Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, has said sex outside of marriage is not the “most serious” sin.
During a question and answer session with reporters on a flight back to Italy from Greece on Monday, the Pope said, “Sins of the flesh are not the most serious.”
Instead, he said that pride and hatred were “the most serious” of sins.
Two thoughts on this:
1. I was born a Catholic. If I were still a Catholic today, I’d be faced with quite the conundrum:
According to the Pope, the pride I feel in never having engaged in an extramarital affair (or even being tempted to do so) is far worse than actually engaging in an extramarital affair.
This doesn’t seem quite right. I know that pride cometh before the fall, but I suspect that cheating on your spouse might cometh before the fall, too, and that particular fall could cost you a bundle.
Think about it this way:
Who would you rather be married to? A lying, cheating spouse or one who brags at cocktail parties about their prowess in the company’s softball league?
Pride doesn’t seem quite so bad by comparison.
2. Credit the Pope for looking for ways to appeal to new customers. I’ve often argued that religions should do more to compete for congregants. If you’re brand of religion requires potential converts to jump through hoops, for example, you’re making a huge mistake. In the business world, this is referred to as “switching costs.” The higher the switching cost, the less likely a consumer will migrate from one brand to another.
Once Apple has you entrenched in their ecosystem, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever switch to another phone or platform.
Certain religions seem quite fond of establishing high switching costs for their converts, which makes no sense. Forcing someone to attend classes, take tests, or pay fees in order to join your religion is a terrible mistake. Throw baptism and circumcision into the mix and you’re definitely turning away possible converts.
Perhaps this “pride is worse than infidelity” position is the Pope’s attempt to halt the steady decline in both Catholicism and religious participation in general as a percentage of the US and world population. Fewer people identify themselves as religious today than ever before. In the United States, the fastest growing religious belief is the nonbeliever.
But even us godless heathens think that adultery is a bad thing, and a hell of a lot worse than pride and maybe even hatred, too. In fact, most nonbelievers probably think that extramarital sex is worse than the Pope thinks it is, which seems odd.
But perhaps also appealing to the serial adulterer.
Maybe the Pope is simply a marketing genius, looking for ways to bring new customers into his waning business.
I’m kidding, of course. While I think it’s fairly asinine to declare that pride is worse than adultery, I don’t really think that the Pope is looking to increase church membership by appealing to the unfaithful (though they do account for about 25% of all married people).
I mention this because religious folk can sometimes fail to see the humor when religion is involved. Spiritual belief can numb the funny bone.
I’m sure the Pope is a stand-up guy. A little misguided in this particular case, but an otherwise fine human being.