I’ve been thinking for some time that LaVey’s first Satanic Statement, “Satan represents indulgence, not abstinence!”, if interpreted in a nuanced and constructive way, can be used to articulate a more complex and fruitful image of how to live one’s life than LaVey’s own writings by themselves may make evident to many people.
And since fairly-recently I’ve run across a few instances on social media where it sounds like someone got turned off LaVeyan Satanism because of being under the impression that indulgence meant something that was not nuanced and constructive in this way, now seems as good a time as ever to write an entry on this subject.
There are three major points I’d want to make in this entry about my own understanding of the First Satanic Statement:
- The Statement does not only mean “animalistic” pleasures when it talks about “indulgence.”
- Inasmuch as the Statement can be construed in terms of “this is what makes life better for everyone, and therefore society would be better if we set things up to best foster it for everyone,” it arguably can lead to consequences irritating to folks on the right who want small government and no social programs.
- Inasmuch as the Statement can be construed in terms of “it’s better to address a problem by adding something constructive to the situation than by taking something away,” it arguably can lead to consequences irritating to the censorious “no art should be allowed to exist that doesn’t reflect my politics” folks on the far-left.
As usual, I’ll elaborate on each of these points below – the third one at much greater length than the other two, as to say it has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine for the last few years would be an understatement. An implied thesis behind all of this though is that it’s possible to interpret the First Satanic Statement of LaVeyan Satanism in such a way that it implicitly leads to much that is in the Seven Tenets of the Satanic Temple, re: compassion for others, seeking justice, inviolability of the body and freedom including the freedom to offend.
I will grant that whether most LaVeyans take the First Satanic Statement in the way I am describing is a separate question. Similarly, I have no problem professing that from a “what is the better face-forward for a group of Satanists living in and trying to constructively influence society at large,” Satanic Temple’s formulation is obviously better. It is thus primarily the assumption of some that the LaVeyan formulation cannot be constructive that I am arguing against in this entry.
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