving a sinner over to the consequences, both temporal and eternal, that sin naturally brings.

Pride, therefore, is no trivial matter, and unfortunately, it is one that we each must grapple with. Lewis was right to note that pride is the one “vice of which no man in the world is free.”[2] It lurks in some hearts and reigns in others, but none are fully free from its clutches.

My aim, then, each Friday of this month is to see more clearly what Scripture has to say to us about pride and humility. In order to accomplish this goal, we will study three connected texts: Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6, and 1 Peter 5:5.

Proverbs 3:34 is the base text, declaring: “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.”

Both James and Peter then cite this verse from the Greek version, saying: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

I pray that through these connected studies we will behold the beauty of humility and grace as well as shudder at the very thought of making ourselves into enemies of God through our pride.

[1] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 127

[2] Ibid. 121.  


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