Latter-day Doctrine

by Rex Jensen

President Benson said "There is no such thing as righteous pride." Yet, it is difficult to grow up without being almost wholly enmeshed in pride, from birth to death. Every grade school, junior high, high school and college teaches pride, preaches pride, and practices pride in all its forms. All sports reek of pride from the fans, to the cheerleaders, to the coaches, the players, and to the subs on the bench. Parents teach pride to their children from cradle to grave. Pride is considered a virtue today, even among most Latter-day Saints.

President Benson also declared that pride "is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us." Still we teach our children to "have pride" in themselves, pride in their school, their community, their country--pride is everywhere. Indeed, Satan has been so successful in brain washing the world on his doctrine of pride, that few are able to recognize it for what it is, and even fewer are willing to abandon it. Pride is the fallback position for most people, if they have nothing else, they at least have their pride.

The biggest problem most of us have with pride is that, "pride is essentially competitive in nature". President Benson also stated that "The central feature of pride is enmity--enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means "hatred toward, hostility to." And with all sports, all business, all dating, all the arts, and all social activities having become competitive in nature; pride is difficult to get away from. Anyone watched an NFL football game, or an NBA basketball game, or a major league baseball game lately? Is there any enmity, hatred or hostility there? Anyone wanting to just play a friendly game of basketball without being competitive would be laughed off the court.

With college, high school, junior high, and yes, even elementary school levels of sports are all very, very competitive with enmity and hatred being cultivated in the participants from a very early age, is it any wonder we see so much hatred, animosity and anger in the world?

But sports is not the only garden in which this great evil is cultivated; it also grows unchecked like wild weeds in the classroom, in all areas of academia--especially that "enmity toward God", identified by President Benson. The world's feeding frenzy over individualism, "I did it my way", and "nobody can tell me what to do", kind of individualistic philosophy promises to supply the world with amply supplies of pride, and to make the world a far worse place to live than anyone could imagine.

The doctrinal contrast between this and the gospel of Jesus Christ is stark. So why do so many members have so much pride? Like so many other areas, they have been deceived. They have been convinced that Satan's plan is better than the Savior's. They have been persuaded that "the plan of unhappiness", is better than "the plan of happiness." Happiness does not, and cannot, come from pride, hatred, animosity, enmity, and all their accompanying ugly baggage. Success may come through these, money, fame, and glory; but happiness will not; it is contrary to eternal law.

If Christ devised "the plan of happiness" to make men happy, then why would men discard that plan for an ugly substitute? If pride leads to ugly, negative, unhappy ends; why do so many follow that course? If the very attributes of Christ, his teachings, and his example, are gradually squeezed out of our lives by these ever growing tentacles of negativeness, why do we continue on this course? Is it because the proud "wish God would agree with them."? Or perhaps it is this, "What will men think of me?" weighs heavier than "What will God think of me?" The proud love the praise of men more than the praise of God." (President Benson).

Living a life full of pride is a bad way to live, it is self-defeating, it is unhappy, and it is "the great stumbling block to Zion". (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin)

"There is no such thing as righteous pride...The central feature of pride is enmity -- enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means "hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition." It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us. Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God's. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of "my will and not thine be done." Our will in competition to God's will allow desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled.

Our enmity towards God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hardheartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish God would agree with them.

Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them. The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man..."it is the comparison that makes you proud: the plesure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone." (Mere Christianity)

The proud stand more in fear of men's judgment than of God's judgment. "What will men think of me?" weighs heavier than "What will God think of me?" The proud love the praise of men more than the praise of God. Prideful people are not so concerned as to whether their wages meet their needs as they are that their wages are more than someone else's. A proud person hates the fact that someone is above him.

Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. Another face of pride is contention. Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces, spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride.

The proud are easily offended and hold grudges. They withhold forgiveness to keep another in their debt and to justify their injured feelings.

The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success. They feel worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough. Pride is ugly. It says, "If you succeed, I am a failure." President Ezra Taft Benson, Apr Conf 1989

Pride is the geat stumbling block to Zon. I repeat: Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Apr conf 1989