You shall have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:1-9 (NRSV; http://www.biblestudytools.com; online available 9/18/20)

1 Then God spoke all these words:

2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;

3 you shall have no other gods before me.

4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,

6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Psalm 24 (NRSV; http://www.biblestudytools.com; online available 9/18/20) 1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. 3 Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. 5 They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. 7 Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory.


"You shall have no other God before me." Most Jews and Christians, at least, would agree, and believe that we have no other God. And while I don't believe very many people have golden calves in their homes, and if they have statues of naked women they call them art, not idols, I think we need to look very carefully about what our idols really are.


Last week Attorney General William Barr spoke at a celebration of the Constitution at Hillsdale College. In response to a question about the constitutionality of "forbidding a church from meeting during Covid 19," Barr responded with a comment about how the lockdowns are the greatest "intrusion" on civil liberties since slavery. (Easley, 9/16/20)


I think enough people have and continue to speak out against the appalling nature of the comment about slavery, and I support every one of them.


But I want to talk about the idolatry in the question and the answer. If you think that asking churches not to gather in person during a pandemic impinges on your first amendment rights (freedom of religion), then you, my friend, may have a problem with idolatry. If the only way you can practice your religion is in the building with the cross and the steeple and the stained glass windows, then you are worshipping the church, not God. We are all missing our friends and communities, but the Constitution doesn't grant us the right to see people.


If you are so concerned about your rights under the Constitution to worship freely in a large group of people, or to carry guns, or whatever else, then you, my friend, have a problem with idolatry. You are idolizing the Constitution.


If your second amendment rights to bear arms mean that your right to own an assault rifle exceeds my right to exist, then you, my friend, are idolizing guns.


If you despise some of God's beloved children because there is something in the Bible that tells you too, the Bible itself has become an idol to you.


If you think respect for the flag or national anthem is more important that an athlete using his public platform to protest injustice, you are idolizing symbols of patriotism.


If the only issue you are interested in voting on is pro-life, and you disregard everything else, then abortion has become an idol to you. If you claim to be pro-life but object to mask wearing, support underfunding education, don't care about the water and air quality that people in poor neighborhoods are forced to consume, and all the other things that are vital to a satisfactory and healthy life, then abortion is an idol to you. If you overlook abuse of women, lies, and other forms of corruption to get a conservative pro-life judge on the bench, you are idolizing abortion, even as you oppose it.


If you will do whatever it takes to maintain dominion over women, people of color, immigrants, the poor, the other side of the aisle, the Supreme Court ... then you are idolizing power.


If you believe that you are the ONLY person who can do something, that you are indispensable to your workplace, family, neighborhood, committee - your ego is your idol.


We all have them. Some are the result of a lifetime of indoctrination, and some mask deep pain. We all need to work to recognize them because our idols are much more insidious than golden calves. We all need to turn our attention, once again, to God. It isn't easy. But God demands it.




Constitution. https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/c_crop,h_2576,w_3829,x_18,y_0/v1554745321/shape/mentalfloss/553604-istock-518899548.jpg?itok=2DTpq1TP


Easley, Jason. "Barr Shows His True Colors By Comparing Lockdowns to Slavery." PoliticusUSA. 9/16/2020. https://www.politicususa.com/2020/09/16/barr-lockdowns-slavery.html. Online, available 9/22/2020


Flag. https://blog.metrostorage.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/FlagDay.jpg


Golden calf. https://um-insight.net/downloads/3224/download/colette-golden-calf.jpg?cb=236befbd0f3ead1ac839d2136ebbf746


Gun. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/SIG_Pro_by_Augustas_Didzgalvis.jpg


Gutenberg Bible. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b6/Gutenberg_Bible%2C_Lenox_Copy%2C_New_York_Public_Library%2C_2009._Pic_01.jpg/1280px-Gutenberg_Bible%2C_Lenox_Copy%2C_New_York_Public_Library%2C_2009._Pic_01.jpg


Steeple. https://churchsteeples.com/content/uploads/2016/04/steeple-options.jpg










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