Facebook is alive with holiness today. A friend posted: I love it when distractions that Satan would want to use to hinder our worship are overcome by the Spirit of God! Shortly after that: I am thankful for people willing to be obedient and lead us in worship despite their fears, sadness, grief, or any of the other emotions that I know were at work this morning!
Fear, sadness, and grief aren’t terrible emotions to listen to, and there are appropriate times for all three. But you best watch out for them — these are apparently the tools of the evil one.
I’m not a psychologist, but I don’t think that’s a healthy way to view one’s emotions. Fear is not an evil spirit or a tool used by one. It is simply the sanest response from any cognizant person who reads a newspaper these days. I’m scared half the time. I have grief. I have nothing against the kind woman who posted these sentiments on Facebook, in fact, she’s someone I once considered a good friend, several years ago. But really, this is ridiculous. I scrolled further down my feed to see another religious-toned status — this one from someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum: The biggest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing bigots, misogynists, and homophobes that they were patriotic Christians.
These people are in opposite camps. The first lady is an aging minister’s wife who used to be my quartet coach. The second is a middle-aged gay man who is like a father to me. While I love them both, I’m a little bugged that both these people are using the convenient, easy tool of devil-blaming to make a point. Everyone, please cut out the middleman and leave Satan out of it. The devil doesn’t make anyone do anything. The devil doesn’t make people petty and cruel, fearful and sad. The devil is simply this old, antiquated, and mildly amusing idea upon which we enjoy dumping all our guilt, shame, and responsibility. Satan doesn’t make people homophobes or patriots. People do that themselves.
For my part, I think the devil is fantastic, and if he’s real, I’m rooting for his team. If Lucifer exists, so must his dogmatic, heavenly counterpart, a being that created a world and people to live in it — a being that was omniscient enough to foresee Eve’s little stunt in the garden of Eden, and by extension know ahead of time that we would sin, mess up, fail. Why, then, did he not create some way to prevent her slip-up? Why did he create his beloved race with the ability to sin — rather, the built-in impulse to do so? There’s no other way around it. Our wrongdoing is entirely his fault. Who else made us? He made us flawed, at least by his definition, and still avowed to cruelly and sadistically punish us with suffering and eternal damnation because of it — because of the natures he breathed within us, our sin he built us with.
Our only way out of hellfire is to repent — which means apologizing to him for possessing and committing that which he created us to possess and commit — and beg for forgiveness. After that, we must worship him and follow him all our days. We must worship the sicko who damns us for natures that are invariably his invention. God is evil and cruel.
In less grand terms, god punishing mankind for sin is like creating a dog with the ability to bark, then beating it to death when it barks. But here’s what’s worse: If god is omniscient and omnipotent — all-knowing and all-powerful, as most believers say he is — then he sits up in Heaven and watches things like the Holocaust and the AIDS epidemic and simply allows them to happen. He watches countless children die every day, hears thousands of sick people asking for help, and still allows countless people all over the world to suffer long, horrible deaths of cancer and die. How is this a benevolent being?
Being an omniscient, omnipotent creator of all things, he is not merely an aloof, hands-off observer. By being the maker of man and the maker of the world, he is invariably responsible. If god exists, he either spat AIDS into being or simply sat back and let it kill a generation of my people.
And I’m supposed to praise him? If there ever was a rebellious angel named Lucifer, he’d have every reason to want to wage war with such a monster, and he has my vote. If the devil is real, I’m rooting for him at the final battle. And until that day comes, I encourage everyone on Facebook to stop blaming that goat-footed beast for the cruelties and carnage of man. But if you must shirk your responsibility, blame someone else — someone who really deserves it.