The Accuser

The defendant stood when he was called, a tall, handsome figure in the mold of Jimmy Stewart. He blinked a little and ambled to the stand, his back erect, but not proud—assured. There were some growths of hair upon his chin and upper lip, as if he had forgotten to shave. His eyes were bright and lively, and as he faced the court, a good-natured smile flitted across his face.

The tension was palpable as he was sworn in, but it proceeded without incident.

The defense questioned its witness, then turned him over to the prosecutor.

“Your name is Lucifer, correct?”

“Yes, that is what I said earlier,” the defendant answered politely.

“You understand that you are accused of countless incidents of murder, extortion, blackmail, and betrayal, and that these acts have caused untold amounts of suffering?”

“I am aware of the accusations. I have been aware of them for a long time.”

“You claim to be the victim of a continuous and well-funded smear campaign.”

“I am innocent on all accounts, so, yes, that is what I claim.”

“Tell me, what book did you take your oath upon?”

“The Bible.”

“The Bible clearly states that you tempted mankind and that your desire is to drag as many of us into hell with you as possible. Is that not so?”

“Does it really say that?” he asked. “If you have read the Bible, then you remember how God murdered every firstborn child in Egypt and later drowned their army. You will also remember how he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and commanded his people to slaughter every man, woman, and child in Canaan. Perhaps you will remember, too, how he threatened to wipe out his own chosen people and only at Moses’ insistence relented, or how he allowed Samson to crush a palace full of men. They too had their wives and families. I could list many more incidents. His prophets foretold years of famine and war and brutality, and yet he did nothing to stop it. Where in that long litany of atrocities is my name mentioned?

“I confess that I rebelled against God. But that is not what you accuse me of. You won’t accuse me of it because you admire me for it. You accuse me instead of all the phantom evils that plague mankind. I understand you need to blame someone. At one time you would not even have bothered with a trial, because you already assumed my fate was eternal damnation—but you are wiser now. You have made progress. I can see the sympathy you hold for me in your eyes and in your questions. You know that I am not to blame for all the pains and uncertainty of life. But you are only now allowing yourself to admit it, because what is new is hated, because progress is repressed—until the people, with one voice, rise up and overthrow the tyrannical authority that oppresses them. God is the one who sentences you to death, not me. For what? An apple? He’s the one who lets your child grow ill, not me. He’s the one who lets you lose your job. Is that love, to let his so-called children suffer? Couldn’t he stop it all if he wanted? He is Almighty, isn’t he? But he is callous and distant and powerful. He talks a good game, but where is he when you’re alone or hurt or dying?

“Convict me if you will, but ask yourself truthfully—do you want a God who expects what you can never do? He demands perfection, but he knows you sin. He doesn’t care about your happiness. He cares about his own. Don’t judge him by his words—judge him by his actions. Yes, I tempted mankind. I hoped to encourage it to seize its own freedom.”

The trial continued, and at its end, Satan was declared innocent by a jury of his peers.

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