A “Screwtape Letters” Look at Family Life – Six Different Angles
Several years ago at my previous church, I taught a series of lessons entitled “Making the Most of Family Life.” The lessons were based on a series of six brief essays I wrote, inspired by the style of “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis. In case you haven’t read Lewis’ classic book, you should know these are written from the perspective of demons, to give Christians a different insight into daily life here on planet Earth. Letter number one:
My dear young tempters,
It has come to my attention that many of you are under the delusion that family life among the humans is to be feared, simply because it was originally created by the Enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the coming weeks, you will be privileged to learn the most successful methods for devouring families in the name of Our Father Below from a senior tempter that has devoured many scores of families through the ages. Take it from one who knows…there are few satisfactions in this infernal world greater than gorging yourself on an entire family whose members have already supplied you with years of drunken revelry by slowly destroying each other. Pay close attention, and you too will partake of the bliss that comes from hitting the Enemy camp at the most strategic point, the family.
For the sake of you novices who are too blind to see it by now on your own, my first lesson will explain why I refer to the family as the most strategic point at which to strike the Enemy camp. To put it simply, it’s all about maximum damage at the easiest point of entry. Oh sure, the Enemy would have us believe that these small, interconnected groups of humans are places where the little vermin are safe from our attacks. What he does not seem to grasp is that the only way for them to find safety among the other humans to which he has assigned them is for them to practice such revolting habits as unity, peace, and that other disgusting way of life that requires them to put each other before themselves. For all of the Enemy’s power, he can certainly be naïve. From the time of the First Great Victory, Our Father has instilled within these simple creatures the insatiable desire to put themselves first, with no regard to the significance of this posture.
As this is a basic course in your Temptation Training, let me now remind you of one of the building blocks of good tempting. Never allow your patients to genuinely reflect on the significance of their posture in relation to anyone else. This includes the other humans, our own glorious forces of Darkness, and the accursed, light-enshrouded forces of the Enemy! Obviously, you must not allow your patients to see that when they put their own cravings (which you should carefully re-label as “needs”) before the true needs of their fellow humans, they separate themselves out from the rest of the herd, making it that much easier to pick them off. Furthermore, they cannot be permitted to see you working in their lives. They might never reach for that apple again if they saw what you were actually putting into it first. (I must assume that you know never to allow the little beasts to enjoy the Enemy’s pleasures in their pure form. Always add at least a drop of poison to the fruit.)
It is of utmost importance that they never be allowed to consider how the delightful posture of Selfishness draws them away from the arms of the Enemy. Remember the dreadful outcome of the Enemy’s story! Although we know this must be some type of clever manipulation, he appears to always reach out to them with open arms, even when they are covered with the food of our banquet table. Until our researchers discover how to unravel this deceitful ploy, we cannot allow our patients to understand that he offers to give them more than they desire if they are willing to put his will before their own. The principle in human relationships is simply this: Selfishness is always to our advantage. Self-reflection, however, is always risky.
Selfishness is the key to successful infiltration of family life. The only way the Enemy may claim victory over a family is for each member to put the others first. This is so easily prevented, it is laughable! As I have already noted, the result of the First Great Victory is that they are all Selfish to the core. Two recent efforts have taken us great strides beyond even this fundamental advantage. Both hinge on keeping our patients focused on “home life,” rather than on “family life.” Of course, we know that the two are interchangeable, but human minds are so easily muddled. First, we have been able to confuse their understanding of the term “home.” They now use it to refer to a specific place, rather than a group of people empowered by the Enemy to defend themselves from us. Furthermore, we have convinced many of them that since a home is an objective place, they can claim special rights of ownership to it. The result of this way of thinking is that each family member comes to expect – frequently to demand – that his or her own Selfish desires be met first and foremost by the rest of the family.
Developing this attitude within them renders the Enemy’s strategy of “protection through family life” virtually impotent. Of course, you should help them along by planting such thoughts as, “Why does this family member always get to do such and such, and I never get to do thus and so?!” or “I don’t care what my parents say, I want this!” or “I don’t care what they think, my family will do it my way in my house!” Note the importance of the words “my,” “never,” and “always.” Never forget this first lesson: Selfishness is the master key to making the most of family life. Once you have your patients’ families firmly established in this way of living, you will be able to enjoy many fiendish ways of roasting them on the spit.
Your Adoring Instructor,