Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Great Satans

Storylines aren't as compelling without a villian. Superman needs Lex Luthor. Batman needs the Joker. Every dramatic television show or action movie breaks down into a good guy vs. bad guy, us vs. them formula. Rivalry excites the fanbase. Even professional wrestling figured this out a looong time ago (face vs. heel).

Ironically, in most of these instances, the good guy is created first, but it isn't marketable or appealing until an evil rival is birthed and an angle is created. The formula, now marketable, attracts followers. 

Fundamentalism follows the same formula. Whether in Christianity, Islam, or any other fundamentalist sector, Great Satans and godless infidels are needed to stoke and energize the base. Fundamentalist Christianity has several Great Satans. Let's look at a few, starting with one I've been writing about recently...

Dating...No emotionally healthy, mature person is gonna choose a "model" for romance that gives someone else power over their choices and behaviors or allows someone else to dictate their private personal parameters for them. So, knowing this, the proponents of the courtship movement invented a boogeyman: The World's System of Dating (as if everything that isn't courtship falls into this category). *cue ominous music, or, just play some Lady GaGa* With TWSD comes rampant sexual deviance, as so much as thinking about being unchaperoned with a member of the opposite sex (emphasis on "sex") creates a volcano of hormonal activity that you can't possibly control! Emotional purity! Emotional purity! Human nether regions are drawn together like magnets with an irresistable sphere of influence, as horndogs and harlots, depraved humanity that you are, succumb to fleshly desires! And then, even worse, what if you fall in love?! Did you hear me?! WHAT IF YOU FALL IN LOVE?!!! OMG NO!!!!!!!!!!! Don't you know that TWSD can ONLY produce sexual promiscuity, broken hearts and lives, damaged goods, and a series of mini-divorces?!!! 

You see, if all of that were actually true - rather than a figment of fundamentalist imaginations - courtship might actually look like the best option. But, courtship proponents need it to be true. They need an enemy, because their good guy can't stand on it's own merit.

Modern Psychology...This one is needed because it shines a light on a great deal of their BS and doesn't reflect well on their recruiting practices. Thankfully, advancements in modern medicine and science have given us incredible new insights into most areas of the human anatomy, including the brain. They're fine with the rest, particularly if they need a life-saving medical procedure of some sort, but they need to keep the human brain and psychological composition in a box, because "modern psychology" often proves fundamentalism illogical. My former future grandfather-in-law was always throwing off on modern psychology. What he was actually doing was making himself come across as extremely ignorant and insecure in his beliefs (which, at heart, he is). When you avoid learning so much as a parcel of information about an issue (because it's been labeled religiously taboo), yet you opine about it freely, there's one word to describe what you're doing: stupid. 

Rapidly Decaying Western Society...Uggh. This was my former future grandfather-in-law's favorite. "Society is decaying rapidly to levels never known..." or "As we watch modern society crumble into sin all around us..." or "Sin is rampant in the world today like never before...", among many other manifestations of the sentiment. I once told him, "If I have to listen to much more of this I'm gonna need some liquor." I'm mean, from his vantage point, why even try? Why not just write a manifesto, send it to the local paper, then light yourself on fire on Main Street, ending it all in protest? I almost felt like "modern society" was some kind of virus to him, and if God didn't come and rapture him immediately away from this cruel, depraved world, he might catch it.

The fact is, we'd have to go a loooooooong way to reach the depraved levels of many segments of times past. Sometimes it may seem like things are so much worse now than 10, 20, 50 years ago, but they're really not. We just have so much instant information at our disposal. If someone robs a bank in LA, a guy in Boston can watch the car chase go down live on FOX, CNN, or MSNBC, or even on his freakin cell phone. Alcohol problems were as severe in the old days as illicit drug problems are today - you just didn't hear about it. Sexual promiscuity/adultery was as big a problem in the old days as it is today - it was just kept hush-hush. And the homosexual community isn't any larger now than it's ever been - it's simply more public and vocal. Hearts are the same as they've ever been - in need of Christ.

