It is true that we go on vacation, but there is somebody who never goes on vacation, and for that matter, will never go on vacation. Can you guess who that might be? The devil! That is right, the devil! He works 25 hours a day, eight days a week, and 366 days every year. Indeed, he is one of the hardest workers in town! Father of lies and murderer from the beginning, Prince of this world, ancient serpent, Lucifer, Satan, demon, devil—all are names for the devil found in the Sacred Texts of Scripture. The saints have coined other names highlighting different aspects of his evil intent; here are a few. Saint Thomas Aquinas calls the devil The Tempter; Saint Augustine calls him an angry dog on a leash—better keep your distance! Saint Ignatius, who gave us the Spiritual Exercises and the Rules for Discernment of Spirits (in part explaining the work of the devil in our lives), calls the devil The Enemy of human nature. Then on the Liturgical Feast Day of Saint Martin of Tours, this saint calls the devil You bloody brute! Finally, Saint Peter, in one of his letters calls the devil a Roaring Lion seeking to devour whom he can. We are called to resist him!
One of the primary attacks of the devil in modern society is launching his missiles against the oldest institution established by God, the family. As God willed and designed it from the start, marriage is the union between man and woman, husband and wife, united in a Sacrament that we call Holy Matrimony, open to having children and raising them in the love and fear of the Lord.
The devil knows clearly that if he can work to destroy the institution of the family he can help to unravel and destroy the whole fabric of society. Historians tell us that once the family comes unraveled the society quickly decomposes! This being the case then what are some typical temptations that the devil launches against couples so as to weaken and eventually destroy the family? In this short essay we will present five of the most insidious but common temptations that the Father of lies and murderer from the beginning—the devil—launches against the family.
1. LIVING TOGETHER/FREE UNION/COHABITATION/TRIAL MARRIAGE. We have listed various titles for the many couple agreements that militate against the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Two generations ago, a Catholic couple who chose one of the living arrangements stated above would be viewed as radicals, renegades, pariahs, and a blatant scandal far and wide. Today, if a couple starts to live together in a so called Trial Marriage, it is almost seen as normal. Many young people state: “We’ve got to try it out first, see whether or not we’ve got CHEMISTRY!!! We have to see if we jive, if we’re compatible! In the meantime they are willing to live outside of the state of grace, and thereby place in jeopardy their eternal salvation, not to mention the bad example given to children born to them! Couples living in this state are becoming a real epidemic; worse yet, the society is desensitized into believing that this is normal and OK! Behind the scenes in this scenario is none other than the devil, the Liar!
2. SAME SEX-UNIONS. Even though same-sex unions have been legalized, that does not mean that it is right. As in the case of abortion that was legalized in the United States in 1973, same-sex unions being legalized does not mean that it is moral. What is legal is not always moral. Sacred Scripture teaches us going back to the Book of Genesis that God created man and woman, Adam and Eve, and said that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. What God has united—between man and woman—let no man rent asunder (Gen 3). Behind this lie of same-sex unions is the devil.
3. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus raised love, faithfulness, and purity to a much higher level. Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5:27-28) One of the modern interpretations of this passage, as related to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, is that even though a married man may not commit the act of physical adultery with another woman, still he can commit adultery in other ways—through his eyes, in his mind, and in the depths of his heart. Of course, one of the most common forms of modern adultery is that of married men (and sometimes women) who are viewing pornography. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, this is becoming more and more common, wreaking havoc in families and destroying families. Once again, behind much of the porn industry is not simply one devil, but a huge multitude of demons! One of the most common phrases that tries to downplay the gravity of viewing pornography—especially in men—is the following: “Well, boys will be boys; men will be men.” At the same time families are being destroyed and children severely wounded and scarred by this all their lives!
4. AVOIDING BEING OPEN TO LIFE. Years ago couples would marry and long for children to come as soon as possible. Couples having 6, 8, 10, or 12 children was almost the norm. This was the case even if economically the couple did not have an abundance, to say the least. Nowadays it is the opposite. Couples get married and their mentality is how can we avoid having children. For many the philosophy is as such: let us get our home, our new car, our big-screen Television, our yacht, our vacation resort, and after all of these material commodities are purchased, then it is time to have a child or two—at most! In a society saturated by materialism, hedonism, egocentrism, and utilitarianism, having the thing prevails over bringing into the world a new entity with a soul and an immortal existence that we call a human person. This contraceptive, anti-life atmosphere is promoted and cultivated by the devil. Our God is a God of life. The devil is a liar and a murderer from the beginning.
5. POOR COMMUNICATION BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE. It must be said on a social level that many couples from the very start of their marriage never really learned to dialogue; they never learned the all-important art of communication. Communication is an art that none of us is born with; it must be learned. Therefore, before arriving at the day of pronouncing faithfulness in good times and in bad, in health and in sickness, in riches and in poverty, until death do we part, couples should be aware of the dire need to communicate, to grow in the art of communication, and to do all in their power to never give up striving to improve in their communication skills. Even in this process, the devil can insidiously worm his way into the lives of couples to block communication in the following ways:
1) The devil can convince a couple simply not to speak so as to avoid conflict.
2) The devil can tempt a couple to utter hurtful words that are like bee-stings!
3) The devil can work in such a way that one does all the talking and the other says nothing.
4) The devil can convince a couple to avoid talking to God. In sum, God helps couples to communicate well.
5) Finally, the devil can move a couple to talk more to another person (past boyfriend/girl-friend or even a new “friend” of the opposite sex) than to their own spouse, to the great detriment of their marriage.
In conclusion, it is incumbent upon all Christians to be keenly aware of the work of the devil who is bent on destroying humanity. One of his first attacks is on the Institution of the Family, the cradle of the child, the Domestic Church, and the future of humanity. Let us turn to the Holy Family—Saint Joseph, Mary and Jesus and beg for their intercession in helping us become aware of the cunning attempts of the devil, reject his temptations, and foster all that is pure, noble, and worthy of praise!