Friday, September 15, 2006

Deadly Idolatry

No you haven't stumbled onto a naughty blog. The picture to the left is of a model, and it is also a picture of an idol ~ a very dangerous idol. In our day, Baal is forgotten, Zeus is a mere myth, and meat is offered nowhere to any strange deities (except, possibly, for feeding Michael Jackson). Our idols are, however, just has potent and just as powerful as those facing God's people in the Bible. These idols kill, make people miserable, and distract them away from spiritual truth and a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Let's look at two such idols, which I will name "Emaciatia" and "Fenway."

"Emaciata" is the goddess of fashion and body image. She insists all women look like the women in the photo, which is to say emaciated. Is the woman in the photo beautiful? To some perhaps, but to me she looks like she just spent time in either a concentration camp or an East African food cooperative. She looks like a sexless broom. The problem is that literally hundreds of millions of girls and women hold this up as an ideal, an idol to emulate and worship as the symbol of beauty. Do you know what the symbol for female beauty was in the ancient world ~ chubby. Fat meant health. It meant you had something to eat. Every day women young and old are dying of eating disorders, or feel miserable about themselves because they don't look like "Emaciata." This affects women spiritually as well. Obsessing over weight, dieting, and starving themselves takes time away from worship and prayer. It is narcissism in the extreme. Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear" (Matthew 6:25). The idol of vanity is poison to a life in the Spirit, and the opposite of loving and caring for others (agape).

Now I haven't forgotten the men. The idol I call "Fenway," is the obsession with sports. Soccer for the kids, followed by twenty hours on the couch watching college football, baseball, and the most powerful of the present false gods - the NFL. The reason I call this idol "Fenway" is because up until recently, the fans of the Boston Red Sox baseball team were known to suffer enormously over their team's feckless pursuit of a World Series championship. People even suffered emotional and psychological damage over the issue. Say the name "Buckner" to one such fan (short for fanatic), and it would induce a wave of despair. Such sport obsession has its physical and spiritual consequences. Men become obese, snacking for hours in front of the television. They ignore Sunday worship, and while they can repeat endless statistics to you, they couldn't find Deuteronomy with a map. In the immortal words of the dean of Faber College, "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life." It is a replacement for God, and risks the spiritual peril of ignoring one's salvation.

The Apostle John ends his first epistle with this warning: "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols."


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