Sunday, May 19, 2013

Satan Never Really Wanted to Make Us All "Good"

One of the prime examples of scripture taken out of context to score political points against any progressive idea (and of course, the evils of communist domination - pretty much the same thing for a lot of people) is the one about Satan robbing us of agency to force us all to be good, falsely interpreted as you can't do "good" with government.
And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.

But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me— Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;

And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. Moses 4:1-4.
A little background might be helpful for my non-Mormon readers. It is a unique doctrine through scripture and teachings presented by the Prophet Joseph Smith that all humans on earth are spirit children of God and that we lived with Him in a premortal state. Two plans were presented as summarized above, but also referenced in other, more traditional scripture (Isaiah 14:12-17). The plan chosen was that of Christ that He would sacrifice Himself submitting to the will of the Father for the benefit of all God's children to be resurrected and able to repent of their sins through this great Atonement. Lucifer rebelled and there was war in heaven with all of us [humankind] on the winning side choosing the plan of God and his Son who came to earth as the Savior, Jesus Christ.

The two parts of Satan's "plan" seem to be constantly linked -- "redeem all mankind" and "destroy the agency of man." This is interpreted as forcing us all to be good to return to heaven. That plan was not chosen. And don't forget who Satan is -- you know, "the father of all lies." His principle motivation was "to lead [us] captive at his will." The tricky part with ol' Scratch, is that he tells a a part of the truth, just enough to keep us going, but then twists it to his purposes attempting to fool us in the process.

Satan's sin was pride and disobedience to the Father. His technique was to control, or have dominion over, all of God's children, including the First-born in the Spirit and the only born in the flesh, Jesus Christ. And I get the idea that included even God the Father Himself. I think that Satan, well, Lucifer at the time, was not interested in saving but controlling. Therefore, his plan was a ruse, a lie, hence he is the father of all lies. Maybe he was surprised that he didn't fool the Father and the Son. But his motivation was pride and control, not to force us to be "good."

I believe men and women have agency and when we choose to sin, we become subject to Satan - the Adversary or Destroyer, and we lose our agency. We have the ability to exercise agency at any given moment of our lives beyond the age of accountability (8 years old). It doesn't matter what cultural, political, or economic situation we find ourselves. We are constantly either choosing evil or good, to follow Satan or Christ - sometimes without even a solid concept of who they really are. See 2 Nephi 2:25-27.

This has nothing to do with politics or economics. The abuses of Capitalism or a true free market based on individual interest will enslave us just as well as communist dictatorship. And Satan rules both. If you don't believe that, think of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and later, the US - the conditions of Welsh coal miners and the children in sweatshops. Think of sweatshops today in some countries that produce our clothes.

Blessedly, we live in a land of government of, by, and for the People. We have a lot of work to do in that regard. Here's early LDS Scripture with regard to those responsibilities and opportunities:
We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society. D&C 134:1.
Sounds to me like government is a good thing giving us an opportunity to work together "for the benefit of man" and "for the good and safety of society." It doesn't sound like the devil's plan if we are to be accountable for how we function in doing good for each other through representative government in support of "the general welfare." On the other hand, I might question those who believe government is the problem and who seek to obstruct its functions or to vilify their political opponents as agents of evil. That sounds more like the way the adversary operates. Fortunately, good conquers evil in the end as it did in the beginning.

"The Fall of Lucifer" by Paul Gustave Doré

8 comments:

  1. I don't think Satan's plan was to force us to be good either.

    Satan wanted to destroy agency, which is to say choice and accountability. I think people focus way too much on choice and far too little on accountability. But I don't think forcing people to do good was his game. Since when has Satan been interested in people doing good?

    Instead, think of what Satan's traps are today: sinning a little won't hurt, doing good is the same as doing bad, there's no big deal in digging a pit for our neighbor, etc.

    I think more likely he wanted to take away accountability. To say that we could do whatever we want, but ultimately you get redeemed no matter what you do.

    So I still agree with you: there is no political dimension here. Being forced by the state (or just highly incentivized) to do good things is no more Satanic than most things the state can do. The natural man is an enemy to God and will do evil unless acted upon by good influences. Why can't the majority of people use the state to be one of those influences? Government is still people. The church is still people. No matter what sphere it operates in, it's all us. So let's try to make it as good of a one as we can.

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    1. Thanks, Anonymous.
      It's good to hear from some one who shares some similar thoughts.

      I don't want everyone to agree with me politically. I just want them to work with me to figure things out without calling me evil and accusing me of following satan's plan by trying to do some good in the world.

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  2. I find your posts most refreshing, not least because you articulate so succinctly ideas and beliefs I also firmly believe, but find hard to put into words. We may live on opposite sides of the world, but it is interesting the similarities we share with living in countries enjoying dynamic democracy. Thanks again for your thoughts.

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    1. Thanks, SG-3. Say. My son just entered the MTC to learn Japanese and has a companion from your neck of the woods (or your little corner of the globe) You know how it goes - you must know all the Mormons there (I won't hold you to it) but if you know an elder who flew up here to enter the MTC last week, that would be the guy.

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    2. That sounds a bit like when my companion and I were tracting in Sydney. A guy answers the door, and from the sweet smoke wafting around him and the way he speaks, he is clearly quite "happy". He immediately asks, "Are you guys from America?!?" I reply "No, but he is", pointing to my comp. The guy immediately gets excited, and asks Elder Anderson, "Do you know Bon Jovi?!?" :-)

      I am somewhat Stake-Inactive at the moment (it was a condition of me agreeing to the calling of Ward Clerk) so I'm not sure who is recently serving from our Stake. And there are two Stakes in Tasmania. Having said all that, if you ever find out a name, it will probably be familiar!

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    3. My son's companion is from the Hobart Stake, Glenorchy Ward. His name is Elder Kevin Dowe

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  3. My name is Sydna Taylor Uteg,
    Satan's plan was to take our agency, limit our experience, thus giving him power over us for eternity. The Savior's plan empowers us.
    Knowledge is power, the knowledge we gain from injustice, sin and repentance prepares us for of eternal lives.
    We chose to learn so we were given the right to be proved.
    Experience comes from sin and repentance.
    Even Christ benefited from being the Savior, he learned through our experiences. When he suffered in the garden, bleeding from every pore he experienced the affects of sin without sinning. He learned compassion. Isn't that what we're here to learn? Love is Knowledge, Compassion and Spiritual Unity. If you have done it to the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Something Christ said.
    Eternal Education is learning from our sins through repentance. Going to school gives us a better life but has nothing to do with our salvation.
    Lucifer didn't want us to sin and repent he wanted us to remain ignorant so he could rule over us.
    I remember something in the scriptures: Do nothing but cry repentance unto my people. It is only through real repentance that we learn from our sins. That includes going to those we have harmed and begging their forgiveness. They don't have to forgive us but we have to ask.

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to disagree as many do. You can even be passionate (in moderation). Comments that contain offensive language, too many caps, conspiracy theories, gratuitous Mormon bashing, personal attacks on others who comment, or commercial solicitations- I send to spam. This is a troll-free zone. Charity always!