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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pride is a more important sin than homosexual activity or abortion

Pride versus homosexual activity and abortion.

There are approximately 50 condemnations of pride in the Bible, depending on what counts as a passage. I arbitrarily counted multiple occurrences in the same chapter as one occurrence, which probably made for an underestimate the number of occurrences. I did a search in the on-line English Standard Version, for both "pride" and "proud." See the end of this post for the results from the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, the word used is usually, or always, hyperēphania, or typhoō. There are about 5 occurrences in the NT:

Mark 7:20 ... He said, “That which proceeds out of the man, that defiles the man. 21  For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, sexual sins, murders, thefts, 22  covetings, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. 23  All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

Luke 1:50 His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him.
     51 He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. ... (quoting Proverbs 3:34)

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you clothe yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Again, quoting Proverbs 3:34. In the World English Bible, that is "Surely he mocks the mockers,
but he gives grace to the humble." Note that verse from Proverbs was not counted above.)

1 John 2:15 Don’t love the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love isn’t in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, isn’t the Father’s, but is the world’s.

I excluded some verses from these search that were translated as "conceit" or arrogance" in the World English Bible. I also didn't include justifiable pride, such as Paul's pride in some of the churches.

OK, so what? 

There are, thus, about 50 negative references to pride in the Bible. Some of the most evil characters in the Bible, starting with Satan, himself, were guilty of it.

There are only about 9 Biblical condemnations of homosexual activity. In the case of Sodom, which is one of these, homosexuality may not have been their most important sin. (See the first paragraph of this post for scriptural basis for the previous sentence.) Homosexual behavior is not the most important sin, or even most important sexual sin. (See the Ten Commandments for evidence of these assertions.)  There is no Biblical evidence that Jesus ever mentioned homosexual behavior.

There is no completely unambiguous condemnation of abortion in the Bible. See here for more on abortion.

This is not to say that homosexual activity or abortion are approved by God. I don't think either one is. But why aren't the Christians I mostly associate with up in arms about pride, rather than about abortion and homosexuality? Here are some possible answers:

1) Homosexual activity is mostly unambiguous. Abortion is almost entirely unambiguous. You know if you have engaged in homosexual activity, or had an abortion, and it is often possible for other people to know this, too. Pride, on the other hand, is less easy to spot.

2) We are more inclined to condemn other people for things that we know we haven't done. Most of us have been sinfully proud at some point. For example, I need to be careful not to be proud that I thought about the comparison in this blog post, when other people didn't. Most Christians haven't had an abortion, or engaged in homosexual activity.

3) Abortion ends a human life, or prevents it from starting. Pride usually doesn't do either of these, therefore it would seem to be less serious. (Wars fought because of national pride, or because of pride on the part of a political leader, or general, do end human lives, lots of them.)

4) There are organizations dedicated to stamping out homosexual behavior, or abortion, or both. As far as I know, there are no organizations dedicated to stamping out pride. (I'm not, of course, referring to so-called "gay pride" events. Some Christians, and others, are against such.) Perhaps that's a symptom of answers 1-3, but it also means that it's less likely that the ordinary Christian will be interested in taking up an anti-pride crusade. There are political candidates who base some of their appeal on being against homosexual behavior, or against abortion. So far as I'm aware, there has never been a political candidate who ran against pride. On the contrary, all too many politicians seem to be as guilty of that sin as I am, maybe more so.

Old Testament search results:
Leviticus 26:19
2 Chronicles 26:16
2 Chronicles 32:25
Job 35:12
Job 40:11-12
Psalm 10:4
Psalm 31:18, 23
Psalm 59:12
Psalm 73:6
Psalm 94:2
Psalm 123:4
Proverbs 8:13
Proverbs 11:2
Proverbs 15:25
Proverbs 16:18-19
Proverbs 21:4, 24
Proverbs 29:23
Ecclesiastes 7:8
Isaiah 2:11-12, 17
Isaiah 9:9
Isaiah 13:11
Isaiah 16:6
Isaiah 23:9
Isaiah 25:11
Isaiah 28:1, 3
Jeremiah 13:9, 17
Jeremiah 48:29
Jeremiah 48:16
Jeremiah 50:31-32
Ezekiel 7:10, 20, 24
Ezekiel 16:49, 56
Ezekiel 24:21
Ezekiel 28:2, 5, 17
Ezekiel 30:6, 18
Ezekiel 31:10
Ezekiel 32:12
Ezekiel 33:28
Daniel 4:37
Hosea 5:5
Hosea 7:10
Amos 6:8
Amos 8:7
Obadiah 3
Zephaniah 2:10
Zechariah 9:6
Zechariah 10:11
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is usually (possibly always) ga'own.

Thanks for reading! Don't be proud. I hope that I'm not, either.

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

If anyone cares, this post was created because I'm attempting to lead a small group study on Daniel 4 in our church tomorrow.