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  • Icon, Not Idol

    We need to beware
    lest we treat
    what can be an Icon
    as an Idol.

    There is no more wonderful sight on the face of God’s green earth than the face and form of a beautiful woman, with the same being said of a man to a lesser degree (speaking as a man). Just seeing the splendor of this beauty inspires and lifts one’s spirits. Some, because of the elevation of mood and spirit which they feel when they see God’s handiwork in bare or covered breast and other aspects of female splendor have gone beyond enjoyment and admiration to adoration and idolatry. They refer to “the feminine divine” and use many other spiritual terms to describe just how wonderful and sublime they feel her beauty to be. But in so doing they err. St. Paul talked about those who worship and serve the creature more than the creator.

    First, He clearly says that creation reveals the truth about God.

    Romans 1.20.

    But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:18-20 NLT

    Then He makes it clear that we can go too far.

    Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. Romans 1:21 - 24 NLT

    Today few make actual wood or stone idols. Instead we sometimes make the human body, and the pleasure it can experience, an idol in itself.

    Just tell someone that living for God means that some forms of sexual expression and experience are forbidden. You will soon see a manifestion of sexual idolatry.

    Romans 1.25.

    So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. Romans 1:25 NLT

    It is true that the Bible says that one expression of this idolatry is homosexuality.

    That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Romans 1:26 - 27 NLT

    But for most of us this idolatry does not find a same-sex expression. For most it is in elevating sexual pleasure above its proper place in our lives. And while women are to be loved, respected, and enjoyed, they are not to be placed on a pinnacle as an actual object of worship, no matter how much of the glory of God we see in their naked beauty.

    Yes, they are wonderful to behold, and enjoying the very sight of them can stir our passions and enable us to more easily enjoy sexual stimulation and that most powerful of pleasures, an orgasm. These too are gifts from God that we associate with the more gentle sex. But we need to beware lest we treat what can be an Icon as an Idol.

    Worship Creator, not the Created

    As Christians we do not worship anything created. To do so is idolatry. Women, no matter how delightful, are not divine. Yes, they are made by God’s own hand, but no matter how beautiful they are not “goddesses!”

    An icon
    is an image
    of a created thing,
    and that image
    points us to our Creator.

    But they can be an Icon, and for many of us they are. An icon is an image of a created thing, and that image points us to our Creator. So we can look at the beauty of a woman and not say “she is divine” but instead let her beauty inspire us to worship the amazing God who created a creature of such great magnificence. Idolators worship the image or object itself; we look at the image of an object and are inspired to worship God who made the object.

    For sure when your hand is gently cupping or caressing your beloved bride’s breast that can feel divine. And yes, the moment in lovemaking when you and your spouse become one flesh can feel like a time of sublime spiritual bliss, but neither the person nor the act are “god” or anything like God. She was made by God, and lovemaking was given to us by God for both pleasure and procreation. And the enjoyment of both should inspire and direct our hearts, minds, and spirits toward Him, and Him alone.



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