Tobit-Burning Fish Liver Before Sex Keeps Demons Away

Tobit 8:1-3

Sarah’s parents bring Tobias to the bridal chambers where the two are expected to consecrate their marriage. There is still on outstanding issue, though. Sarah is haunted by the demon, Asmodeus. So, Tobias follows Raphael’s instructions by burning the fish liver with the other incense. The foul smell drives the demon away only for Raphael to bind him. We have already seen how this would have actually dishonored God (6:1b-9). God was so powerless and Raphael (God’s angel) so ineffective that Tobias had to accomplish the expulsion of the demon by mystic means. Again, we see that Tobit presents doctrine that is contrary to Scripture and why mystic arts, or mere religious ritual generally, mocks God’s sovereignty, providence, and working together of all things. Tobit reveals the absurdity. Even though Tobias is performing a mystic exorcism, it is the smell that Asmodeus can’t stand and flees from. Even when we try to ascribe power to mystic means, we still try to explain that power using naturalistic explanations because we are hard-wired to strive for understanding. So, mystic arts, magics, and every religious ritual performed for gain is not only contrary to Scripture but to God’s natural world—which He created the way He did with purpose.

It follows, then, that religion (when practiced rightly and not centered on meaningless or self-interested ritual) science, and philosophy (our striving to understand things) are good and proper bedfellows. There can be no coherent form of Mystic Judaism or Mystic Christianity because it mocks God when we assume to have and exercise the providential power that belongs to Him alone. In fact, it is even incoherent to base any religion on ritual or human performance and also claim that God is sovereign. There are many people who try to mix Christianity with whatever other worldviews they hold to. I have seen Hindus who try to add Jesus to their pantheon of gods and goddesses. I have seen people say both that Jesus is Lord and that they can somehow claim some kind of power for themselves by witchcraft, ritual, or keeping the Law. There are contradictions everywhere. Either Jesus is Lord or not. Either God is sovereign or not. When one confesses Jesus as Lord, he or she forsakes all the things by which he tries to seize control of his own life. If Christ is not truly recognized and confessed as Lord, eternal life is not gained because Christ is not truly believed in—we have placed our trust in self and in means that seem advantageous to us even though they will let us down. Tobit is fiction. Demons aren’t really repelled by fish liver or salt or sage or mistletoe or Latin rituals.

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