The story about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden has often been preached as a story about the sins of pride and disobedience.
However, not all pride is by any means sinful or a sign of unbalance. In fact, to lack pride is to invite unbalance, as Aquinas points out when he says,
Self-love is the form and root of all friendship. Well-ordered self-love is right and natural—so much so that the person who hates himself or herself sins against nature. To know and to appreciate your own worth is no sin.
Self-love is the basis of all other loves. Cornel West makes this point most strongly when he writes that a strategy for combating nihilism and despair must include “a direct attack on the sense of worthlessness and self-loathing in black America.” Self-esteem is a healthy and necessary thing. Healthy pride is not a problem. It is unhealthy pride or arrogance (what Eastern spirituality often calls “ego”) that is the problem.
What about the good and necessary dimension to pride? Where would we be without proper self-esteem? Jesus said to love others as we love ourselves. This presumes the goodness and necessity and indeed starting point that self-love is. Pride is not bad; distorted pride is the problem.
Selfishness is a distortion in love and distorted pride. It puts oneself first no matter what the cost—even if it means killing others by refusing to be vaccinated; or killing others living or to come by wallowing in denial about climate change.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, p. 199.
Banner Image: The Pilgrim Bandits led 11 injured soldiers (4 amputees and 7 able-bodied) from the Canadian Forces and the British Armed Forces kayaking 465 miles down the Yukon River. These extreme expeditions push direly injured men and women from military and emergency services to the limit, helping them to rebuild confidence and self-esteem by tapping into a wide range of professional skills gained in service. Photo by Province of British Columbia on Flickr.
For a TRANSCRIPT of today’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
Give examples of healthy pride and healthy self-love. How do these actions differ from “selfishness”?
“Wisdom, Grace, Love” – a 3-part online lecture series by Caroline Myss, Andrew Harvey, and Matthew Fox, September 8, 15, and 22, 3:00-4:30 pm Pacific (GMT/UTC-7). Learn more HERE.