Return to Content
Read Our Devotional
Opportunities to be Published
The Home for Christian Writers! Matthew 6:33
ENCOURAGE AUTHOR BY COMMENTING
Add to Favorites
Art Idolatry and God's Glory
Author requests article critique
Yesterday, my wife Imelda and I were having some late-night talks on "art and idolatry." It's an interesting topic. Many years ago, as a baby Christian, I hated "idolatry" so much that I destroyed some art works in our house. That got me and my testimony into trouble with my parents and siblings!
Idolatry, in Christian theology, is "the worship of a created object" rather than the true God. The term "idol" often refers to tangible objects that are worshipped, such as the golden calf in Moses' time. It may also refer to conceptual constructs such as fame, money, nationality, ethnicity or people's emotional understanding.
Throughout the years, the arts have always received much attention. Michaelangelo became famous with his representational and symbolic paintings of the Christ and other religious figures. Just recently, Mel Gibson released his highly acclaimed artistic film, "The Passion of Christ." That caused quite a stir all over the world.
Should we appreciate, support, or encourage participation in the arts as followers of Christ?
The Word of God gives us clear guidance about this matter. In the second commandment God said:
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that
is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water
under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them, for I the LORD
your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the
children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing
mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:4–
What does God forbid in this commandment?
Can we stop at verse 4, as some have done, and condemn the fashioning of all images? Obviously not. I say this because God Himself had the cherubim carved at the ends of the mercy seat on the Ark (a likeness of something in heaven above).
The force of the commandment is in verse 5. We are not to bow down to idols or serve them. God reveals that He cannot and will not be worshipped through carved images. He is Spirit and will not be represented by physical shapes. God will not allow His people to direct their love and trust for Him to some lifeless creation of men’s hands.
In Exodus 32 Israel violated God’s Law by breaking this commandment. They fashioned a carved image of a golden calf to represent God in their worship. In 1 Samuel 4 they committed a similar sin, trusting in the presence of the Ark (which they could see with their eyes) rather than God Himself (whom they could only see by faith).
They fell into sin because they were not content to follow and worship a God they could not see or touch. God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). Israel rejected the spiritual nature of God and sought through art to give Him a physical shape or image.
Where art turns its back on God, it should be abandoned. Where art is used as a means to distract people away from those things that are pleasing to God, it should be forsaken. We must embrace art only as it serves to help us embrace God.
At the same time, we must also remember that art is created by God. Art is a good gift from God, intended for us to enjoy as we use it in ways that bring God glory.
I think a problem of discernment can develop when art becomes the occasion for sin. We can be too quick to condemn "the gift rather than the sin." We may begin to condemn a painting, a photo or image, a sculpture, or a song as evil. But the question is, "Can the painting on a canvas, or a lump of clay, or photographs/images, or musical sounds actually be sin?"
Consider the incident of the golden calf in Exodus 32. This event obviously involved sin and shows us the potential for sin in art. But where was the sin located? Was the subject matter, the "golden calf," sinful? No. A calf is something God created as good.
Is the medium used sinful? No. Gold and other precious metals are also created by God as good. Is the making of a carved image (creating representational sculpture) sin? No. God commanded much representational sculpture be made, even in the Tabernacle and Temple where He was to be worshipped.
The object of art itself is not necessarily evil. Nor is the making of art evil. When art goes astray and becomes an occasion for sin, the problem is not so much with the subject matter or artistic form. The real problem is with our hearts. The sin is in us.
We have a tendency, however, to disassociate sin with ourselves. It is much easier to locate the evil in the image or object. We can smash the image and be done with it. But that will not remove the sin. Sin is not a matter of objects or things. Sin is a matter of the heart that becomes manifest in how we use or misuse objects and things. Art is not sin. But it can readily reflect and give expression to sin in our hearts.
God looks upon our hearts, not exclusively at the forms of an object. He weighs the intentions of our heart in judging good or evil. What are we trying to reveal about the art form? What meanings are we trying to convey? Is our meaning trying to communicate godly values and truths? God looks upon our hearts as we participate in the arts. What are our intentions and motives and loves revealed in the art in which we choose to invest our time and energy?
When I, as a young Christian many years ago, smashed those art forms in our family home, I thought they were evil and idols themselves. I had wrongly believed these objects were sin themselves. I missed God's greatest concern is located in our hearts. It was a lesson of spiritual discernment.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR BELOW
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
Reader Count & Comments
This article has been read
Read more articles by
or search for other articles by topic below.
Search for articles on: (e.g. creation; holiness etc.)
Read more by clicking on a link:
Main Site Articles
Most Read Articles
Highly Acclaimed Challenge Articles
New Release Christian Books for Free for a Simple Review
NEW - Surprise Me With an Article - Click here for a random URL
God is Not Against You - He Came on an All Out Rescue Mission to Save You
...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19
Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Acts 13:38
LEARN & TRUST JESUS HERE
The opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
FaithWriters offers Christian reading material for Christian readers. We offer Christian articles, Christian fiction, Christian non-fiction, Christian Bible studies, Christian poems, Christian articles for sale, free use Christian articles, Christian living articles, New Covenant Christian Bible Studies, Christian magazine articles and new Christian articles. We write for Jesus about God, the Bible, salvation, prayer and the word of God.
Link To Us
Become A Member