Thursday, May 20, 2010

Casting Idols...

(photo from
(Warning: May be offensive to most. I'm not going to post this one on the church's facebook page)

Eric Church has a song out now called "Love your love the most." It's a pretty good song if you're into country music...which I am. In it he talks about all the stuff he loves. "I love sleeping in on Saturdays. I love college football games. I love not acting my age and good barbeque. Yeah, I'm a fan of Faulkner books and anything my mama cooks. Smallmouth bass have got me hooked on Sunday afternoon." He goes on to list a lot more stuff that he loves but ends up realizing that he loves her love the most.

It's easy to list the things we love. I love my girls. I love hiking. I love sitting on my back porch and listening to the frogs in my pond. I love the feel of the wind in my face at 60 miles an hour. I love sitting in front of the fireplace with a good book. I love to laugh and I love to get out and get a little loud every now and then (just being honest). There are a lot of things I love. But there's a problem. When I put those things in a place of more importance than my faith, I'm casting idols.

It happens. It happens to folks with the best intentions. It happens in our homes, and it most definitely happens in our churches. Most churches have a lot of idols...the building is usually the primary one, followed by traditions, programs, and anything that has a little brass plaque on it. The flowers can't be moved because grandma donated them 50 years ago. We can't change things because we've always done it this way. You see what I'm saying.

I have actually been dreading today. I knew it was coming, but I have been dreading it. Today's reading is from Romans 1. Romans 1 is one of those chapters that I wish had been left out. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of good stuff in it, but I wish it had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle over the centuries. It is probably the most misunderstood and misused collection of verses in the entire bible. fundamentalist friends should stop reading here.
I admit that I have become much more liberal in my theology recently. I blame seminary for that, for the most part, because I went to a fairly liberal seminary. My conservative roots are probably still there but I have learned to discern what I should be conservative over and what I can think a little more freely about. Romans 1 is one of those.

This is one of those hot button topics in the church and I have intentionally steered away from it until now, but I've spent 2 or 3 days talking about the temple, so here goes. You can stop reading here and not hurt my feelings.

Here is the most often quoted section of Romans 1: "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another." And then Paul goes on to describe what that looked like.

Here's the kicker. Romans 1 is probably the most quoted passage of scripture for those condemning homosexuality. But...there is one word in that verse that tips me off to the fact that there is something else going on..."Therefore." Therefore God gave them over. To me that means that something happened, before, that caused this to be a result. When I went back and started looking, the actual sin in Romans 1 was idolatry. Things that make you go "Hmmmm." It had nothing to do with the list that Paul describes after verse 24. Folks were casting idols and allowing those things to take a place of greater importance than God, therefore...God let them do whatever they wanted.

Now, I know that I will never convince some people of this and that's ok. To each his/her own. I'm just saying that if you look at what Paul actually said, if in fact this is what Paul actually said and not some redactive editing from later, the greater sin was idolatry. Who among us is not guilty of that one? It's easy to condemn folks who are different from us, but when we take a good long look in the mirror, the idols we cast may just lead to our own "therefore."

I know that for me, it's easy to allow my thoughts to be consumed by a lot of things, and when my thoughts become consumed with other things, those other things become idols. Er go, I become an idolator. There are things that I want but can never have...they become idols. There are things I enjoy doing much more than going to church...they become idols. There are things that I think about all the time, yep you guessed it, idols. And it makes me wonder...if God were to insert a "therefore" into my story, what would it look like?

Maybe this has been a little heavy for a blog, I don't know, but I knew the day would come when I would hit on this. So, there it is. You don't have to agree, but don't send me hate mail, because we are all entitled to our opinions. That's why I'm not posting this on the church's facebook page, just mine. Feel free to disagree if you would like, and please text those disagreements to BR549.


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