“For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” – 2 Peter 2:18-19 (NIV)
“Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.” – Proverbs 22:28
When Christian leaders redefine a clear scriptural commandment which prohibits sinful behavior into something that is no longer sin—a darkness that is greater than before the compromise took place begins to pervade that community. To not love our neighbor—no matter what his or her sexual orientation—is truly a great darkness. But, to remove the ancient boundary stones and legitimize that which God declares as idolatry, is an even greater darkness.
In an effort to build bridges into the lives of the hurting, many Christian leaders are removing the ancient boundary stones of truth and are redefining Scripture. They like to tell us that most Christians are Pharisees and don’t love the lost the way they should. This may be a true statement. But, when God clearly says something is an offence against His righteous standard for godly living and that He will judge the wicked who persist in sin, it does not give us permission us to remove these truths from Scripture because our culture is offended.
In Colossians 3 Paul says: “So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God)” (Colossians 3:5, AMP).
Although, this verse is not an all-inclusive list of actions and sins which describe idolatry, the Amplified version gives powerful insight into human manipulation and selfishness. We see how easy it is to elevate our sensual passions and greed above God’s standard of holiness—to stake out a place of self-imposed morality where we worship our money, sexuality and pleasures above God. This is what God calls “idolatry.” Sometimes it is difficult to take a spiritual term like idolatry and find a clear, practical definition that helps us understand the full implications of its meaning. But let us try to dig a little deeper.
We know that the Bible declares God as the Originator and Owner of all creation. Therefore, He has the right to be honored and worshipped as such. Some argue that God is egotistical in that He demands our worship. However, the Scripture is clear that God is loving, and His requiring our devotion and worship above anything else is actually what is best for us. Yes, it comes to us as a command; but it also comes to us as loving guidance as well. This love is like a father commanding his son or daughter to listen closely to him when they cross a street. He is not demanding something from his children in an egotistical restrictive way; he is requiring their obedience to protect and bless them. God requires our worship because He knows our weakness is to forget about His reality and replace Him by elevating things on this earth over Him.
As we look deeper into this word idolatry, first Samuel is very helpful. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23, KJV). Samuel—Israel’s High Priest—is rebuking King Saul for his selfish actions (he made up his own agenda and offered unholy sacrifices to keep his men from deserting him on the battlefield). This passage offers a powerful insight into the definition of idolatry. Here we see that rebellion and stubbornness are directly linked to it.
Idolatry is not just worshipping an ancestral god at a God-despising altar. It is cobbling together a personally improvised standard of rebellious living that ignores God’s clear will. King Saul cobbled together the Holy covenant sacrifice of animals on a spiritual altar with his governmental kingship to get the voice of God to speak. He did all this so that he would have the confidence to go into battle with his demoralized and diminishing army. He was not a priest and was not authorized by God to sacrifice. His role was to lead; the priest’s role was to hear. He was mixing and matching God’s will for his selfish agenda. He was improvising the perfect will of God into something unholy because of his impatience with God’s servant, the High Priest.
This account reflects our current Christian generation. We improvise the Word of God to fit our generation because we are impatient with God to truly convert the sinner. We make the standard something the sinner is comfortable with hoping he or she will accept the Gospel. But we forget that the Gospel is an “equal opportunity offender.” The Gospel offends everyone—including the Christian Pharisees, the social standard manipulators and the improvising theologians.
It is the last of these that grieves the heart of God the most. There are those who “stake out” an unbiblical position concerning sexuality and look for Scriptural nuances to support their position. These most dangerous improvisers lead many astray while promising freedom.
Therefore, anyone who chooses to improvise sexuality by changing the will of God from covenant marriage between a man and a woman is manipulating God’s will and is committing idolatry. This includes heterosexuals who live together, those who have multiple partners, those who are bisexual, those who are homosexual and those who are transsexual. Every sexual expression that is lived outside of covenant marriage between a man and woman is an improvised lifestyle and falls into the category of idolatry.
Here is an even scarier truth. Just because you are married in a Biblical, covenant marriage doesn’t mean you won’t still manipulate your partner and turn your sexual relationship into idolatry. Paul says that we are not to treat our Christian partners the way the unsaved do their partners. “That each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, NIV).
Finally, when we look at Romans 1, it is easy to forget that Paul is linking the issue of idolatry with the improvisation of sexuality. Those improvising theologians who are defending homosexuality forget that Paul is talking about worshipping the “created” over God (he is not just singling out homosexuals). Sexuality is merely where the greatest battle has always existed in regards to false worship. Man wants to improvise regarding his sexuality on all kinds of levels—and God is clearly saying this is idolatry.
Paul says: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised.” (Romans 1:24-25, NIV). We don’t have to go any further. There is a dangerous game afoot; it is improvising the holy standard of God’s Word to fit our generation’s selfish agenda. Don’t let anyone fool you. Guard your hearts against this idolatry.