The church was overcoming the darkness. The kingdom of heaven was advancing. So Satan held a council of war to determine the best way to defeat the church.
“Who will devise a strategy to stop this troublesome church?” asked Satan.
A cruel-looking demon stepped forward. His flesh was covered with ulcerated sores, and his face was hideously deformed. When he spoke it sounded like acid dripping on hot stones.
“I will persecute the church,” he said. “I will put them to death and beat them and hound them from place to place. I will imprison them and cause them to suffer for daring to side with our Enemy.”
“No!” said a smooth, reasonable voice, and another demon stepped forward. He was a handsome devil, worldly and urbane. “When you persecute the church, she grows stronger. Listen to me. I will give them what they want most.”
“What will you give them?” asked Satan.
“I will give them respectability,” said the debonair demon. “I will cause them to be esteemed in their community. I will flatter them with honor and respect until they love the praises of men more than the praises of our Enemy. Before long they will not dare to do anything uncivilized or risk losing their respectability.”
“Yes,” agreed Satan. “Go and do as you have said.”