Sunday, August 10, 2014

My First Sermon: "In Praise of Idolatry"

This sermon was preached on August 10, 2014 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans.

The Bible says “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved 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, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” (Exodus)

In fact, as far as I know the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – are the only ones that forbid the creation and worship of idols. We find many “idols” in other religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, African religions, Native American religions, et cetera.

I don't know about you, but I was brought up to believe that all those other religions were false. My parents didn't make a big deal about religion – they didn't go to church – but I didn't get any education about world religions either. And the information I picked up from the people around me was that you only had two religious options: you could be a Christian or an atheist. That's it.

Now many of us here are aware that there are other options. In this sermon I'd like to go back and re-examine some of the things that the Bible says about idolatry and the worship of “other gods.” I'd like to suggest that maybe idols are not exactly what the Bible says they are. And that other gods can be acceptable too.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of idol is “a representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly: a false god.” Who gets to decide which gods are true and which gods are false? Idolatry means the worship of idols. idolatry is defined as “the worship of a picture or object as a god.”