“The devil made me do it” became a popular phrase in the ’70s. In essence when we say, ‘the devil made me do it’, we are absolving ourselves of responsibility for any wrongdoing, but it doesn’t work that way. The churches I attended taught about Satan and demons quite frequently. Some of them so much so it began to feel as if demons were behind every corner, lying in wait to pounce on the unsuspecting. Is it really that simple? No. It is likely the whole Satan/demon thing is man’s way of explaining what he cannot fully understand.
Does evil exist? It doesn’t take long to look around and see the evidence of evil. Some believe evil is the work of demons, others believe evil the result of how we define it; in other words, nothing in and of itself is evil. For example, we can say killing is evil, but what if your family is being threatened and killing the person who is threatening loved ones is the only option? Is killing evil in this scenario? Some would say yes, others no. Our definition of evil is relative, wouldn’t you say?
In Exodus, Moses presents the Ten Commandments to the Hebrews; the list of ‘thou-shalt-nots’, the moral code we are to live by in a civilized society, but if we break one or some of the commandments, are we evil? Evil may seem too strong of a word but doesn’t the church teach breaking commandments is sinful? One of the definitions of sin is “evil”, so what are we to make of that? The sixth commandment is “Thou shalt not kill”, but given the above scenario are we not expected to protect loved ones? In Judaism, the sixth commandment is “Thou shalt not murder; the connotation is a bit different, so in this case, is killing another to protect a loved one acceptable as long as the killing is not murder? Where do we draw the line and who does the drawing?
What about “Thou shalt not steal”? I think we can all agree with taking something that does not belong to us is stealing, but what if I am taking bread to feed starving children? Is it stealing and will God hold me accountable and send me to hell for eternity if I dig in my heels and refuse to ask forgiveness because I am firmly convicted I am right to feed starving children? If I ask forgiveness because it is what is expected of me, but I am not sincere believing my actions justified what is the point of asking forgiveness? Questions, questions!
Evil exists, that much is clear. Its origins are a little less clear but I believe evil is simply the absence of love, no more no less. We are all extensions of Divine Love, yet we don’t all choose to journey with Divine Love. Journeys don’t need to be formal, we don’t need to commit to church attendance, meditating daily, or studying on a mountaintop. A journey can be as simple as appreciating people for the unique creations they are, gratitude for the beauty all around, the laughter of children or the unconditional love of pets. A journey in its simplest form is knowing we are surrounded by the sacred and honoring the sacredness of life. We are all part of the whole of Divine Love and yet we don’t fully understand our connectedness. Evil exists because we are separate from connectedness with others and God, or at least believe we are. Evil shuts and locks the door to Divine Love, the darkness settles and pain sets in as a constant companion. It is from this place evil arises.
Does the devil make us commit acts of evil? No, we have a free will. We choose evil over good, hatred over love, tearing down over building up, slamming the door on Divine Love over opening our hearts to the sacredness of the creation and Divine Love. Are we ‘sinful’ people? No, but we choose acts of evil as defined by the act and the motivation for the act, plain and simple….