This post revisits an important topic – the root cause of the ills of the world . . . pride. The Christian worldview is that it is always pride at the root of all ungodly, anti-social and self-destructive behaviour. Always. I use the sexual to explain the emotional to explain the psychological to explain the spiritual but you can work the other way (spiritual to psychological to emotional to sexual) if you want. Enjoy.
A mate of mine has recently been exploring depression. He’s aging and trying to work out why he has not feeling good in the last few years. His wife is well recognised around town as a fruitloop (a desperate desire to ‘keep up appearances’ and chronic insecurity based on unforgiveness if you ask me), and I know him well. His problems though are not depression – we all go up; we all go down. When we get air, food, shelter, a pat on the back and a bit of hanky panky we can all feel good about life. When we’ve gotten a little short in one of these departments, we can get a little down. All this is normal.
His problem is that he needs desperately to get the meaning and purpose that comes from knowing that he will be hearing the words, “Come on in Son. I’ve been waiting for ya!” rather than the alternative rejection that should put the fear of God into anyone with half a brain, “Get away from me, because I never knew you!”
What we really need comes from above. Mankind is always seeking to replace that which we lost all those years ago in the Garden of Eden, when we got booted out. We screwed up, and literally too if you really want to know. To determine that the Fall was of a sexual nature, just look at what Adam and Eve did when confronted. They covered their privates. Hmmmm.
The problem is that we lost relationship with the Creator. This, at its root is due to pride.
Letting it all hang out
In the overcoming of the fear of public speaking, some teach that it is helpful to mentally picture the audience naked, you know, with their boobs, balls and other bits all hanging out. This is not necessarily a sexual thing – it is a proven technique that we use to overcome fear. Try it, if you don’t believe me. View any group of people this way, even just for a few moments and see the difference in your mindset. It’s like magic and most of us will automatically chuckle if not outright laugh aloud when we do. It’s also why the “clothes optional” upbringing removes or at least has the potential to diminish the sexual aspect of temptation. Knowing that the sight of a naked body does not always mean an inevitable trip to the bedroom is a maturity that many do not have.
When I moved to Centrepoint in my early 20s, the rules of our induction class were that we were all stuck into a large room naked – for a week. Bert knew well the inevitable consequences of this, and yes the bonking did occur. When the counsellors countered my passive aggression with, “Dennis, give yourself permission to try new behaviour!” this didn’t wash with me, so I bounced out pretty quickly after that, but the point was that nakedness brought and brings us all down to the same level.
The reason why this visualisation thing works is because we are doing what we call “reframing our reality”. When we are all brought down to the same level, our insecurities and fears all dissipate. When we know that people are just people all the same, the same as us, okay maybe performing different roles sure, getting different social recognition sure, and different pay scales sure, then we get a fantastic emotional boost.
This knowledge, or realisation is the secret that Christ knew when He faced off with the religious, financial and political rulers of the world. He knew who He was just as much as He knew who they were. This is the secret too that gives me the right, the power and the moral authority to expose others who are ripping us all off, pretending to be more righteous or powerful than they really are.
So the consequences of this freedom are that we gain peace; an understanding of reality, My mate says that since meeting me he’s gotten a lot better at dealing with reality. I’d concur with this analysis and venture to suggest that it was when I told him, way back when, that his problem was that he was “up himself!”
Whew, that one went down like a ton of lead bricks, but it was true which is why it hurt. Now the knee-jerk reaction is often to whack the messenger but his bat just bounced off this old mole’s head and rebounded back onto his. It is so often the case that fools [generally speaking] find out the hard way that you shouldn’t throw stones in your own glasshouse!
Pride, the variety that is best described as the one that is shown up just before a fall; the one that is usually associated with putting ourselves above others is always the root cause of anything ungodly, anti-social or self-destructive. Note that there are three things here – a) the vertical, between man and God b) the horizontal, between man or woman and c) central, affecting the self.
I’ve previously shared how this pride is like a plinth that manifests through two pillars (fear & pain) that support all manner of ills – greed, selfishness, self-centeredness, addictions, anger, lies or whatever. It all comes back to the same in the end.
So the consequences are that I am generally hated by those with a vested interest in keeping their power over others. On the other hand however those who can humble themselves and listen up do appreciate the honesty and wisdom that comes from my explanation. They silently nod their heads in approval and get it. In education we call it, “The a-ha factor” the moment when learning occurs.
Sometimes this applies to us . . .
- “Oh shoot! I’ve been caught out” is a typical negative experience.
- Religious conversion is another typical positive experience.
Sometimes this applies to others . . .
- The greedy, bully of a builder Josh Hawkless who came into my property in 2021, pointed to some scrap steel that my neighbour had given me and said, “That’s mine!” and then called in the Police will learn that he’s up himself and that his pedigree of being born into a rich family means nothing when he will have to say sorry or get shamed, and replace what he muscled out of my land illegally.
- The crooked, angry Taumarunui prosecutor David Grey, will learn who he really is when his arrogance is eventually exposed.
- The Crown Prosecutor who lied to the court at my expense will be humbled when she’s eventually exposed. She’s been caught out so we’ll see how she deals with this all in due course.
