I turn now to another example of pride. Alma gave counsel to his three sons, which counsel comprises chapters 36 through 42 in the book of Alma. Alma starts out his discussion with his son Corianton (who is known for leaving his missionary work to chase after a harlot named Isabel) with these words: “Now this is what I have against thee; thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom” (Alma 39:2). Alma continued and talked about sexual sin but it’s important to note that he started with the sin of pride – Corianton’s boasting in his own strength and wisdom. At the end of his discourse to his son, Alma tells Corianton to let the justice, mercy, and long-suffering of God “bring you down to the dust in humility.” (Alma 42:30). Alma starts out with pride and ends with humility. I believe Corianton’s underlying problem was pride. This is similar to the cities of Sodom and Gomorra. We tend to focus on the wickedness of those cities as being sexual. However, to Ezekiel the Lord stated: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness [it’s interesting to note how often pride and idleness are mentioned together] was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good” (Ezekiel 16: 49-50). The sin of Sodom was pride, which led the people also to not share of their abundance with the poor. The people had other sins, of course, but the Lord in this instance condemned their pride.
Pride is when we put our will before or above the will of God. It states in Genesis that the Lord created man and woman in his own image. Many of us, in our pride, try to create God in our own image. Joseph Smith said, “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall” (D&C; 1:16). When we are prideful we think that only we know what’s best for our lives. The Psalmist wrote: “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts” (Ps 10:4). Pride keeps our thoughts from turning to the Lord. Sometimes we also might try to rationalize our sins away saying that God understands. He might only beat us with a few stripes but then we’ll be saved. In essence, we sometimes try to form God into who and what we think He should be. This occurs more often when we repeatedly pray for things and seek to change the will of God instead of trying to understand and accept His will. Heavenly Father blessed us with moral agency and allows us to exercise that agency, even when the choices we make are self-destructive: “Because of…their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper” (Hel. 4:13). When we are too prideful to acknowledge the Lord’s hand or to lean on His strength, He allows us to make our choices and rely on our own strength. We will not ultimately prosper if we do so.