Idolatry - what is it and who does it?
What is idolatry?
This is when you worship something other than God and put it before God in your life.
What types of idolatry are there?
Two types: Practical idolatry and Formal Idolatry
Formal Idolatry is when you worship a human being or a mythical god. People into these types of worship can focus on a statue believing that the god they worship comes and dwells in the statue.
Practical Idolatry is when you put money or material things in a position of greater importance than God.
Is Idolatry a sin?
If you know about the existence of God and choose to worship something other than God, yes, it can be a sin. More important is it's not a good idea but then, is sin ever a good idea?
Do many people commit the sin of idolatry?
Catholics have statues in their churches but do not feel that the personages represented by the statues come and dwell in the statue. In truth the statues are there because we don't have photos of most of the saints and/or the Blessed Mother and being visual, it's nice to have some kind of photo or representation - just like it's nice to have a photo of a penpal - easier to write to a person if you can picture what they look like. Notice you will never see a photo, painting or statue of God the Father. This is because we have been forbidden to make representations of God the Father. Statues of Jesus are fair game because Jesus is all man and all God. We therefore can make a statue of Jesus the Man which reminds us of Jesus as God also. (There are a few paintings which picture God the father as a man like those of Michaelangelo - these are purposely not trying to picture God as He really looks like, but rather a symbolical representation of God as a man (when in fact we know He's not a man at all) to tell a story in the picture such as God created, God reaches out to us etc).
Few if any Catholics commit formal idolatry.
Many Catholics do commit practical idolatry. That is, they put money, education and work as being more important than God.
How do I know if I am committing practical idolatry?
These statements might mean that God may not be first in your life:
"I can't attend church on Sunday because I have to work all weekend."
"I can't afford to give much to the church as we are buying a house."
"If I play music in church or sing in church, I'd better get a paycheck for it."
"I don't have time for church or God right now. Too busy"
"I don't have time to pray all day - I have too much work to do."
Practical idolatry is one of the best ways of easing God out of your life and it can be a sneaky process.
Is having a "graven image" (a statue) committing idolatry?
A photograph is also a graven image so is having a photo of granddad on the wall, idolatry? No, of course not. As mentioned before, it's nice to know what someone you are thinking about, looks like.
Is the Catholic devotion to Jesus' Mother, idolatry?
Catholics do not 'worship' Mary. They admire her because she was chosen by Jesus to be His Mother. Mary is a human being but she is a model for us because she said "YES" when God asked her to do something Great and Wonderful for Him. When we pray things like the Rosary, we are not praying TO Mary, we are praying to God but Mary is our prayer partner. (You know how prayer is always easier if you are praying with someone else).
Are Catholics committing idolatry when they pray to saints?
No, because when we pray to saints, we are actually contacting them THROUGH God. It's kind of like writing email. When we write email to the person, we request the internet to deliver our email to the person we are writing to. God is the Divine Internet, delivering our messages to those saints who now dwell with Him in Heaven.
Why would a person worship 'other gods' other than the One and Only God of the Bible, Our Creator?
Any kind of idolatry, formal - other gods - or things like money, promise humans, power and knowledge. They hint that a human with the aid of these things can be a sort of god himself/herself. Pagan 'deities' offer humans power to manipulate their lives through magic and spells and rituals.
Who do you contact when you call on pagan gods?
Since pagan gods do not exist, the calls of humans to this type of deity is probably answered by a satanic angel. A satanic angel can use human power to do things and make someone "feel" powerful but satan is out to destroy, so this "power" humans might feel a bit of, is only THEIR OWN POWER and then, is more like a carrot held out, to lead them away from the Glorious Future God has prepared for them in Heaven.
Money and fame is disappointing and does not deliver what it seemed to promise. One only need to look at how many top stars commit suicide, either the quick way with a gun or drug overdose or slowly by poisoning themselves with drugs and alcohol.
Humans were not meant to be Gods. We were meant to be humans. If we move in the orbit of God's Perfect Plan, called Divine Providence, this is the only proven way of being happy and fulfilled.
"If you don't have God, you have nothing. If you have God, you need nothing else."
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