Thursday, November 6, 2014

Idolatry: Hidden but not Harmless

Possibly the most pervasive and dangerous sin in today's world is idolatry. Other sins may be bolder, more in our faces, more glamorous, but it is idolatry that saps the majority of our spiritual strength away right from the heart. If you think yourself immune, then you, more than anyone else, need to read on.

The primary pitfall of idolatry is how easily it slips our notice. Of all of our sins, it is the one we are most likely to justify: to consider to be simply a priority or a preference and not the paramount spiritual danger which it is. We make excuses for the worldly things that eclipse God in our devotion, seeing nothing wrong at all with the way we push Him to the sidelines.

photo credit: Bert Kaufmann All photos via photopin cc
Take a look at Islam. Of all the world's religions, Islam takes, by far, the harshest stance against idolatry. Images of the human form, even purely artistic ones are banned for fear that they will become idols. In the more serious Islamic states, the shrines of other religions are mostly not permitted. If they are, they may be converted to Islamic use, or simply forced to decay. Whatever things one might wish to charge Muslims with, surely idolatry cannot be among them?

And yet, look at the way they treat Muhammad. The way he brushes his teeth, the way he styled his hair, even the way the man pooped are the focus of painstaking emulation by over a billion people! Do you know the manner in which Jesus pooped? I sure don't, nor do I particularly care. And yet, while Islamic theology insists that Muhammad is just a man,Christian theology says that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God,"God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father"!  That is one serious disconnect!

It is the things we love most that can be the  most danger. As Jesus says in Luke 14:26, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." Christ wants our entirety, and how seldom do we give it to him (I, myself being the worst of offenders here).

photo credit: Thiophene_Guy
Being a socio-sexual gamma brought me an additional very powerful risk factor. The "pedestal", the constructed idealization of some desired woman or women, is very much an idol, a constructed thing into which gammas such as I pour our hopes and desires. We might attempt to excuse ourselves by claiming it is love, but it is not love. Love aims at a real person, that person is its object (in the grammatical sense, not in an "objectifying" sense).

With pedestalization, the actual woman which our construct has been placed upon is merely notional ("objectified"), and our desire itself becomes the true object, feeding endlessly upon itself. As this notion grows, it, and not God, becomes our hope for the satiation of our spirit. But like idols of wood or stone, it is not alive, it cannot satisfy. Only God can truly fill the hole within us.

photo credit: pasotraspaso
But not all are gammas, and not all have the same desires between them and union with the Holy One. What is your dark desire, the thing that you place before God? Be honest with yourself, what do you think it will gain you? Your task for today is to figure that out, and to take a good hard look at whether it can really stand in for God, or whether it is a falsehood to be thrown away with the blue pill on the path to a truer understanding of life.

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