Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 91: Satanic Desire
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 91: Satanic Desire

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Recall (see essay #2) that humans are mimetic creatures. We learn all our social skills, including language, by mimicking other people. Mimesis is not inherently bad; it’s the means by which we become human, social beings. However, nearly all people display acquisitive mimesis, which mimetic theory tells us leads to rivalries, resentments, and violence. Where did humankind go wrong?

The Bible describes how Adam and Eve were initially in dialogue with God. God was their model, and since God is perfectly loving and not acquisitive, there should have been no rivalry between them. God lovingly offered them paradise, and their only charge was to mimic God’s love for Creation by lovingly caring for the Garden. Unfortunately, they fell into acquisitive desire when they listened to the serpent, who tempted them to eat the forbidden fruit. Adam regarded what Eve was eating, and due to acquisitive mimetic desire he wanted to eat the fruit. Their disobedience fractured their relationship with God, because they had become rivals with God for power and control. Then, Adam tried to blame Eve (and God for giving him Eve), and Eve blamed the serpent. Acquisitive mimetic desire (i.e., wanting what other people want because the other people want it) invariably leads conflict and accusation, which eventually leads to murder. This was the tragedy of Cain and Abel. (See essays 9 & 10.)

Acquisitive mimetic desire, then, is satanic, and it inevitably leads to violence. While our acquisitive desires are actually mimetic, we like to think that we want things because of their inherent goodness (romantic desire) rather than as a consequence of slavish mimetic desire of what other people have. (See essay #3.) This makes it difficult for us to recognize our envy. Whenever our acquisitive desires are not satisfied, our self-esteem is hurt and we feel angry. We blame other people for our frustrations, failing to recognize that our own envy often underlies our hostile feelings. Resentments in communities gradually build until a scapegoat is found, who everyone blames for widespread hostile feelings.

How do we stop scapegoating innocent people? The answer is not to eradicate human mimetic desire. Girardian anthropology asserts that humans are created as mimetic creatures. We cannot eliminate mimesis, but we can consciously change the focus of our mimetic desires. When we focus our mimetic desires on what other people want, our desires are acquisitive, divisive, and satanic. When our focus is on God, we have what Girard calls “good mimesis.” Since God is loving and not acquisitive, God does not become our rival when we model God. Therefore, mimesis of God does not engender resentment or hostility.

How can we model God? The Bible offers a wonderful model in Jesus Christ. Choosing to follow Jesus Christ means dying to satanic, acquisitive mimetic desire (which is the kind of desire to which we were born as humans) and being born again, becoming a new creation in Christ. Human nature is to be aggressive and acquisitive, but born again Christians are meek and seek to serve rather than to be served. Jesus said, “the meek shall inherit the earth,” which we will explore next week.

Go on to: Part 92: “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth”
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