Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence
True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth
Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence
By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.
Part 90: Satan the Accuser and the Trickster
Last week, I discussed how satanic desires are universal. In this essay, consistent with biblical descriptions, I will refer to “Satan” as if Satan were a spiritual being, keeping in mind that some Christians regard “Satan” as that part of human nature that separates us from God.
The Bible repeatedly describes God choosing people to be prophets and/or disciples. Meanwhile, Satan’s attributes include being an accuser and a trickster. Satan’s most effective trick is to make people believe that Satan the accuser is God the chooser. Satan accomplishes this by dividing the world into good and evil. Our satanic tendency, then, is to accuse other people of being evil, which makes us feel as if we have been chosen by God. How does this happen? We humans have a strong tendency to believe that God has chosen us to serve God by accusing and punishing people. We can become convinced about this because scapegoating has always brought human communities together, making it tempting to believe that God has ordained our accusing (and scapegoating) one or a few people. The collective belief that our accusation is God’s will reinforces our conviction.
The truth, however, is the opposite. Accusation characterizes Satan, not God. God chooses people without accusing anyone else. When we accuse each other, we try to shame each other. What is the consequence of shame? Addiction. When shamed, we impulsively respond either of two ways: through self-destructive addictions that confirm our sense of shame, or though attempts at perfection, which attempt to deny our shame. In the latter scenario, the attempts at perfection typically involve efforts to shame other people, in order to shift the shame onto someone else.
Jesus described satanic behavior when he responded to those who accused him, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:43-44) Humans have been captivated by the allure of satanic desires from the foundation of human civilization, and they have remained so ever since.
How do we break the endless cycle of lies, violence, and death? The Christian solution is to be reborn in Christ, recognizing that God sends the Holy Spirit as a manifestation of God’s love. We receive the Holy Spirit by grace, not because we deserve it. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, we may establish new relationships based on love, rather than defined by mimetic rivalries. This helps makes sense of Jesus’ comment, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) Those who perceived themselves righteous were not ready for Jesus’ call. They believed that they were already chosen, and they did not recognize their need for rebirth. Those who had heard the cock crow and recognized their past sinfulness were ready to receive Jesus’ redemptive love and forgiveness.
Satan the trickster would ultimately claim Jesus’ life. The mob would accuse Jesus, thinking that Jesus was evil and they were righteous. While tragic for Jesus, this was the only way to reveal Satan’s trick without playing Satan’s game of accusation and killing. In last week’s essay, we explored the story in which Jesus rebuked Peter after Peter objected to Jesus’ destiny. Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men.” (Mark 8:33) Peter had expected Jesus to become a Messiah who would reward good people and condemn evil people. However, such a role requires accusation, which always involves scapegoating. Unless Jesus were to condemn everyone (since Romans 3:12 reads, “no one is good, not even one”) Jesus’ followers would invariably project their own sins onto other people, in order to absolve themselves.
Now, let us revisit one of the Bible’s best-known passages, John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” The true God is not the accuser who condemns but rather one who chooses. And, who does God wish to save? The entire world – not a select group of people and, I would further maintain, not just humans.
Let’s look further into how this relates to animal issues. We are right to denounce animal abuse as evil. However, when we accuse animal abusers as evil, we are playing the satanic game of elevating ourselves and feeling chosen by accusing others. We have been chosen, not to accuse anyone, but to expose cruelty in all its forms (human and animal) as immoral and an affront to God’s love, goodness, and mercy. We should not seek revenge or punishment. Rather, our activism should involve moral persuasion and, if necessary, laws to protect those who are unable to defend themselves.
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Part 91: Satanic Desire
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All Creatures Guide to Kingdom Living includes such subjects as: life, heaven, earth, peace, justice, Bible study, discussion, commentary, God, Christ, Christian, Jewish, Jesus, Holy Spirit, vegetarian, vegetarianism, vegan, veganism, cruelty free, love, compassion, lifestyle, Bible, recipes, sermons, stories, animals, animal rights, Judeo Christian, health, ethical, environment, living, meditation, perfection, prolife, pro life, pro-life, abortion, capital punishment, war, hunting, fishing, trapping, farm, farming, factory, fur, meat, milk, dairy, slaughter, cattle, beef, pork, chicken, poultry, hens, battery, debeaking (d-5)