Government...I'm personally not a fan of big government. A friend's facebook status recently had a quote from the Gipper about the 9 most dreaded/frightening words in the English language, "I'm with the government, and I'm here to help." Fundamentalists, though, take the paranoia to Howard Hughes levels, from issues like prayer in schools, to the ten commandments in schools, to the destruction of the marriage institution, to the desire to pull their families entirely off the grid, if possible, in some instances. The government must become an evil boogeyman to give them all a common enemy and the motivation to carry out the 200 year plans and such. They say they despise big government, but let me tell you, you ain't never seen big government like what you'll see if the fundamentalists/dominionists/reconstructionists were to ever take over. They'd give themselves whatever liberties are necessary for them to live on the straight and narrow-minded way, but the rest of us, well, tough luck keeping any personal liberty that doesn't fit the fundamentalist agenda. Government meddling on a whole new level. 

I could list more, but you get the picture.

What does it say about your lifestyle and religious belief system if you can only truly justify it, to yourselves and others, by demonizing everything else?(Steadfast Daughters crowd, please take note)

A few thoughts as I close this post...

If you need liberals to be evil, what does that say about your conservatism? (and vice versa)

If you need to direct hate at that which is innocent, what does that say about your ability to love?

If you need evil to abound, what does that say about your redemption?

If you need sin to abound, what does that say about your grace?

If you need a Hell to exist, what does that say about your Heaven?

If it weren't for Satan, would you still cling to Christ?


  1. Great post Lewis.

    We haven't even begun to touch the level of social decline that there was at the time of Christ. I just can't help but think that people who claim a steady social decline are absolutely ignorant of history.

  2. Really good, Lewis. This goes both ways and fundies aren't the only ones who have this tendency. I still see some of this issue in my own thinking. Thank you for clearly identifying it.

  3. Lewis this is the BEST you've ever written here--

    LOL it speaks volumes, in more ways than one. The questions So many,

    are afraid to truly ask, on So many levels.



  4. I do agree with your stance on funda-mental-ism but it's hard not to get panicky about the state of things when divorce stats, abortion stats & porn addictions seem to be paraded in an awful lot of places. Those things seem to be getting worse but perhaps something has gotten better to counterbalance it all?

  5. 1. Divorce stats: Yeah, there are more divorces, but are there really fewer healthy marriages? In the past people separated, or endured abuse or alcoholism, or ignored cheating and infidelity. The fact that people now have a way out of these situations is not a bad thing.

    2. Abortion stats: Talking to women my mom's age, I believe there have actually been far fewer abortions since acceptance of birth control and family planning. It's really hard to guage abortion rates since we don't know how many illegal ones were performed.

    3. Porn addictions: The internet does make porn more easily available; but again, in the past, how many of these men would have been frequenting "gentlemen's clubs," or hiring prostitutes, or engaging in infidelity? There have always been outlets for sexual immorality; the medium just changes.

    I'm not super old but I'm not a spring chicken, either, and I don't think there's any reason at all to panic. Overall, things are better for everyone... except perhaps a few immoral, power-hungry, lazy, arrogant white males.

  6. I'm not a fan of big government either, but what gets me is how the Tea Party, etc., are focused on the threat of socialism, while completely blind to the fact that our current economy is based completely on greed, power to the powerful, and aggrandation of wealth by the rich, while the middle class slowly becomes the poor and the poor are dismissed with stigmas of laziness, etc.

    They claim we are a "Christian Nation" but uphold laws that actively promote the sins of greed and pride. What's Christian about that?

  7. I liked the questions that you mentioned near the end of your post.

    Your writing technique is very profound. I don't always agree with what you write, but I respect you because you are willing to stand up for what you believe without wavering.

  8. Ohhhh....very good, Lewis. Thank you for the piercing questions.

  9. The Satan my parents have created is called "Fleshly desires." These consist of any thoughts, deep feelings, intuition, or inner longings I may possess that run contrary to their Godly model (which is more Parently than Godly). To feel something in my heart would be fooling myself and be especially un-Godly, because my heart is a self-destructive organ even after God has changed it. If I follow my heart -- which, to them, is simply an unmeasured, unreliable corruption that must be shoved into a box and smothered until I present it, cold and stale, to the man they deem "worthy" enough to receive it -- I'm straying from God. Never mind that I have been given a new heart from the great Surgeon.

