“Mommy, What’s Satan?”

By Wendy Thomas Russell | February 10, 2014 | 2 comments

Of all the religious concepts that I’ve discussed with my 8-year-old daughter, Satan has been one of the toughest — partly because it seems awkward to speak of something so nasty and awful in a matter-of-fact way. But that’s precisely what makes it a great addition to “Mommy, What’s That?” a new series I launched last week, where you can find simple, straightforward and age-appropriate language to explain religious ideas to children in a non-religious way. So here goes. Satan:

The short answer:

Satan is the “bad guy” in the Bible.

The long answer:

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In the Hebrew Bible, God is the hero who wants people to be good, and Satan is the villain who tries to tempt people into being bad. (Think Batman and the Joker.) Some people believe Satan is just a fictional character. Some people believe Satan is a real being who changes forms so he can trick people into doing bad things. (Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden.) Some people think Satan is just a symbol of the “bad” parts of human beings — because no one is perfect, and everyone is bad sometimes. Some people believe Satan is a “fallen” angel who turned against God and now lives in a place called hell. You will sometimes hear people talk about “the devil” — they’re talking about Satan.


2 comments

  1. Rich Wilson says:

    I seem to remember from The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell saying that one version of the story is that Satan’s sin was that he refused God’s order to love man above God. Satan, who loved God most, was punished by eternal separation from God. And the pain in Hell is Satan’s cries for missing God.

    Anyone else recall that? I haven’t been able to find it in the book, nor have I re-watched the series in a very long time.

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