The Pride Effect
Pride is one of the greatest hinderances to us recognizing the value of other people. It creates an inner myopia constricting our vision to what we need, desire and believe is important while leading us to believe we have the right to exploit, harm and ignore others to achieve those aims. Moreover, it serves as the basis for justifying our actions, however destructive they may be, as being moral, legal, healthy and right.
A Cultural View
We see these effects play out in our modern era. The pornography industry stands out as blatant example of us having allowed countless individuals, male and female, to have their sexuality (i.e., body / person) captured in film, demeaned, and brutalized for the sake of selfish pleasure and profit. Our world has been so inundated with distorted and unhealthy depictions of human sexuality via pornography, they've been normalized, celebrated and engrafted into mainstream culture.
Worse yet, pornography is reaching into the lives of our youth, serving as a model of accepted and permissible sexual behavior.
- 93% of boys and 62% of girls were exposed to pornography before 18.
14% of boys and 9% of girls were exposed to pornography before 13 (Covenant Eyes Pornography Statistics, 2015 Edition).
In what manner is this acceptable? I believe, in the core of who we are, we recognize the pornography industry is a horrendous institution needing to be shut down. However, I wonder how long our selfishness and pride will permit such an institution to remain. This is one of the many areas in our world reflecting our self-aggrandizement and the results which follow (i.e., abortion, racism, war, infidelity, etc.).
Where Change Begins
How can we begin to change these pervasive elements in society? I believe the answer to this question requires us to reconcile with these elements as being outward extensions of what lies within. In other words, change begins at the level of our heart.
In reflecting on this type of change in my own life, and in practicing as a Marriage & Family Therapist over the last decade, I've come to realize it becomes possible when we enter a place of humility. This is central, because humility allows us to see the darkness in our heart for what it is. The cover up ceases and we come face to face with our imperfections.
I'll be honest, this is a hard place to go emotionally. It's never pleasant to realize we are a faulted being who has allowed pride to blind us to the way in which we've acted selfishly, abused our power, and sought gain at the expense of others. Yet, entering such a place is needed, because we become aware of the wounds and frailties within, and can begin doing the spiritual work needed to address them along with the negative results of our actions over time.
We Don't Have The Right
Scripture provides us with multiple narratives of individuals who faced moments of great pride and great humility. One of these narratives involves King David and his actions towards Bathsheba and her husband Uriah (2 Samuel 11 and 12). In reading the text we find David tempted by Bathsheba's beauty and pridefully summoning her, as if he had the right to sleep with her as King of Israel, knowing full well she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite.
After committing adultery and arranging the death of Uriah, David is confronted by the prophet Nathan and quickly acknowledges his sin. Though he humbled himself and his life was spared by God, his family life was marred by the consequences of his actions from that day forward. I wonder if David would have made the same decisions regarding Bathsheba had he first grounded himself in humility, and been able to foresee the unspeakable heartbreak he would experience.
In considering this example, I would like to pose a few questions to you and I:
Are we willing to learn from such an example, see how our pride blinds us to the fact we don't have the right to simply do as we please, as guidelines have been set by God for our benefit and those of others?
Are we open to humbling ourselves and acknowledging our imperfections, and the true nature and consequences of our vanity and selfishness?
Will we recognize that our stubborn pride will usher into our lives utter heartbreak, the likes of which we would have never wished upon ourselves?
My prayer is that we have hearts to answer in the affirmative, that we may have the ability to foresee the effects of pride more clearly and make sound decisions related to self and other. That being said, is there something which generates a humility and capacity to turn away from evil? Yes.
The Fear of the Lord
I believe we are far more inclined to challenge notions of pride and consistently venture towards humility based on an established fear of the Lord. To clarify, I'm not referring to humility in the sense of a superficial descriptor we may apply to someone we deem as nice.
Even the nicest of people can have the most sinister motives. Rather, I'm speaking of humility in deeper terms, where we are clear on the fact we aren't God and have no right to pretend we are, in spite of how smart, advanced or enlightened we may be.
Tis true that even the greatest intellectual can acknowledge the need to be humble before God, and rightly so, for the more we learn about our world the more its splendor confirms what our inner man so often seeks to deny; we are the handiwork of God and humility before Him is the only true and honest recourse if we seek to deviate from a vain and selfish heart.
"By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the
fear of the Lord one turns away from evil." - Proverbs 16:6 (ESV)
Eric Gomez, MS LMFT MHP
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Fulfilled Christian Counseling
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