I was born and raised in the LDS (Mormon) church, and left during my teen years. To many, Mormonism is not considered a Christian religion, though Mormons consider themselves to be Christians and believe in the Bible. There is some overlap, as well as some contradiction, in the teachings of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Seeing as Mormonism is what some would call a fringe sect of Christianity, Geoffrey recently asked me to share a few thoughts about the Mormon view of Satan.
Much of the Mormon version of Satan is in keeping with the traditional Christian version. To be honest, I have a hard time remembering which bits of doctrine are distinctly Mormon, and which come from the Bible. One could say that the lines are blurred, so to speak. But the “origin story” of Satan as far as Mormonism is concerned is as follows.
Before we were put on this earth, we were spirits in Heaven. We were all children of god, but we desired to have a physical body of flesh and blood, as he did. It is for this reason that god created the earth. We would come to earth to be put to a spiritual test, and if we passed, we would get to return to Heaven in our physical bodies. Two plans were proposed to god. One by Jesus Christ, the other, Satan (also called Lucifer). Satan’s plan was to not allow us, his spiritual brothers and sisters, to have the power of free agency or choice. His plan was designed to ensure that each and every one of us would be able to succeed in our test on earth, so that all of us would be able to live in Heaven with our Heavenly Father for all eternity.
Jesus’ plan, however, was to allow each of us to have free agency, or, the right to choose between good and evil. God chose Jesus’ plan, as it was a better test of worthiness. Satan became angry and waged a war against god, Jesus, and those who sided with them. It is said that one third of Heaven sided with Satan (how do we know that?). The one third that was on Satan’s side lost the war in Heaven, and was cast out forever, never to be given bodies.
It is in this way that Satan and his followers tempt us. They do not have physical bodies, so they are able to both infiltrate and be cast out of a room, area, etc. It is very curious that Mormons do not believe Satan has a physical body, because Brigham Young, the second president of the church, stated that apostates (people who leave the church) “will become gray haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the devil” * How on earth can a spirit have dark skin? Either he has a body, or he doesn’t. One without a body cannot have dark skin on that body which does not exist.
Not all Mormons subscribe to this bit of doctrine, and the church has even made efforts to cover the Journal of Discourses up, as it is riddled with absurdities (including a statement that people live on the surface of the sun).
I don’t think I’ve ever seen any official church doctrine teaching this, but I have heard it be said in the Mormon church that Satan is a homosexual. I repeat, this opinion is not official doctrine of the church. It doesn’t surprise me, though, that some members of the church believe this. They believe that Satan is the source of all evil, and seeing as they believe homosexuality to be immoral, it’s not hard to understand that some Mormons think of Satan as possessing this particular trait.
So there you have it, folks. Mormon Satan is an invisible, black, gray haired homosexual. I do adore the Mormon, and even Christian, Satan. He is an incredibly intriguing character, and the Mormon “origin story” would make a GREAT fantasy movie. Perhaps I’ll make that movie one day, and play Satan myself. It will be deliciously evil.
*Journal of Discourses, Volume 5, page 332. The Journal of Discourses is a series of volumes of talks given by early church leaders, as well as written passages. As far as I know, the church does not consider them to be doctrine (anymore), and they are not discussed in Mormon church. It’s clear that the church is embarrassed by them, which is why many Mormons have never even heard of the Journal of Discourses.
Posted by Tom
Interesting post! This just made it’s way onto my Google Alerts for “Mormon”. Anyway, I’m bored and thought I’d offer some more Mormon perspective here:
A lot of what you describe about the Pre-Earth council and Satan’s involvement come from Moses 4:1-2, in the Book of Abraham that Joseph Smith translated. It might be helpful to read some of that:
” 1 And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan … is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
2 But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.”
From the above verses we can see that Jesus was always the chosen Messiah – there was no decision to be made between Him and Satan. There was also no plans being presented before the council to decide what kind of Earth life we should have. Jesus’ plan was “Father, thy will be done.” It was also always Heavenly Father’s plan to send us to Earth to receive bodies and be tested by the requirements of faith – that was WHY He created us in the first place (This is in contrast to your statement that “We desired to have a physical body of flesh and blood… For this reason God created the Earth.” It didn’t depend on our desires.)
Also, you asked where we get the doctrine that a third part of Heaven followed Satan and became devils on the Earth. That comes from D&C 29:36-37 which says,
“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 honor, which is my power, and also a third part of the hosts of heaven he turned against me because of their agency, and they were thrust down and became the devil and his angels” (You can also check Revelations 12:3-4 to get the equivalent teaching from the Bible)
You also asked how it’s possible we could become “gray-haired, wrinkled and black, like the devil” if Satan does not have a body. While I disagree with Brigham Young and the Journal of Discourses on many subjects, this is a fairly easy question to answer. Satan does have a spirit body, and so do we all. The Brother of Jared, before Christ’s birth, saw Jesus’ finger touch the stones to light the barges that would take his people to America. He then saw Jesus’ whole body. This is before Jesus even had a physical body. One could imagine that Brigham Young was referring to the state of Satan’s spirit body, and how our spirits could come to receive his likeness.
About Satan’s homosexuality… hahaha, that made me laugh. I’m in too much of a hurry now to look that one up, but it sounds like a pretty typical Mormon rumor. I’ve never heard that one myself, but maybe it was more popular in your generation.
One thing I’m surprised you left out of the post is the Endowment Ceremony video in the Temple, which features Satan as a prominent, very interesting character. There’s a lot to be said about how the Church decided to portray him. You should look up the ceremony on the YouTubes to get the jist of it. In my mind, most Mormons probably know more about Satan from that video than from any other source. I’d like to see another post from you on this 🙂
Thank-you for commenting on Tom’s post. Tom is a contributor to our blog. He is publishing a series of videos on youtube concerning his exit from Mormonism if you are interested in viewing more of his thoughts. Here is a link to his youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/BritishInvasion91. We recommend his videos, they make for very interesting viewing.
Geoffrey & Mika