American Idolatry

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By Dr. Douglas F. Levesque, Founder of The Levesque Institute

Idolatry, in the sense of setting up a golden calf and dancing around it, is not a predominant ideal in American culture; however, the fact that an overwhelming majority of American households own and regularly watch a television (sometimes multiple), even dedicating an entire room of their home to, it seems to parallel the notion.

Most homes have their furniture directed around the TV the way a church’s pews surround and face the pulpit.  An earlier citizen of the 20th century might wonder what everyone was worshipping or rather who was being worshipped.  Is it any wonder that one of this nation’s most watched programs today is called “American Idol”?  Moses recorded God’s spoken words thusly, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3).  Idolatry may look a little different today but its dangerous effects and end results are still the same.

Idols as Saviors

Empires past have used their idols as platforms of national unity and identity.  In victory, gods of stone or gold have received gratitude and glory from both people and state.  In difficulties, those same lifeless items were looked to for healing and salvation.  The fall of Egypt, Babylon, Persia,

Greece, Rome, and other majesties past was, at least in part, the result of unsuccessfully relying upon these false messiahs.  Unfortunately, their fascination with Pharaoh and Caesar worship is not unlike our own preoccupation with ‘the stars’.  Today the most popular songwriters, performers, athletes, and actors make broad political condemnations, back their candidates of choice, donate or raise money for pet causes, and yet hardly make a dent in solving real problems of the American landscape.  They do not save victims of crime, soldiers from IED’s, debtors from collectors, or spouses from divorce.  Few quote the Bible or give it a nod, but are rather ignorant of its solutions to societal ills.  Many of these icons of culture are the very corrupting force within it.  On the other hand, the Bible was a chief formulating force of the important concepts of liberty of conscience, speech, press, and assembly.  President Ronald Reagan once said, “Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.”  Even Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners have not managed to stave off hunger, war, or disease.  The statues of antiquity along with our idols just do no make worthy saviors. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (I Timothy 2:5).

A Modern day “Casting Down”

The high places and groves of historic idol worship have been replaced by satellites and internet chat rooms.  The conflict remains a spiritual one.  The Apostle Paul writes:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringeth into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;  And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” (II Corinthians 10:3-6)

While Bible believers may not be able to stave off certain popularities among an increasingly diverse and debauched moral climate, we do have a Biblical model of countering idols in any form:

Prayer.  Like the examples in Scripture, personal and even corporate expressions of repentance are needed.  We must acknowledge what it is we need – a reversal of idolatrous tendencies in our lives.

Personal Reform.  An honest evaluation of how idolatrous practices have entered our own sphere will be a painful exercise, but profitable in the end.

Public Denouncement.  Teaching, writing, and speaking out against blatant corrupting influences is not to be relegated to just a few.

Appealing to Leadership.  Pertinent and timely instruction to our elected officials regarding the Bibles cultural benefits is worth the time and effort that a pastor might put into a sermon.  These lessons can be conveyed via impassioned pleas, stern warnings, didactic reports, and even letters of gratitude to hearing authorities.

Organized Boycott.

The bottom line to much of the entertainment industry is money.  There are certain noticeable sponsors of the more heinous forms of idolatry that knowingly and willingly endorse and identify with the gods of this world.  These entities may be conscientiously boycotted.

Ancient Landmarks Remembered

The Bible should be the centerpiece of our homes and of our national conscience, not the questionable antics of sensual women and vulgar men.  The Mayflower men and women would weep over the vileness of today.  The framers of American government did not have today’s sexual free-for-all in mind.  The soldiers of our own civil war would roll over in their graves if they could.  Even the early pioneers of broadcasting would be shamed at our current hedonism.  The wisdom of Solomon cries out to modernity, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28).

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