Can we learn anything from Satan other than the consequences of excessive pride?
I think so.
Consider these fundamentals:
- The family is the building block of civilization.
- Strong marriages make up a strong and joy-filled Church.
- Satan hates humanity. Why? Because we are made in the image of God.
- Satan hates marriage. Why? Because marriage is a spiritual image and testimony of Christ’s relationship to the Church.
So, knowing that Satan hates humanity and marriage, are there insights we can learn about marriage by studying what the Devil despises?
In a recent article at Aleteia.org, titled Exorcist says there are 3 ways Satan likes to divide husbands and wives, author Silvia Lucchetti writes about Fr. Ambrogio Villa, a priest and exorcist of the diocese of Milan, Italy, who shared his observations as to how Satan attacks married couples.
He listed three ways: “Distracting us from prayer; by exacerbating our individualism; and by twisting the way we live our sexuality.”
Are there lessons to learn here? Absolutely.
Distracting Us From Prayer
There is an old adage — the couple who prays together stays together. Though somewhat cliche-ish, this concept is not without merit. Though not a guarantee, praying together daily strengthens the bond between husband and wife. Some studies indicate that married couples who regularly pray together have less than a 1% chance of divorce. Unfortunately, there are also studies suggesting less than 10% of Christian married couples pray together.
My wife and I enjoy praying The Liturgy of the Hours together, especially the Night Prayer before bedtime. Such devotional time together builds intimacy and a common purpose as we add prayers for those the Lord brings to our hearts. The humility and transparency incumbent to a joint prayer time strengthens our love for one another, enhances communications between us, and forges the oneness we seek in marriage. It keeps our relationship under the safety of God’s umbrella and in union with Him.
The lesson here is to pray together as a couple daily.
The exaltation of individualism
The biblical mandate that a man and wife become “one flesh” involves more than the obvious physical reference — it is the merging of two souls and two hearts forming a new family unit. Ephesians 5 reminds us that husbands and wives serve one another. Even more so for husbands whose charge is to “love your wives, even as Christ loved the church.” And how did Christ love the Church? Sacrificially.
Fr. Villa reminds us that Satan’s purpose is to destroy the family, and what better way than to foment division and selfishness within the marriage. Planting the seeds of individualism with a focus on defending one’s own rights without consideration of your spouse undermines the institution of the family that “lives on the exchange of love.”
My wife and I dated for a year before we decided to marry. Now five years into our marriage, we delight in doing things together and encouraging one another. However, we have also experienced conflict in our individual interests. I love to write, read, and play golf. She delights in singing (she’s a cantor at our church) and doing ancestry research. Recent extended family drama has forced us to sacrifice some of those hobbies and habits. Each of us could have demanded time to “do our own thing.” Instead, we both agreed that sacrificing some earthly pleasures in the short term is a small price to pay for long-term, if not eternal, benefits. We are and seek to continue to be a married couple and not married singles.
Uncontrolled or inhibited sexuality
Fr. Villa’s third point highlights the obvious tactics of the evil one to encourage couples to excess or suppress their sexuality — In other words, sexual transgressions like pornography and adultery or, the opposite extreme, denying one another the gift of sexuality. Remember, Christian marriage is a nuptial mystery reflecting Christ, the bridegroom and His bride, the Church. So is it any wonder that when asked during an exorcism why he was tormenting a married couple from living out the sacrament of marriage, Satan responded by saying, “I hate it when husband and wife love each other.”
The lesson to be learned? Find your delight in one another and allow sexuality to be a gift to your spouse. And communicate with one another so that it doesn’t become a source of bitterness between you. In doing so, you will not only find joy in one another and glorify the Lord, but you will also be frustrating Satan.
No Need to Fear
There is no need to fear Satan. But while he is a defeated foe, he is still one who seeks to destroy what God loves. We should not ignore him, nor should we be obsessed with him. In Matthew 10:16, Jesus charges his disciples to be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. Other versions speak to being wise as serpents and innocent or harmless as doves. In marriage, we too should be aware that the wiles of the evil one seek to destroy us, our marriage, and anything that brings glory to God. Being shrewd and wise means we must be aware of the Devil’s snares. Being simple and innocent as doves means we should live righteously and not allow Satan to plant the seeds of destruction in our family unit.
A marriage that includes a husband, wife, and God becomes a beacon of light in an ever-darkening world. Discerning the destructive tactics of the Devil can direct us to what and how we should love.
And that’s a life lesson we must live daily.