- If I keep pushing on with my appeals, the judges who all claim that they can rule over me (they call it jurisdiction) just because I live in (or was born in) New Zealand – “Just, because …” without my consent will all eventually have to acknowledge that they only do so using force, or the threat of it.
My challenge is no different to everyone else – pride.
My issue is whether to stand, rant and rave presenting myself as the arrogant cocky (proud) smart-arse that knows it all, or whether I STFU and run away and hide. I try to walk that fine line and do the former with a dollop of humility. I have found that if I speak at the same time as being ready to forgive then two things happen – first my writing becomes more “generous” and the second, God can do what He wants a little more effectively.
The Reverse Course
The reverse course is best described as giving in to temptation, i.e. letting unforgiveness rule. This is common and you can see the outworking of unforgiveness in the older age group when there are nasty social issues.
Unforgiveness brings a hardness into our lives and puts pressure on those around us, especially those who we love. Sadly it is very common, probably because the alternative (an attitude of conscious forgiveness) is damned hard work, especially to do this year after year as you get to know the foibles of the one from which you seek closeness.
The mother of a young man killed down the road last year told me of a court hearing last week in which a local dude Ray Wilson pled guilty to a charge of not stopping after he had hit, and killed Tama. I blogged about this trauma last year. She’s a bit of a character and is not short of a word or two, fearless to speak it out to anyone anywhere. Apparently she let the judge know that the time for talking was over; that because the old dude had lawyered up and if it had taken six months before he even had to face up to his ‘crimes’ (and presumably her) that it was time he
went to jail got his comeuppance.
I’m told her that the judge let her know that it was never too late to sit down and talk. I’ve told her that I think the judge is right – it never is too late to talk. Hopefully Valerie (that’s Ray’s wife) will encourage this old dude to face up and do the honourable thing; the kid’s mum will let it all go and the judge can help them all to get on with life.
They say that “Shit happens!” There is all some serious shit going down over this one, and at his age I reckon that Ray has probably been shaken up as much as Tama’s mum has, so I hope for their own sakes they can sort it all out.
Let’s talk for a moment about how this pride thing causes unforgiveness to fester. The best way of thinking about this is to put into words the thought process that shows the real feelings behind the unforgiveness. Typical thinking will arise from feelings of indignation. Sometimes that indignation can be perfectly justified – we call this “righteous anger” and other things. The feelings (of rage or pain or fear) then can be justified BUT the error is to hold onto that feeling thus validating our consequent conduct.
It’s fine to toot your horn against the dude who makes a mistake and pulls in front of you. Taking it to the next step however with some form of road rage is not.
It’s fine to feel hurt from marital betrayal but to hold it against our spouse is not.
It’s fine to be angry about a breach of contract in business – even to be angry forever. It is not however to hold that resentment forever. You don’t have to like that dude, nor to risk more and to trust him ever again but to continue to go after him forever is not. I know this more than many because I am in that situation all the time. Take just one example. Sir David Hay ripped me off in business then lied about it in court. It hurt me that a well-respected Christian brother with many millions to his name would sting me for less than $2k but he did. I had every right to share this experience with the world which I did in my blogging and book SNAP!, and I will continue to do so until the day I die, but the minute that he wants to apologise and sorts the matter out, I must forgive.
A trick that I have used effectively in this situation is to pre-plan, pre-determine the course of action I will take. Because of my role as a self-appointed influencer I do this a little more publicly than most, but all of us can do this to greater or lesser degrees. When we pre-determine a course of action, it helps us enormously when we are under pressure.
Let’s use the sexual as an example. As a young Christian man, I had determined that I would only engage in sexual activity with my wife. When given the opportunity to do otherwise at Centrepoint, I left. There was no temptation and no decision required because it was simple. “You guys can do whatever you want but for me – nah!” The personal pressure for me to comply with social norms of the community was extreme. They would have denied this, saying that “everyone was free to come or go as they chose” which was true technically, but the response from the ones that were mucking about tells you a lot about peer pressure and their conscience.
Standing for something means that you stand against something else.
My pride makes me think that I’m better than the rest. Their pride thinks that they are more liberated than I am/was. Poles apart we were. The way I think about it, if there is a God, these guys are in deep doo-doo. If there isn’t then so what? I’m just deluded and have been wrong for the decades since!
There is a saying in the Christian world that sin takes you further, keeps you longer and costs much more than we ever think or expect when we engage it. The only thing that seems to me to fight this reality is . . . pride. I think this . . I want that . . . I am this . . . I, I, I the middle letter of course right in the centre, as always, of pride. When we pre-determine that we will forgive, when we are crossed, we keep the doors open and can continue to grow. Unforgiveness on the other hand closes us down. Our emotional maturity stops immediately at that point and we die spiritually and emotionally at that stage. This is what you see more clearly with older people who are physically alive but spiritually dead. Unforgiveness is a killer.
It’s root cause – pride.
While it is rare, and so very hard to do, especially with firmly entrenched patterns of behaviour and age, the solution is so simple – the solution is just humility. The kind of humility that enables us to reach out to the Hand that helps.
Thanks for swinging by again today. Great to have you here. Oh and to the “two of you” who have responded to me recently, truth there are actually a few more than two! I guess you could perhaps call it “literary license”?