Fans of the Twilight Zone will remember the classic episode “To Serve Man.” In the story, aliens from a distant world come to Earth with the offer “to help.” Initially reluctant, the inhabitants of Earth are quickly convinced that the aliens mean them no harm; quite the contrary, alien technology helps to eliminate many of Earth’s struggles and problems.
As the story progresses, the aliens offer to take people to their home world, which they promise is a veritable paradise. Many sign up and soon embark on the alien ships to begin their adventure. And why shouldn’t they? After all, everything the aliens did was pleasing and helpful; there was no immediate evidence that they would, or could, hurt anyone.
Many people today have adopted a worldview that looks only at the short term pleasure, and not the long term harm, of their pursuits. They believe that they can – perhaps even should – do whatever they like, as long as it doesn’t “hurt anyone.” Where Christians once derived their morality from the teachings of Scripture, many – some would say most – have adopted this humanist worldview, confident that their notions of what “not hurting” someone means are similar to God’s. This willful blindness to God’s law is not new to our culture; it has been practiced throughout history. But where once Christians sought to be “salt and light” in their culture, today’s increasingly intolerant public square is making such efforts increasingly difficult.
Which brings me back to the Twilight Zone. Not everyone was convinced that the aliens were benevolent. Several sought to crack the code of their alien language, so they could translate a book which was left behind. The book’s title – To Serve Man – seemed consistent with the aliens’actions in providing near-miraculous service to mankind, such as restoring the fertility of the soil and rendering nuclear weapons harmless. The story ends with a shocking, albeit too late, discovery: “to serve man” is actually the title of a cookbook. The aliens had come to turn people into food.
While not seeking to literally consume us, our adversary the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:7) He does this by lies and deceptions, for he is the father of deceit. And the oldest lie of all? The same one told in the Garden – you don’t need to follow God’s rules, for you too can be like God.
And so we must be cautious. A philosophy that tells us to do whatever we want as long as it doesn’t “hurt anyone” is a highly seductive philosophy, one that “tickles the ears” of listeners. (2 Tim. 4:3) But how can we truly foresee the long term effects of our choices? How can we know, when we give in to our temptations and embrace them as good, what ultimate harm will come to us, and to those we say we love? As Jesus taught, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but to forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
Seduction comes camouflaged, and it comes in many forms. Behind it is always a lie, a promise of short term pleasure that seeks to conceal the long term harm. Staying true to God’s will requires us to know and follow his law. Trying to substitute a “do no harm” philosophy may seem enlightened, but in the end it will not serve – neither man nor mankind.
Posted by Al Serrato