    All little feelings of "He might be the one" and "When he talks about God there's a true ring of sincerity, and his actions don't contradict him" are to be dismissed and considered irrelevant. What they've told me is that my opinions aren't important. I'm to trust them, blindingly, as I have in the past, because I can't be trusted to make my own decisions. How will I ever do what is right when they have passed away? There won't be an unbiased party acting in my best interest in every important decision I make. Little, of course, do they consider that God is on my side and will make sure everything ultimately comes out to His glory. He's written my life story, and He's promised that it will have a happy ending. Shouldn't that be enough for any Christian? that I have a happy ending written for my life's story.

    They have raised me to depend on them for guidance. I wish I could change it.

  10. This is an awesome post it points out a good many things. Quivering Daughters had this linked on their fb and i clicked on it. Glad that I did! Honestly the devil gets more blame than God gets praise. When in truth we are responsible for our own actions. We are not puppets on a string instead we have a free will. When we create this "boogey man" complex we do not face the reality, we do not take responsibility nor are we being an individual with the right to think for our own self.

    I will admit I was trapped in much of this mind set however slowly but surely I am seeing through the smoke and the fog. Either Grace exist or it don't however I think that people loose themselves literally in such craziness. It makes a great case for psychologist on paranoia : ) my own little humor there!

  11. And for some Courtship isn't enough.

    While I'm just getting started with my blog, part of something I will address is that my family thought that Courtship wasn't even biblical and that the only way to make a marriage would be to arrange one to a man twice my age.

    Yes, really.

  12. I am seeing this all the time among my friends. I'm a moderately conservative person, I love my big family, I homeschool (because I like it not because I think school is the devil), so I attract people who are similar to me in that respect. But we are so different...sometimes it feels kind of lonely. I don't see the world as this great big boogeyman out to get my child's soul. I just don't. Why? Because I was raised in a very worldly environment, and while there are pitfalls to be avoided with that for sure, I met a lot of wonderful people and had good experiences along the way. So sad that some choose to view the world as dark and frightening!

  13. B.,

    You may have depended on your parents for guidance in the past, but you've obviously reached the point where you can take their "counsel" with a large block of salt. That means you're far ahead of many other young women in your position.

    For now, you may only be dependent upon your parents for subsistence, but that situation may change in the near future. I pray that it does for you.

    Don't squash the work of the Holy Spirit in your life when God whispers that a young man "might be the one." Test that whisper and hold fast only to what is good and true. Pray and give thanks, and trust in God and the story He has written for your life. It's bound to be beautiful.

  14. wow..I love words that make me think. And when people are able to capture truth in the midst of a spiritual spin cycle? Impressive, and you have managed to do that. I've had these thoughts for years, but never managed to actually place the pieces together, but you have seen the connection, and now I do too. Thanks for that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. - Juli

  15. I hope the "others" are reading this. We have a ways to go. Stacy has over a 1000 or more followers. That's a scary thought. Great post Lewis! One of your best yet! :)

  16. *applauds*

    I went to one of the churches you probably know of. (My family had never really been involved in the "Christian homeschool" scene, so when we found this place we had nooo idea what we were getting into. Thankfully, even though it was quite painful, we were quickly exposed to the ugly underbelly of it all and managed to get away. Scarred, and chased for a time, but away. And thoroughly educated. Haha.) And you're right, everything had to be villainized. The "world" is evil, evil, evil and because of that, you HAVE to turn to THIS way of thinking and doing.

  17. Fabulous post, Lewis!! I especially love the last question. ;)

  18. Great post, Lewis!
    I do have to say I busted out laughing on the "cue Lady Gaga"... Oh it's a bad, bad romance! SNORT!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Nice post. Shouldn't feminism be listed as a prime demon too?

  20. Retha...It's definitely one of hyper-fundamentalisms kryptonites. No doubt.