Idolatry is not something we think much about in our modern day, Western culture. I grew up in church, reading the Bible, knowing how offensive idolatry was to God – feeling super smug and secure because I didn’t commit sins like THAT! What could possibly be tempting about bowing down to a statue and serving it and praying to it as if it could hear or help me one iota?
I was SO thankful I wasn’t a big sinner like THOSE people.
Then, 5 years ago or so, God opened my eyes to the idolatry, pride, rebellion, unforgiveness and sin in my life.
Turns out, I was committing idolatry every waking moment of every single day since I was little. I just didn’t know it.
WHAT IS AN IDOL?
- anything that we cherish more than Christ in our hearts.
- anything that we believe we MUST HAVE to be happy – that isn’t Christ.
- something other than God that I use to get my identity from – or the thing/person/concept from which I try to find my fulfillment.
- something I spend a great deal of time investing in, focusing on, relying on and putting all my trust in – that is not Christ.
- something I am willing to give up my family or relationships for, maybe I am willing to spend almost any amount of money to serve that person/thing/idea. I will serve my idol no matter what it costs me.
- I will try to find my contentment in my idol. But it will never satisfy – I am always left empty, broken and wanting more.
- it is often the opposite of what I fear most.
IDOLATRY IS HUGE SIN!
God will never allow me to find contentment in an idol.
He will only allow me to find contentment in Christ Jesus.
Idolatry is breaking the first commandment in Exodus 20 “You shall have no other gods before me” as well as the greatest command Jesus talks about “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37
To Him, it is me breaking my covenant with Him – like I am committing adultery against Him by serving/worshipping/putting my faith in these other things. God alone deserves my worship, praise, adoration, giving, devotion and sacrifice. He will not share His glory with another.
As Wes Church, one of our ministers, says, “The human heart is an idol factory.” We have to CONSTANTLY guard our hearts against putting things above God. I must always check my true motives throughout every day! And I will have to continue to do that for the rest of my life! We can make almost anything – even good things, even things that are gifts from God – into idols.
HOW CAN I POSSIBLY MAKE MY MAN INTO AN IDOL? THAT SOUNDS LUDICROUS, RIGHT?!
There are so many ways! And sadly, we almost NEVER realize what we are doing. If I miss a way, please let me know! Some of these things are difficult to separate out. It is very possible to have more than one idol at a time. I would say I had myself, being in control, feeling loved and my husband as idols – among many other things at various times. Having idols destroys my fellowship with God and grieves God’s heart – and making my man an idol will always destroy my relationship with my guy, too. Idolizing a guy is a recipe for disaster.
1. I EXPECT HIM TO BE CHRIST TO ME –
In this case, I don’t just expect my guy to represent Christ and portray a picture of Christ to me (as described in Ephesians 5:22-33) but to actually BE Christ. I put all my trust and hope in my man instead of Jesus Christ.
I am continually disappointed, depressed and upset with him because “he is not meeting all my needs properly” – meaning – he is not being who and what I want him to be so that I have everything I want in my life. I am insatiable. I am a pit of neediness. No matter what he does, it is not enough. I want more. I am angry at him all the time. He can never measure up to my standards. He never feels like he can be “good enough” for me. And he truly can’t. I want perfection at a minimum, and my sinful man definitely can’t deliver.
2. I EXPECT TO FEEL LOVED BY HIM ALL THE TIME – This idolatry involves my guy because I expect him to be the one making me feel loved. But I could argue that it is my feeling of being loved that might be the actual idol here. I don’t take responsibility for my own emotions and my own spiritual development and growth. I make my man 100% responsible for my feelings. This is dysfunctional and destructive.
Healthy boundaries say I am responsible for my feelings, my guy is responsible for his feelings. Mature love says, “I will obey God about how to treat my man even though I don’t ‘feel loved’ right now.” Obedience to God’s Word comes first, feelings may come later. But whether I feel loved or not at the moment, I am still responsible to obey God’s Word for me in how I treat my guy, God and others.
