On June 1, 2019, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, tweeted a reminder to Catholics in his diocese that they should not support this month’s “Pride Month.” “These events,” said the bishop, “promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals and especially harmful to children.”
To this we should all be eager to shout, “Amen, Bishop! Amen!”
As self-evident as it seems to be, foremost among the things that “Pride Month” promotes is — dare I state the obvious — Pride.
Here’s a bit of a refresher on what the church and other leaders of Western civilization (as well as my dad) have said about this modern-day virtue of pride.
C.S. Lewis told us, “[At the center of Christian morals and teaching] the essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all [others], 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.”
St. Augustine said, “Pride is the commencement of all sin because it was this which overthrew the devil, from whom arose the origin of sin; and afterwards it subverted [man] in the same way in which he himself fell. For the serpent, in fact, only sought for the door of pride whereby to enter when he said, ‘Ye shall be as gods.”
John Wesley prayed, “Purge me from every sinful blot; my idols all cast aside: Cleanse me from every evil thought, from all the filth and pride.”
G.K. Chesterton taught us that “pride is the poison of every other vice.” He went on to tell us how pride elevates the evil of every other human shortcoming. “I believe,’ he said, “this malady of pride will be found almost everywhere to be the reason of wrong and of the rending of human fellowship It is the poison of pride that has made the difference Weaknesses that can be reverenced as weaknesses, can all be suddenly distorted into devilish shapes, and made to dance to devilish tunes, at the first note of this shrill and hollow reed [of pride].”
Aquinas warned that it is because of pride we lose our ability to even think clearly. We cast aside all ambition for logic, respect for facts, and natural desire for truth when we presume ourselves to rise to the level of being gods. “Reason,” he said, “has the direction of those things for which man has a natural appetite” but “if the appetite wander from the rule of reason man whether by excess or by default it will be sinful, as is the case with the appetite for food which man desires naturally. Now pride is the appetite for excellence in excess of right reason Pride is the desire for inordinate exaltation Pride imitates God inordinately for it [makes ourselves equal to] Him, and wishes to usurp dominion over our fellow-creatures.”
David said, “In all the thoughts of the proud, there is no room for God.”
Solomon said, “I hate pride.” He warned of the “downfall of the haughty” and that “pride brings a person low.”
Isaiah said, God “has a day in store for all the proud and they will be humbled.”
St. Peter said, “Clothe yourselves in humility,” not pride.
St. James said, “God opposes the proud.”
St. Paul said, “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. [Love] is not proud.”
Even our nation’s Founding Fathers warned us of the first of the seven deadly sins.
“They betrayed the secret of their souls,” said John Quincy Adams. “[They] showed at the bottom of their souls’ pride and vainglory in their condition of masterdom.”
Benjamin Franklin concurred: “In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive [It is] pride that dines on vanity [and] sups on contempt. [It is pride that] breakfasts with plenty, dines with poverty, and sups with infamy.”
So, the obvious question is — Why in the world are we now celebrating pride, and what is it exactly that we are proud of?
The bishop is right. There is little about pride that is good and there is everything about it that is wrong. Celebrating pride definitely does “promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals and especially harmful to children.”
Call me crazy, but maybe our country would be a lot better off if we taught our kids to celebrate a “month of humility” rather than one of pride.
“God brings down the proud and saves the humble.” Job 22:29
• Everett Piper, the former president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is a columnist for The Washington Times and author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).
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