The Battle


By Eric Menees

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short! (Revelation 12:7-15 ESV)

On September 29th we celebrated the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. On this feast day we were reminded that we are in the midst of a great and cosmic battle. The 12th chapter of the Revelation of St. John reminds us that early in creation some of the heavenly beings, who were also granted free will, chose, like our first parents, “self” ahead of God. The archangel Lucifer – chose to turn the light upon himself rather than God. As a result, he and his followers were cast out of heaven with St. Michael and the angels leading the battle. 

That battle continues on earth and, thankfully, we are not alone in the struggle. Saint Michael and his angel warriors are still at work, still flanking the enemy, still forming a phalanx in front of us. However, Satan generally doesn’t attack us in a full-frontal assault. No, Satan the master deceiver is much subtler and patient, often taking the long approach.

How does Satan deceive us as individuals and as a society? He generally has a three-pronged attack that comes in so quietly, so nimbly that we hardly know he’s at work. The Devil’s task is to separate us from God, His Church, our families and ourselves by turning us from recognizing and avoiding sin to tolerating it, accepting it, and eventually advocating for it. Tolerate – Accept – Advocate. 

Tolerate: Picture the man or woman who innocently, or not so innocently, looks at pornography. Satan whispers in the ear – “This isn’t so bad, these are all adults and adults have every right to look at pornography, it’s not illegal after all.” 

Accept: Once Satan has convinced us that we should tolerate pornography then the question becomes, “Why don’t I look at it? Sex is beautiful, stimulating, a God given gift. There is nothing so wrong with it, as long as children aren’t involved, of course.” 

Advocate: After a while Satan teaches us to justify our actions to the point of actually advocating for sex workers and the pornographic industry. We tell ourselves, “The problem isn’t the industry. The problem is that these women and men have been harmed by a judgmental system that is sex-negative. Not only should pornography be legal and accepted we should organize and unionize the sex trade as a whole. Why simply limit this to the digital virtual world?” 

Of course, Satan seeks to close our eyes and turn our hearts from the harm that pornography causes. The objectification of women and men, placing an ideal that the average person cannot live up to. The harm that pornography causes in marriages. Pornography does not stimulate a deeper and more connective sexuality between husband and wife, but rather divides couples spiritually as well as physically. Neuroscience has demonstrated that viewing pornography stimulates the production of endorphins which are normally produced in a loving sexual encounter. Thus, it takes ever increasing stimulation for the endorphins to be produced, leaving the loving sexual encounter behind. 

Again, Satan tries to hide from the individual the sex trafficking that goes on behind the scene or the degrading and well documented poor work conditions that these actors/sex workers undergo. The list could go on and on regarding the harm that this industry causes to individuals and society. 

In addition to misleading and deceiving the individual, Lucifer uses the same ploy to undermine and change society. For example, look at the issue of abortion. Satan first said, we should tolerate abortion. “Well, abortion may not be for you but these women are suffering, it’s their body after all.” Then Satan said we should accept abortion. The law protects a woman’s “right to choose.” The child in the womb is no longer a child but a mass of “potential”— unrealized potential that may simply be a drain on the mother, keeping her from realizing her potential. Finally, Satan champions advocacy that argues that no one has a right to tell any other person what they can or cannot do with their body. Again, Satan turns the eye and the heart from acknowledging the hundreds of thousands of babies that are murdered by an industry that devalues and dehumanizes human beings who have bought into the lie that these are not humans but tumors which should be removed. The psychological, spiritual and physical harm done to women in the name of liberty is beyond our understanding, and women are suffering daily with the knowledge that they participated in an act that took a life. 

If we extend this argument, we see that Satan uses this same ploy of Tolerate, Accept and Advocate with “innovations” in the Church. Innovations like the ordination of women to the presbyterate, same sex “marriages,” or pushing to ordain men and women who suffer from gender dysphoria.  

Thankfully, God in his mercy provides us with the Truth that is the remedy to the schemes and lies of the Devil. We have the Word of God that speaks mightily of the dignity of every human being from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. We receive the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament of Holy Eucharist when we are reminded of and united to the sacrifice that Christ made for us, bearing the wrath of God that we deserve. It is in the reception and integration of God’s grace through the sacraments that God grants us the strength and courage to go into the world with the good news of Jesus Christ, of the Gospel. And it is the faith and strength of the Church, the bride of Christ, that grants us eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to love. And lastly, we have a whole army of heavenly beings whose desire is to serve God by being his messengers to and defenders of God’s adopted children.  

The Rt. Rev. Eric Menees is the Bishop of San Joaquin, California, and President of FIFNA.

Forward in Christ

Proclaiming the Faith and Order of the Church, given to us by Christ.