3. I EXPECT HIM TO NEVER SIN AGAINST ME – If my guy ever stumbles, hurts me or falls into temptation – that is unacceptable when I idolize him in this way. I have zero grace or mercy for him. He must be perfect. Many women actually expect their men to be completely perfect and sinless even in their thoughts 24/7. I expect him to actually BE Christ to me and put him in God’s rightful place in my heart.
It’s ok for me to sin and he better forgive me. I think my sins aren’t as bad as his are. If he sins, I look down on him because I believe I am morally superior to him. I think, “I would NEVER sin the way he does.” Then I indulge in self-righteousness – thinking I am so much better than my man. I don’t see my own sin clearly. I am too busy pointing at his sins or trying to control him to prevent him from sinning to notice that I have a mountain of my own sin God wants me to look at and repent of.
The truth is – we are ALL wretched sinners. God commands us to only marry other believers in Christ. So it is important to choose a guy who loves Jesus with all his heart. But romantic relationships expose our sin (marriage exposes even more of our sinfulness) – and gives us the chance to see how much we need the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Christ. It also gives us plenty of opportunities to learn to forgive and show mercy and grace!
If I treat my man like he must be perfect, he will eventually stop trying because he will see it is impossible – he may even say things like, “You wouldn’t be happy even if you were married to Jesus Himself!” And he is probably right!
4. I EXPECT HIM TO BE COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE FOR MY HAPPINESS – If I am not happy, it is his fault. He better fix it. This is similar to #2. Spiritually and emotionally whole people recognize that we are each responsible for our own happiness, our own relationship with Christ, our own feelings, our own needs, our own desires, our own sin and our own obedience to Christ. If I stick my guy with “making me happy” – we are both doomed to misery! He can’t make me happy. I am the only one who can find joy for myself – and it is only found in Christ! I must put Christ first, then I will have joy no matter what my man does or does not do.
A man may attempt to make me happy for awhile in this situation – but eventually, he will realize it is pointless and impossible to make me happy and he will give up.
5. I DECIDE I MUST HAVE HIM TO BE HAPPY – If my man leaves me – I think my life will be over. I am not content in Christ alone. I HAVE to have my boyfriend/fiance/husband with me. If he sins against me, or wants to leave, I will do anything to keep him, even if I have to sin to try to make him stay.
I tell God that my man cannot die before me. I freak out if he is late a few minutes, worrying to death that he is dead. I decide that if my guy dies, I will not trust God anymore. My love for God is conditional upon my man loving me, being with me and being alive.
This kind of desperation and clinginess will smother a man.
6. I DECIDE I MUST HAVE A BOYFRIEND/HAVE A WEDDING/GET MARRIED/HAVE CHILDREN TO BE HAPPY – In this type of idolatry, I am not idolizing my particular man per se. But I am using him to try to get my idol. I am not actually in love with my particular guy – I am smitten with the idea of being in a committed relationship, or weddings, or being married, or having children. I just want any guy to fill that role so I can have what I really want. This makes a guy feel VERY disrespected, unloved, unwanted, unimportant and it is a HUGE turn off, as it should be. In this scenario, I am using my guy, not loving and respecting him for who he is as a man.
7. HE MAY TRY TO MAKE ME PUT HIM AS AN IDOL IN MY HEART –
Sometimes, it is not the woman who is controlling, but the guy. It is entirely possible that some men may expect their women to go way beyond respect and biblical submission to literally idolize them. THIS IS VERY WRONG!
God DOES give our husbands to us once we are married as God-given authorities to provide for us, protect us, lead us, guide us, love us with humility and grace, to demonstrate the love of Christ to us and to represent Christ to us.
There is a VERY big difference between a guy seeking to represent Christ to his girlfriend/fiance and a man trying to replace Christ or BE Christ in her life.
Christ is the only mediator we need between us and God. We don’t need a high priest or anyone else to fill in to bridge the gap. We as women have total access to Jesus and to God through the blood of Jesus, just as men do.
Sometimes idolatry can be forced upon us. That is not ok!
The Old Testament is full of stories of pagan kings who tried to force God’s people to worship them or their idols. God was not pleased! Idolatry is always sin – whether I initiate it and willfully put something else before God in His rightful place of worship in my heart – or whether someone tries to force me to “worship” them or something else and I give in to them. There is no greater sin than breaking the first commandment.