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A New Definition of Evil

By Edited Jan 21, 2014 0 2

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:

Once we assuage our conscience by calling something a "necessary evil", it begins to look more and more necessary and less and less evil. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist (1917-1986)

I spent more than half my life blithely correcting people when ever they would say, "Money is the root of all evil."

"The quote actually is, 'The LOVE of money is the root of all evil," I would correct without thinking. Only recently did I realize I totally disagree with this statement. Let's just look at some situations that might be considered "evil" to see how well they line up with that logic.

1) Molesting an underage child, like a two or a three year old. Seems evil, does it not? And yet I am hard pressed to see how the love of money is involved here. Most offenders do it happily for free. Certainly the child is not benefiting monetarily. I guess the Christians would have to concede this act is NOT evil, if it doesn't fall under the definition of coming from the 'love of money." That doesn't square with me. I think there should be a more concise definition of evil.

Let us consider another evil act.

2) Gang rape in the African Congo. According to the film I saw the men perpetrating these wild rages are not getting paid for it. They justify their evil behavior to the stress of war. Some of them think it is a necessary evil because they believe they derive supernatural strength from gang raping and mutilating women. Either which way, no love of money is involved here. So either the acts are not evil, or a better definition needs to be created.

3) Child abuse by biological parents is quite often not motivated by monetary considerations. Children are beaten by harried drug addicted parents, abandoned and neglected with aplomb. Take my co-workers, Dopey and Lucky, who as they reach the age of 30 have still not learned how to interact with people. They will ignore you if you try to make conversation with them. They avoid eye contact. Neither has learned to drive. Will they ever be able to survive on their own? So far as I know there wasn't any inherent retardation or autism, just really bad parenting. Their parents were controlling to a fault. Neither one is capable of making a decision if more than two choices are involved.

I could go on, and yet I think even if these were the only three instances in history, they are clear enough to prove my point. The love of money may well be the root of much evil, obviously not all evil. So what then is evil? As the above quote intimates we are dangerously slippery on our parameters. There was a time when people thought taking advantage of others was evil. After the publication of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" many people came to think owning slaves was evil. Slaves had been owned for most of human history. The bible mentions slaves. In fact, Jesus accepts slavery as a matter of course. He never admonishes slave owners to give up their slaves.

The main difference between slaves in the ancient world and slavery in the modern world is that slaves are no longer a display of wealth, they have become a means of wealth. People who traffic sex slaves in this day are making major amounts of money. As long as money is to be made, people will risk all manner of punishment to continue the trade. There are as many slaves now world wide as there ever were, despite wide spread laws passed against it over 150 years ago.

People who belong to a group called COYOTE, which stands for "call off your old tired ethics" argue that some girls like being sex workers. They think that if prostitution were legalized everywhere the pimps and violence and sex trafficking would disappear. Everyone would treat the industry with the same respect porn movies get, and adult toys and all would be well. I find this hard to believe. It was my experience in Hawaii that one hundred per cent of the women I knew who worked as pole dancers had been molested as children. Intimacy was still an issue for them. Is it a necessary evil? Well men do like looking at cute girls dancing, never mind that they could see the same flesh at the beach.

I think it's actually borderline evil to suggest there is no danger in promoting sex. How many studies need to be done to prove that men start objectifying women when they look at too much of that stuff? IF you have no more feeling for a woman than you do for a chair it's easy enough to justify breaking her arm when she won't do what you want her to do. In fact I have a suggestion for a new and more clear definition of evil which is "gaining at the detriment of others."

For example, let's say you want to have an intimate relationship with someone. Fine, there's no inherent evil in finding another consenting adult. A child can't give consent. Even if they seem like a very mature 14 year old, with a body to match, and mom lets her dress like a tart, the truth is 14 year olds are incapable of understanding what is involved. They are not able to sign legal contracts for the same reason. How could they possibly be equipped to give consent to an intimate relationship? It only gets worse the younger the child. Molestation is all about gaining at the expense of someone else. As the John merrily goes his way, the child is set up for a lifetime of bad relationships.

I could make the same argument for rape. It's so obviously gaining at someone else's detriment. Now lets consider the case of Dopey and Lucky. The parents gained in that they live off of the money these two girl/women make. Neither Dopey nor Lucky have the home economic skills to budget, feed or clothe themselves. In fact I don't believe either one has even paid a bill in their life. Lucky doesn't have a checking account. How could they leave home when they don't know what a lease is, couldn't qualify for a mortgage? The parents have nothing but gained to the detriment of these two. That is the definition of evil.

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Comments

Mar 12, 2011 6:58pm
Yehoasheba
This article is sad. Not in the way it was written, nor the quality of vocabulary that was used to convey the message, but because these two girls are two of many. I taught in an At-Risk Teen Charter School for three years. Out of 250 kids who attended this school, more than 80 percent were just like these two girls. I had students that spent the first six years of their lives living in a car because their mother's boyfriend didn't want them in the hotel room they lived in. Imagine being 6 years old, and your mom is tucking you in at night, in a car. She then goes into a warm hotel room with her boyfriend, and you spend the night alone in a cold car. This is the condition many kids today are left in, and yes, it is more than evil, but I believe that they will be avenged. The day is coming. Thanks for the article, and blessings on the writer.
Oct 25, 2011 10:38am
rainman
I absolutely agree that your list of examples all demonstrate evil. But in light of your other articles I read today, I felt compelled to comment on this one.

First let me say this...I can't comprehend the range of emotions you must have gone through dealing with your ex-husband and his church (A Critique of Fundamentalist Christianity). I can see how that would turn you against all things Christian. I won't use this comment to sway you, although I hope and pray that you find healing and comfort, and rediscover a relationship with God apart from the corruption of man-made religion.

Regarding the premise of this article, however, you've applied fundamentalist preferences (i.e. the "King James Only" crowd). The King James translation and modern variations on it, are the only translations that seem to state categorically that "the love of money is the root of all evil." Most modern translations don't pin all evil solely to the love of money. Unless we all become scholars of ancient Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew, we have to depend on these translations. When reading passages that are difficult, it usually helps to read more than one translation.

Even if we only consider the KJV, though, I still think you're taking a single verse out of context. The preceding verses clearly show that the subject at hand are those who think of godliness as a means to financial gain. Given that as the topic, I think the KJV phrase seems less of a categorical link of evil to money.

Great--and evil--things have been done by taking single verses out of context. God's word wasn't meant for soundbites...it was meant for greater understanding.
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