The scandal of pride

Today’s Pulse includes a section from a recent blog post by Pastor John Ortberg on the christianitytoday.com website. The post was a response to the recent resignation of Mark Driscoll, pastor of the megachurch Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and the summary given by the Mars Hill Board of Overseers. I found Pastor Ortberg’s insights, as well as the C.S. Lewis quote, to be very insightful and worthy of reflection. Here are Pastor Ortberg’s words:

I was struck by the language quoted in news reports yesterday to describe this situation. The pastor, the board said, had been guilty of arrogance—along with other attitudes and behaviors associated with arrogance. But had not been charged with “immorality.”
When did arrogance cease to be immoral?


I suspect that most folks in our evangelical subculture will understand that “immorality” is really being used as a substitute term for sexual misbehavior. But why would we reduce such an important word to code language for one area of misconduct?

C.S. Lewis wrote: “If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins…. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil. Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

I suppose one reason we miss this is that pride attacks us on a sliding scale. An act of promiscuity is not abstract; pride is always a  matter of degree and open to subjective interpretation and harder to diagnose.

But the word “immoral” needs not to be collapsed into one category. Of course, there are important reasons why sexual violations may play a unique role in a pastor’s needing to leave church work… When we use the word “immorality” as a synonym for sexual misconduct, we communicate to the broader world that we are obsessed with sexuality, and that we do not regard other areas (humility, integrity, concern for the poor) as carrying the same moral weight.

My words now: I remember having a similar epiphany a year ago. I mentioned to someone how historically at NewLife, we have had our share of issues with communication and conflict, but that thankfully we have never had any scandals or gross sin. In my mind, I was thinking of sexual misconduct or financial misdeeds. But the person to whom I was speaking pointed out that the conflicts we have been through as a church have indeed been full of gross sin. Just because those sins were not sexual or financial in nature does not make them any less heinous.

I appreciated the perspective that the C.S. Lewis quote sheds on our sin. Yes, the scandalous sins may be the ones that make the headlines, but the greatest sin is indeed pride. It is pride that causes us to believe that the good that we have experienced is due to our own efforts and talents and not to God’s undeserved grace. It is pride that causes us to rely on ourselves and not to depend upon the Lord in prayer. It is pride that causes us to mistreat our brothers and sisters and sit in judgment upon them, because we are so sure that we have the proper perspective on everything. It is pride that leads to a lack of honesty, a lack of repentance, and ultimately to a lack of reconciliation and peace in our relationships as well as a lack of true community in our church. And yes, it is often pride that ultimately leads to sexual immorality and financial misdeeds, among many, many other sins.

So, as we consider the words of Pastor Ortberg and C.S. Lewis, let us confess our pride before God and treat it as the scandal it really is.
Posted in
Posted in , ,

No Comments


Recent

Archive

 2023

Categories

Tags

1 Corinthians 10 1 Thessalonians 5 2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Timothy 4 Abundant Life Adoption Affirmation American cullture America Anger Anonymity Anthropology Anxiety Apologetics Approval Arguments Atheism Baptism Barnabas Battle Be still Bible Study Bible reading Bible study fellowship Bible Billy Graham Bob Pierce Bonhoeffer Books Breath Prayer Brennan Manning Brian Fearon Bronx Busyness C.S. Lewis Cape Coast Castle Central African Republic Character Charles Spurgeon Charleston Cheap grace Christian media Christian privilege Christian publishing Christmas Church growth Church life Church College Commitment Communication Community Compassion Competition Confidence Contentment Coronavirus Counseling Courage Cove Service Cowardice Craig Wolfram Critical Race Theory Criticism Cross Culture D.L. Moody Daniel David Death Deborah Despair Discernment Discipleship Discipline Distractions Division E.M Bounds Easter Ebenzer Ecuador Edward Kimball Election Elisabeth Elliot Enabling Encouragement Endurance Envy Ephesians Eternal life Eternity Evaluation Evangelism Faith False Teachers Fame Family Fasting Father Fear Fellowship Footwashing Forgiveness Francis Chan Freedom Friendship Gaia McDermott Gates George Mueller Gift exchange Gino Marozzi Giving Glory God's character God's faithfulness God's goodness God's leading God's love God's plan God's presence God's sovereignty God's wrath God\'s faithfulness God\'s love God\'s sovereignty God Good Samaritan Gospel Grace Grief Haiti Handel's Messiah Happiness Hartford City Mission Healing Heaven Hebrews 11 Hell History Holiness Hollywood Holy Spirit Home Honesty Hope Horatio Spafford Hospitality Houston Human rights Humility Hypocrisy Identity Ideologies Idols Immanuel In memory of Information overload Injustice Insecurity Integrity Intimacy Isaiah 9 Israel JI Packer Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 8:11 Jesus' death Jesus' love Jesus\' love Jesus Job Joe Barone John 8 John Newton Jordan Perterson Joseph Joshua Joy Judgement Judges Justice Kanye West Kingdom of God Knowing God Lamentations Lament Las Vegas Leadership Leaf by Niggle Lent Les Miserables Lessons learned Longing Lord's Prayer Love Lynne Pleau Mark 10:21 Mark Driscoll Marketing Memorial Day Men's conference Mercy Mike Yaconelli Ministry Missions Money Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Moses Music Nancy Butler New Year's New life NewLife Old Testament Opinions Optimism Order Orlando Outreach Parenting Passion of the Christ Passion Pastoral care Pastoral ministry Pentecost Peru Phil Vaglica Philip Yancey Philippians 4:13 Play Pokemon Go Politics Poverty Power Prayer Preaching Pride Month Pride Prison ministry Progress Prophecy Prophet Prosperity Gospel Proverbs 14:4 Proverbs Psalm 13 Psalm 46:10 Psalm 46 Psalm 51 Public Speaking Purpose R.C Sproul Reflection Relationship with God Relationships Relativism Relevance Reputation Rest Resurrection Rev 2:4 Revival Rich young ruler Righteousness Romantic love Ron Luce Running Sabbath Sacrifice Salvation Same-sex marriage Samuel Sanctification Satan Saul Seculosity Self-Image Self-Worth Service Sex Trafficking Sex Shirley Prey Signifigance Silence Sin Smartphones Social justice Songs of Ascent Spiritual Disciplines Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Warfare Spiritual growth Statues Stories Street Church Stress Success Suffering Suicide Sunday School Survivor Syria Technology Teen Mania Thanksgiving The Hartford project The Ragman The Sound of freedom The Underground The Valley of Vision Tim Keller Titanic Tolkienn Tozer Trauma Trust Truth Uconn basketball Unanswered Prayer Unity Uvalde Valley of Vision Vows Williams Syndrome Wisdom Work Worry Worship Zechariah accountability accusation addiction bitterness cancel culture child trafficking confession conflict cool devotion disillusionment divorce emotions evil evolution faithfulness foster care glory days gratitude idolatry influences listening marriage nostalgia pastor perspective problem of Evil prodigal son purity of heart racism recovery redemption relevant repentance story temptation the one Jesus loves time management trials tribalism violence vision