What is Evil?

evil

Bayeux Cathedral in Normandy, France. Constructed around 1077.

Evil is a subject most people don’t like to consider, but it’s a valid concern in the Christian life. Much of popular culture in the world around us regards any attention to the presence of evil as somehow detrimental. An awareness of evil is “antiquated” or the product of fear. Do such inattention, indifference, and apathy render the negativity harmless? Or does it actually allow the force to gain strength and spread?

 

Context

Our entire universe is a compilation of opposites. For light, there is darkness. Gravity surrounds objects, while the vast emptiness of space lacks any gravitational pull. Since we do have so many positive elements to the universe, kindness, selflessness, and empathy, it’s only logical for there to be an opposite, which would be the force of evil.

When a government detects a threat, they investigate. It doesn’t matter what type of threat it is, a simple verbal “bomb threat” will be investigated and pursued as aggressively and as thoroughly as an actual explosion. Does this make that government one of cowardice for maintaining a proactive position? Would such a government be unreasonable or “hysterical” for seeking intelligence on an adversary? Not at all.

The same principal applies to people and such forces as evil. In the theater of battle, you fight an enemy with knowledge and strategy just as much as any physical force or brute strength. The Christian’s fight may not be against a flesh-and-blood adversary, but it is indeed a battle.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:12

Just as the lines separating good and evil have become blurred through time, we see the lines blurred in modern media. The only way to fight evil is via Christianity, but Christianity has become the villainous force, as seen in so many films and television series. There’s no such thing as “evil,” just religious fanaticism.

We can blame modern society for such a shift, but in reality, it’s to be expected. A typical serial killer enjoys the fear and panic he creates, but he doesn’t actually want to be apprehended. A serial theif may enjoy thwarting modern commercial or residential security systems, but doesn’t want to be jailed. Similarly, evil does not want to be noticed. It prefers subtly and reinforces the notion that humans are the only source of evil in the universe. It reassures that there is no such thing as a devil, demons, or negativity beyond the human element. It can’t spread and infect among those who anticipate it, or who see what it is.

 

What is Evil?

In our vastly secular Western world, the concept of evil beings or their destruction may seem like fodder for a cheesy film. Unfortunately, this contemporary notion leaves a sizable portion of the population simply vulnerable to such forces.

Evil is not cartoon red devils or staged theatrics from horror films. It isn’t even human defiance or excess, although both can play a part. Evil is destruction, confusion, chaos, and fear. Above even those qualities, it is insatiable, a parasitic infection that will stop at nothing to locate new hosts to destroy.

There are vengeful spirits in many parts of Asia called “hungry ghosts.” They are said to be the spirits of the departed who died in extreme want of food, money, or something else. According to their lore, these spiritual beings have lost all sense of earthly reason or whatever humanity they once held. Now, they exist only to consume. The consumption, however, is never-ending, just as sin and evil. Both are never-ending hungers and both only have the capacity to spread. Why does evil target humans? Because angels aren’t in the flesh, although evil does tempt angels as it did during Lot’s time*. Angelic beings are not subject to the same weaknesses creatures are who live in the flesh.

* “And they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.'” -Genesis 19:5

Evil can only spread because it can’t be fulfilled, satiated, or appeased. It will never know contentment or gratification. It can only spread its malcontent to as many as possible.

 

Conclusion:

Evil is a spiritual parasite that can only be warded off via awareness and knowledge. In opposition to popular assumption, Christians do not fear evil and have no reason to. They’re simply more aware of it. Awareness does not give negativity power, ignorance does. Ignoring evil doesn’t remove its power any more than ignoring a virus removes its capacity to infect. The evil in the world existed long before any of us were born and has had no regard for what we did or didn’t believe at any point.

Lastly, evil is not about the individual. The human race has an arrogant and self-centered perception of evil. It’s a force that wants you to embrace sin, not solely because it’s immoral or against scripture, but because the embrace will destroy others through your actions or choices.

For example, the force would want a man in a bar to overindulge, but not just to get him intoxicated. Because he’s driving home and will hit a minivan filled with people. The tragedy resulting from that collision will follow the van occupants for the rest of their lives, as well as land the drunkard in prison. In this scenario, a number of lives have already been terminally devastated by a single form of sin that only lasted a few hours.

It would want a wife to engage in an extramarital affair, not solely because it’s immoral, but because it would destroy her spouse and children. Her children will grow up in a broken home and suffer the traumatic effects of that instability for decades. Two out of three will see chronic divorces in adulthood and one of the three will become a substance abuser.

There’s very little we do, in regards to sin, that will not affect others, and often it’s many others. Evil is indeed a parasite, but it holds very little threat to those who know its purpose and its presence.

 

 

 

Dietary Restrictions in the Bible

dietary

The Archbasilica San Giovanni (St. John of Lateran) in Rome. This church began in 324 AD.

Many people are often surprised to find scripture regarding what to eat in the bible. This has often caused much confusion and question among believers, as well as non-believers. Why did the bible discuss food? Why were there dietary laws?

The reasons are actually very simple. Most of the things discouraged in scripture are done so for valid reasons, as we will discuss on this blog. In scripture, maintaining a healthy diet is a way of caring for the body. The physical body is described as a holy place, a temple [1 Corinthians 6:19, John 2:21].

We must also consider how primitive food hygiene affected people. Eating the wrong meat, or just improperly prepared food, could have fatal consequences. Many pioneers as recent as the American frontier suffered terrible deaths due to dysentery, flux, or bloody flux, which are just terms for food poisoning.

The practice of cautious food consumption is actually found all over the world. Buddhists often have vegetarian or vegan diets. Taoist priests also use a form of “simplified eating” that is akin to vegetarianism. Vegetarianism is also an integral part of Hindu life.

 

The Change in Diet

Dietary requirements and restrictions underwent a great change in the New Testament. It is believed this change came about as humanity developed better methods of preparation and food storage. The main scripture regarding this can be found when Peter was in Joppa [Acts 10:9-15 English Standard Version]:

9. The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.

10. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance

11. and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.

12. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.

13. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

14. But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”

15. And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

What Does it Mean?

 

Many people today still follow dietary restrictions for their religious convictions. In truth, many are likely far healthier than those who have more mainstream eating habits. Your diet, however, does not have any spiritual significance beyond promoting good physical health.

For Reference

 

This set of scripture details the Old Testament’s dietary laws.

3. You shall not eat any abomination.

4. These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat,

5. the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep.

6. Every animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat.

7. Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud but do not part the hoof, are unclean for you.

8. And the pig, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.

9. Of all that are in the waters you may eat these: whatever has fins and scales you may eat.

10. And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.

11. You may eat all clean birds.

12. But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,

13. the kite, the falcon of any kind;

14. every raven of any kind;

15. the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind;

16. the little owl and the short-eared owl, the barn owl

17. and the tawny owl, the carrion vulture and the cormorant,

18. the stork, the heron of any kind; the hoopoe and the bat.

19. And all winged insects are unclean for you; they shall not be eaten.

20. All clean winged things you may eat.

Deuteronomy 14:3-20 [English Standard Version]

Further Resources on Food