What does the first tenet mean?

The first of the Seven Tenets is:

Tenet 1: One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.

As with all of the tenets, the first tenet is not a “commandment” nor is it rule to be forced on other people. The tenets are fundamental ethical principles that we strive to embody in our own thoughts and actions. Satanists interpret and apply the tenets differently. It is fundamentally unsatanic to use any tenet either to rationalize a decision or to try to coerce or manipulate the behaviors of others. For more general discussion of the Seven Tenets and their role in the religious beliefs of The Satanic Temple, see: What are the seven tenets?

The application of Tenet I to real-world situations can be incredibly complex, and very personal. Applying the First Tenet almost always requires looking at it in relation to other tenets. Some examples of questions you may need to confront when figuring out how to live your life in accordance with the First Tenet include:

  • What do you do when an act of compassion toward one person or group could cause harm to others?
  • How do you factor in compassion for yourself?
  • What does it mean to have empathy for someone who hurts people or denies their rights?
  • When does empathy make it more difficult to act in a way that is truly compassionate?
  • Is the phrase “in accordance with reason” a warning that empathy and compassion alone can lead to harm and horrific injustice?
  • How do you handle it when someone refuses your compassion?
  • Does your empathy for others take priority over your own comfort? Does it take priority over your health? Your safety?

The fact that Tenet 1 can be interpreted and applied in so many different ways illustrates an important principle of the Seven Tenets: you use them to inspire and guide yourself, you do not impose them on others. The First Tenet may inspire you to be vegan. It may inspire you to be an anti-hunting activist. It may inspire you to be against pet ownership. But the First Tenet does not demand any of these things.


These are some services from the Satanic Ministry Archives that specifically explore topics related to Tenet 1:

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