Transcending Satanic Desires
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Transcending Satanic Desires

It is difficult to identify our satanic desires. Eager to preserve our self-esteem, we tend to regard our desires or actions that harm others as justifiable or even meritorious. We generally recognize our imperfections, but we usually see ourselves as decent, well-intentioned people.
An interesting study illustrated the point. People were asked to recall an episode in which someone harmed them, and an episode when they harmed another person. Almost invariably, when they were the victim, they regarded the intention as malevolent (such as selfishness or jealousy) or inexplicable, and they experienced the harm as severe and its consequences long-lasting. In contrast, when they were the perpetrators, they considered their actions at least partly justifiable and the consequences likely minor and not long-lasting.
The problem is that, when we regard evil as something real but (almost invariably) possessed by someone else, we tend to feel justified in eradicating the evil by any means necessary to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. This sentiment readily lends itself to scapegoating, the universal scourge that, as I have argued previously, is “the sin of the world” (John 1:29). If we are to deal compassionately and respectfully with those who harm other individuals, it helps to recognize our own capacity for evil. How can we see the evil in our own souls - evil that we tend to hide from ourselves and almost always try to hide from others? Christianity offers a path, and it involves forgiveness. I’ll discuss this next essay.

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