The First Deadly Sin - Pride

Apr 21, 2009Updated 5 months ago

Pride is the first in a series of Seven Deadly Sins; their name describes their severity: these are mortal sins.

According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, when a person chooses to commit a mortal sin they are willingly forfeiting heaven and choosing hell.

The deadly Seven also known as “Capital Sins” lead to breaking one or more of the Ten Commandments, and breaking the Commandments creates a dangerous rift between man and God.

What are Mortal Sins?

A mortal sin is an act or thought which makes one turn away from God and turn toward something ungodly instead. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, mortal sin “destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God… (CCC 1855).

Committing mortal sin "evicts" The Holy Spirit from the sinner's soul. Mortal sin brings pain, anguish and suffering to the sinner and to others in his life. Mortal sin jeopardizes a chance at heaven.

Is All Pride a Mortal Sin?

What if you are proud to be an American, a Canadian, or an Australian? What about parents and teachers who always tell children to take pride in their achievements? And employers who want workers to take pride in their work? Are they all wrong? What’s wrong with pride?

Well, in the context above, nothing. Being proud of your country, your race, or your association with a group isn’t a sin, neither is being proud of a job well done or of reaching a goal. This kind of pride is experiencing joy in achievement or having gratitude for a sense of belonging. That’s okay; it’s not a sin.

What Kind of Pride is Sinful?

Sinful pride is an inordinate love of the self: super-confidence and distorted self-esteem that ignores one's shortcomings.

Pride is a sin when it becomes arrogance, conceit and vanity. Sinful pride exaggerates one’s abilities and accomplishments and ignores one’s imperfections and failings.

Why is Pride the “Number One” Deadly Sin?

Pride is the first of the deadly sins because it is the key to all other sins.

Pride makes people believe that they are better than everyone else and “above the rules” so they can rationalize behaviors such as lying, cheating, stealing, insulting, and refusing to accept authority over them.

Sinful pride is an inflated ego; it is the unnatural, unbalanced tendency to exalt oneself over others, and even over God.

Anti-Authoritarianism as a Form of Pride

“No one is going to tell me what to do” is an example of anti-authoritarianism: a common modern-day expression of pride.

This pride is expressed by the refusal to obey those in authority because the ego can’t accept the idea that someone else is more powerful, more intelligent, or has more influence. Pride prevents people from seeking necessary help and wisdom from others and from working effectively together.

Overcoming Pride

Overcoming pride requires humility. Humility is not false self-deprecation (insulting yourself so others can say otherwise), rather it is recognizing that all gifts and talents come from God and acknowledging as such.

For example, if someone were to compliment your good singing voice, a prideful response would be: “You’re right, I do have an incredible voice, it’s about time you noticed it.” A self-deprecating response would be: “Oh, no, I can’t sing. My voice is terrible.”

But a humble answer would be: “Thank you. I’m grateful that God has blessed me with this voice and I’m glad I could share it with you.” Humbly giving God the credit He deserves is the antidote to sinful pride.

Related Reading

Readers might also enjoy What Are the Seven Deadly Sins? The Sixth Deadly Sin - Envy, The Sixth Deadly Sin - Envy, and The Seventh Deadly Sin - Anger.