Essays

Instead of Satan . . .

by Holly Robbins

Note: Because of my background, I mention the LDS church, but I know that many other churches espouse the same view that I'm bringing up here, so I just want to acknowledge that up front. Also I wish to recognize that "the devil" has many different names throughout the religious world. For the sake of simplicity, I will simply refer to the devil as "Satan" and I am referring to Satan as the concept that most Christian religions consider the embodiment of evil. 

Why are We Giving Satan Air Time?

Building on Common Beliefs
I have been thinking a lot about paradigms that do more harm than good. The paradigm I've thought of most lately is one harbored by the majority of people on planet earth primarily (I believe) because of our religious and cultural conditioning. In a world with such diversity as ours, can it possibly be that 60% or more of us agree on the the same thing? I think so. And the world's acceptance of this one fundamental paradigm is one of the major causes of all the fighting and insanity that continues to burden humanity to this day.

Why are We Giving Satan Air Time?
It appears that Satan (religion's "bad guy") has more place in many religious rituals, theologies, traditions and speech than a Divine Mother. We are taught more about the nature of "Satan" than we are about the nature of a spiritual Mother, and most world religions share in this same dualistic paradigm. We may be taught that Satan does not have a physical body, but in our rituals (and thus in our psyches) we grant "him" not only a physical and visible body but a gender, a personality, some evil spirit helpers, some power and a personal agenda to boot. In the LDS church, he even has a voice in one of our key rituals and is given a few precious seconds (of what should be worship time) to threaten us personally.

This seeming need for a devil plagues many of the world's religions today. Nearly 400 years after Christ, Augustine began a period of indoctrination* regarding "Satan's" attributes and agenda that would affect Christianity and humanity for the next one-thousand-six-hundred-some-odd years and counting. These gifts that humanity has bestowed upon evil (in theologies that we have inherited along with other intergenerational baggage) have turned evil into an actual being with a will to come after and destroy us. Instead of an unembodied and obscure concept, Christianity (and other religious traditions) have made evil into a REAL PERSON.

The result of this embodiment is an emphasis on a supernatural duality in our religion that is not  based on the healthy and balanced flow and partnership of yin and yang, male and female, Mother God and Father God as that found in the peaceful models of some Eastern religions. Rather, the Western model is that of an eternal battle between a good God and an evil one. And we--God's children--are not only NOT safe but we are caught dangerously in the middle of it and expected to join the fight "or else." Unfortunately that is exactly what we do when we buy into the paradigm.

Well, What Do We Expect?
Judging by the evil we see in the world, it might seem that the only way to view this life is as a battle between good and evil. Most of us are so accustomed to this paradigm that we've never even questioned it. But I submit the reason we see so much evil in the world is that the majority of the world's religions promote the Good-vs-Evil, God-vs-Satan paradigm (and by the way, it is just a paradigm) rather than a harmonious Mother-Father paradigm. After all, can we really expect to find harmony in a world where the majority of us views life as a battle? Can we really hope for peace while harboring a major paradigm that is not only dualistic but totally polarized as well, and insistent that somebody has to be the enemy? And humanity promotes this polarized view of deity again and again everywhere in the heart of every child who is indoctrinated into a religious tradition that harbors such damnable dogma. Sooner or later it will become evident that the problems in society are merely a reflection of our own fundamentally imbalanced and over-masculinized thinking. As long as it continues, world peace (even and especially Zion) will continue to elude us.

Some might argue that such evil will still exist in our world without religion promoting it in scriptures and rituals and hymns and over the pulpit. I agree that it certainly would. But I can't help but think it would be greatly curtailed if a couple billion of us--at least the religious population--would adopt a different model; a model of partnership rather than polarity. I'm not suggesting that we stop believing that Hell has an actual physical location; the war-torn countries of the world have already shown that Hell is abundantly geographical, and it hardly takes an afterlife to prove it. Neither am I suggesting that we throw out religion altogether. What I am suggesting is that we cease to allow our collective religious model to be a major contributor to the problem.

How About a Heavenly Mother Instead?
So why don't we just stop it? Can it be that the reason we don't embrace the harmonious yin/yang model is that by including the Mother's  tender influence, we will forget that "life is a battle" and we will no longer wish to fight? Are we afraid of the changes that would naturally occur in our worship if the Divine Mother were to take Her rightful place in the Godhead? Are we afraid of how our church governments will operate if suddenly they need to be patterned after Heaven's parent-partnership model rather the single-dominant-male parent model we find in patriarchy? Can it be that we are so accustomed to our own fear and the sickening sounds of war and rumors of war that we don't know how to live without them? Are we afraid that our Mother's balm might be so soothing that we will forget why we started fighting in the first place? Or do we simply not know that there is a better way?

I am here to say that there is a better way. It's time to adopt a new model. It is time to give our Mother in Heaven some air time. It is time to embody HER in our minds as "the other one" (at the very least!) instead of Satan.  If we're going to be religious at all, is time that we awaken from the nightmare of enmity and find ourselves--all of us--in the loving arms of two tender Heavenly Parents--safe within Their Family--instead of in the middle of a bloody battle field fighting against our own brothers and sisters and the demons humanity has created  by our faith in their existence.


* This link covers some of the teachings of Augustine fundamental to the problematic world view regarding the nature of evil. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8l3PliBQS4

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