Statues, Graven Images, and the Sin of Idolatry
God condemns the sin of idolatry, whether it is in the form of worshipping statues, or money, or sex, or a new car, or any other created thing that can become an idol. In Exodus 20, the Lord forbids the carving of images to worship. That is, he forbids carving them to worship them, not just the fact of carving them.
When we look at the passages in the Bible, we can see that Catholics and Orthodox are not wrong to make use of religious images and statues, so long as they are used to assist us in directing our minds towards God and heavenly things. Much the same way as we keep pictures of our family and loved ones as a way to remind us of them, we also keep statues and images in our homes and churches as a way to help remind us of our Lord and the great men and women of our faith: the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints, and the angels.
Exodus 20:3-5: You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.
1 Corinthians 10:14: Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say.
These verses below show that God does permit the use of religious statues and images, as long as we avoid idolatry: in some of them, God commands the people to make images!
1 Kings 7:23-29
1 Kings 6:23-28
And remember that Christ himself is called an "image" of the living God by St. Paul in Colossians 1:15.
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Show me that in the Bible copyright © 2004 Fr. Francis Jamieson. Image courtesy Sacred Heart Parish