the essential vice

16 Apr

In the discussion of sexual morals, homosexuality, gay marriage, et al, I find C.S. Lewis’ comments in Mere cslewisChristianity to be highly appropriate and intensely relevant on all sides. It seems quite evident that when we think of the word “vice” the wrong pictures come to mind – pictures, of course, that always highlight the activities of others out there rather than the activities taking place right now in this mind, this heart, this soul. So easy to target the sins of the flesh – especially when it’s others’ flesh. But it’s the sins of the spirit, sins that constitute the center and bulk of what Paul terms the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5, that are the real killers, taking down the sexually/morally pure and impure alike. We can talk about legalizing or outlawing a vast array of sexual practices. Too bad we can’t outlaw the essential vice of pride.

And, of course, if we did, it would make us so very proud…

Here’s Lewis. One more note. Perhaps I’m not the only one that hears a tinge of sad irony in his observation of Christians being those with a heightened sensitivity to the presence of this essential vice in themselves…

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, 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.


1 Comment

Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Galatians, musings


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One response to “the essential vice

  1. Jon

    April 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm



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