Date: October 06, 2021 04:30PM
In the Great Before, Lucifer wanted to save us all, the story goes. He would be savior and he would redeem everybody. We’re supposed to think this bad. So to make it more obvious, at the end he is made to say, “and surely I will do it, wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4:1) If you’re clinging to a monotheist’s shame in coming anywhere near God’s honor or his glory, coveting it for yourself, then this is understandable. But Mormonism offers for us to be become the Father, following the example of his Son. Hmm, so then the offense must have been in wanting to save everyone? What did Lucifer do that was deserving of him coming to be known as the Prince of Darkness and the Lord of Liars, king of the miserable and the damned? I don’t think Mormon Doctrine even knows. All that Satan wanted is freely given to us anyway, there’s just a proper channel that must be respected, forms that must be filled out. Maybe Lucifer became damned because he was a humanist who hated the bureaucracy of celestial law. Seriously, what did he do? I don’t think Mormon doctrine even knows, for it offers multiple contradictory theories.
Some have figured that Satan’s offense was proposing a plan of salvation with no free will. The Lord explained in DC 29:
“36 And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine dhonor, which is my power; and also a third part of the ghosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;
37 And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels;
38 And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell.
39 And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet—”
K, it sounds like you need equally opposing forces of moral temptation for you to know the bitter from the sweet. It’s interesting that these Joe Smith revelations were given in 1830 before he had developed his deification doctrine to its Nauvoo Era form. It probably had not entered his mind at this point. The real reason Mormon doctrine doesn’t make any sense is because Joe made it up as he went, as he was influenced by the theological innovations of better men. Here it sounds like Satan wanted God’s honor, “which is my power,” the Lord says. But again, later these things would be freely offered to the saints anyway. I was anointed to be a king and a priest and a god to my own dominions like everyone else who goes through the temple. So, we’re left to flip back to these earlier revelations and wonder at what the point was. So that the 2/3rds could have agency and learn the bitter from the sweet? I guess that makes sense. What about the 1/3rd? Well, it says they had agency in heaven and chose it follow Satan. Wait, you don’t need a body to be tempted by evil forces? Huh. I guess they had Lucifer himself to tempt them, but whose temptations was Lucifer following? The premortsl Christ and the premortsl devil were children of God like the rest of us. It says we don’t understand light from darkness or sin from righteousness or bitter from sweet unless there are certain conditions, and none of these conditions can be applied to Lucifer. What gives? You’d think the soul that started the whole rebellion in heaven that sparked the struggle between good and evil which continues here on earth would be accountable in the same sense that anyone else is. But I don’t think he is.
Mormon God is a manipulative, soul-damning bastard. He explains right there in the verse above that his plan was screwy unless there was at least one Adversary (Hebrew: ha’satan) to make it work and someone had to take the fall. According to this understanding that agency required a setup including someone evil to tempt you to do evil and someone good to tempt you to do good, Lucifer could not have had any agency. Furthermore, it sounds like he’s being rather obedient to a divine order for one who rebels against God. It seems if he hates God so much, the best stratagem he could employ is to fold his arms and do nothing and watch Elohim pull his hair out trying to manipulate another soul into taking up that mantle. It’s a necessary mantle, as necessary as the role of savior, but it’s a thankless and rewardless one to say the least. These doctrines are not well formed. Maybe that’s because Mormonism is still suffering from the theological innovating that Joe did in the latter years of his life to justify taking as much puss for himself as he wanted. The Book of Mormon is so careful not to offend Christian monotheistic and monogamous and other sensibilities: in fact, Alexander Campbell observed in his review of it within the year it was published that it seemed to be right up the avenue of New England Protestant sectarian controversies of the time. But increasingly as Joe’s ego swelled as he defied governments and escaped death time and time again and even got away with theft (the Kirtland banking affair) and murder (Governor Boggs?), his revelations not only threw care to the wind, they bulldozed traditional Christian sensibilities and laughed maniacally while they did it. Perhaps he could preach to the King Follett Discourse when he did because by then he had a God complex. He was bedding dozens of women and getting away with it by keeping it from conscious awareness of the saints. He was running a little theocracy on the frontier where he held (or at least had override channels) all executive, legislative, and judicial power and he was even running for President. Anyone meeting in secret in that city at that time would have felt the pressure that to criticize Joseph was to risk their lives, which makes to publishing of the Nauvoo Expositor braver than you ever thought before. It was the OG MormonLeaks with the actual risk that comes with challenging corrupt power that WikiLeaks faces.
Who is Mormon Lucifer? The real answer is that he’s a contradictory character who Joseph redefined several times in his life as he had need. But I believed as a Mormon that these revelations were supposed to make sense, and I synthesized them together as well as I could. I came away with a mythology of the War in Heaven that seemed to say to me that coercing people’s hearts and minds was wrong. Forcing someone to violate their own conscience by making them do things they would not have done if they had had moral freedom is the supreme evil. God represents all good, and respect for moral agency was part of that. The axioms have stayed with me to this day even though I abandoned the myths seven ago. Lucifer wanted to deny us the chance to learn from our mistakes by smothering us with the “right” choices. But they’re not our choices if we didn’t make them. They’re someone else’s choices just using us as pawns. This made so much sense to me.
