“The Devil made me do it.”
We’ve all seen the cartoons where the protagonist is faced with a moral dilemma and, “poof” a little angel with wings and a halo appears on one shoulder and a little horned devil with a pitchfork on the other. And then the hero stands idly by as the two outside forces compete for his support.
Personally, I think it’s all bunk, even if sometimes pretty funny to watch. But we still seem to get off on this “I’m an innocent bystander” rubbish anyway. It’s nice to think that humans really don’t suck as much as we often seem to, and that it’s really “his fault.”
Why our kid brother’s fault of course. Stinky ole Lucifer. “Mommy! I didn’t eat all the chocolate chips! It was Lucifer!”
Poor Lucifer. My kid sister used to do this to me. She would always follow me around and wait for me to do something wrong and then narc on me to mom.
“Mom, Seth’s sneaking cookies.”
“Mom, Seth hit me.”
“Mom, Seth won’t give Heather back her doll.”
She enjoyed it quite a bit. The fact that it made it easier to pass off blame on me, and the fact I was generally unconcerned about being in trouble as a kid made it somewhat easier I imagine. A tale is always more convincing when it’s based on accepted truth. Everyone in my family knew I was generally a twerp. So it wasn’t exactly a hard sell.
And we do the same thing with Lucifer. It’s not our fault we’re so screwed up. It’s our smelly brother who did it. I wouldn’t have turned out half as bad as I did if he hadn’t butted-in with his sly tongue and his devious ways…
Sure, there’s some scripture support for this, as we well know. But I’m not entirely convinced he’s all that bad. Certainly, I don’t think there’s much call to be naming him the “embodiment of all evil.” I mean really, what did he do to get that distinction anyway?
Philosophically, it doesn’t seem to make much sense either. If we buy into the line I keep hearing from Christian apologists about how evil isn’t really real, and how it’s just the “absence of good,” then Satan can’t really be the pure embodiment of evil. If he was, it’s quite possible he wouldn’t even exist, since existence – in itself – is quite likely a positive thing.
And if you hew more to Lehi’s view that good and evil are necessary opposites, then what reason is there to go and call Satan, the embodiment of one of those halves of the apple? I mean, Lucifer was reportedly a pretty impressive fellow, but putting him on equal status with Father seems a little bit much. I mean, who died and made him king of half the universe?
And then we’ve got that business with Cain, where Lucifer is all kissing-up to him and promising him his whole stash of Halloween candy if Cain will just “off” Abel. And then Cain does, and is reportedly going to be Satan’s master. What’s up with that? Thought Satan was supposed to be “king of hell” or “prince of darkness” or something, and all you have to do to take his job is kill a sheepherder? Heck, every Russian MIG pilot in Afghanistan during the 1980s managed to do that much. If this is true, I’d hate to think how far down the infernal totem pole brother Lucifer is at this point. He’s probably on latrine duty or something.
Nope, I just don’t buy it. Lucifer may have been a dramatic sort, and he may have had an original idea or two. But crowning him “Evil Incarnate” is just a tad much. It gives him waay too much credit I think.
I remember wondering in high school seminary once years ago if one of God the Father’s final acts in this story we’re in would be to offer forgiveness to Lucifer. I know that’s scripturally problematic. But I still think it’s a nice thought. I mean, he is our brother, even if he is a jerk. Anyway, I can hope…
I once heard a story that I’m sure is completely unsupported by accepted scripture. It might have been apocryphal, or perhaps a Jewish folk tale, or maybe something else. But it basically says that Satan was the first to introduce evil into the world. But it also stated that Satan was shocked with how far humanity took the evil he had started. It suggested that he never meant things to go as far as they have, and that we humans may indeed have the dubious distinction of outdoing the devil at his own game.
No idea if that’s true. But looking back at the 20th Century, you have to wonder sometimes.