Which is why it bothered me to no end when my mom threatened to throw me out if I didn’t serve a full-time mission. Not just a mission, a full-time mission. I watched my cousin come home early and he was abused for that. I was planning to go. I was ready to go. I had so much anxiety I really shouldn’t have gone, but it was gonna my accomplishment. I, free, would choose to go and do the things which the Lord had commanded. And then my mother just bulldozed that feeling for me before I even left. When I was out there, I was losing this one Bible bash to a preacher’s son, and he remarked that if we went home early, we “knew what would happen.” I don’t remember if he meant go home early or if he meant go home and tell our families that they were wrong. It might have been his preacher dad who said that, actually. But, I was smitten with grief at his words because I knew that I had been attemptedly coerced by my own mother. He spoke true.
Satan’s plan. What even is that? To become like God? No. To coerce the agency of others? That must be it. But isn’t that what Elohim did to his own son of the morning? It’s all so confusing and hard to make sense of. The only way to say that Satan had agency is to say that agency is built in to our souls and requires none of this ridiculous doctrinal setup to have it and make moral choices. What did Lucifer actually do? He didn’t lie. In the Endowment presentation, the only person being real with Adam and Eve before they fell was the snake. He explained to Eve what was what, and he was right. He told her she would become as god, knowing good from evil, and that’s exactly what happened. I used to quote this verse from genesis to throw in evangelical and mainline Christian’s’ faces. Becoming like god is a sin, they said. That’s what the serpent offered our first parents: and I’m like, but it wasn’t a lie though. They became as gods, and then I appealed to the Book of Mormon to prove that God intended this all to happen in the first place. In other words, he meant for us to become as he is, at least in knowing good and evil, and the Book of Mormon does more than any other scripture I know to explain how that works. So then, what was Satan’s crime?
Rebellion? Satan sounds like a humanist to me who couldn’t bear to see souls perish or even suffer, and he hated bureaucracy with a passion. The realms of the gods are full of stupid celestial bureaucracy. Apparently every plan of salvation in every cosmos/generation of the gods goes down the same way, for in the endowment Lucifer tells God “that which has been done in other worlds” in answer to the question what had he been doing on earth. “I have been giving this (the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) to them (our naive, innocent Christian first parents).” The endowment sounds like Joe was searching even further to clarify things that didn’t even make sense to him, and he did not succeed. God curses Lucifer, and Lucifer acts genuinely shocked: “if thou cursest me for the same thing which has been done in other worlds, Then I will take the spirits who follow me and they shall possess the bodies thou createst for Adam and Eve!” Wait, was that last part not how things were done in other worlds? Im so confused.
None of it ever made any sense. As a believer, I could search these things out to their very depths and scrape the bottom and I never found the sense toro make of them. It left me with thoughts that sometimes you have rebel against God to care about people, which should always be the “moral” choice. But that’s not right. That’s atheism. Well, respect moral free will no matter what! But why did my own parents coerce me about my mission? Why is everything framed in a way to control what you think? Why don’t Mormons want to talk to you when you tell them you don’t believe anymore? I had so many thoughts like this, and I wanted to work down the whole list. I wasn’t just gonna read an antimormon screed, although there would be time for that too if they would entertain me. But my Dad says not to give the devil stage time. Funny: I read that God placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil right there alongside the tree of life and allowed Satan to tempt our first parents because if you don’t give the devil stage time equal and opposite to enticing people to do good and follow God, there is no free will. You gotta figure that to be a God, you gotta be made of study stuff. My honor is my power, God says. His integrity causes the intelligences or spirit matter in all creation to honor him and obey his commands, and if he besmirched his own integrity he would cease to be God, as the Book of Mormon says with Cleon Skousen’s explanation attached. My dad loves Skousen. I’ve read Skousen. I’ve contemplated my father’s worldview through and through. I’ve left nothing overturned. But my conclusions are not valid. Not even my questions are valid, because it’s not the thoughts they wanted me having. But isn’t that Satan’s plan? What is the point of talking about free will at all? It seems like most people coast through those parts of the Book of Mormon like it’s just a cheap way to explain how Genesis makes any sense.
It’s actually an axiomatic gift that will blossom into humanism and moral autonomy if you let it take root and if you do not cast it out by your unbelief in man’s ability to reason or choose what is good, which most do when they start to taste moral freedom. They get scared and give it away as fast as they can. Moral freedom is scary. Joseph Smith did terrible things with his. But he was a piece of shit. Not everyone is like him. William Law was not like him. William Law used his moral freedom to risk his reputation and his place with the saints to stop the abuse of women. He was free, and the other saints tangled themselves up in Joe’s net of lies and gave their autonomy away. We do read that if that you don’t act on the light and knowledge offered to you, it is taken away until you know nothing concerning these things. Again, I’ve read the Book of Mormon and loved it more than father will ever give me credit. He refuses to believes that who I am today is the logical conclusion of the things he taught me to value, but it is. Don’t worry: I’m not a Satanist. I don’t believe these myths anymore, and sometimes I wonder if Joseph Smith did either.