I recently spent an inordinate amount of time sick in bed. At first I watched a period drama to pass the time. As the episodes unfolded something about the heart of the story made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t until the grand finale where everyone said what they really meant about all the drama that I was able to put my finger on what was so unsettling. The entire show was one long production of worship to love, true love even.
Apart from the fact that the show was an act of worship to a lesser god, the “true love” wasn’t even true. This couple spent years being destructive to themselves, each other, their children, and every other person in their lives all in the name of true love. True love is not destructive. If the “love” is toxic let’s just be honest and call it for what it is rather than justify the ugly with beautiful words.
I couldn’t help wonder how many women and girls had watched this show and bought the message about what love looks like, inviting the same destructive powers into their lives in the name of love. It’s too heartbreaking. I soon retreated away from drama programing and into the safety of history and home restoration.
My pastor gave a sermon a couple weeks back on Solomon. He pointed out how many wives Solomon had, and how these foreign wives influenced him to include the worship of their gods along with the worship of the one true God at the temple. (1 Kings 11) Some of the idols my pastor listed was Ashtoreth, a deity representing love and fertility, worshiped through sex trafficking; and Molech (also known as Chemosh), a deity, representing a protective father, ironically worshiped through child sacrifice.
What struck me about the sermon and the list of idols was the fact that these idols are still around and still worshipped. We just call it all by different names. My bible dictionary said that Ashtoreth is just the Middle Eastern name for Aphrodite, the goddess of erotic love. The worship of Ashtoreth is still going strong, with sex trafficking thriving as a billion dollar industry and basic destructive sexual practices suggested and encouraged by every song and show. We don’t call it Ashtoreth, we just call it love.
Molech is still around too. We don’t have burning altars with which to sacrifice our children, but we are still sacrifcing babies. We just call it abortion, and we still do it for the sake of protection. The setting may be different, but the rite is the same. The name might be different but the false god is the same. The destructive influence is still at work in culture and still in conflict with God for our hearts.
Pastors love to talk about Mammon (the god representing the love of money) and how people still worship the pursuit of material wealth and money. We don’t call money Mammon anymore, but we recognize the danger is still there. What about the rest? Shouldn’t we be naming these false gods and shedding light on their 21st century names in order to warn people off from being ensnared by them?
The gospel of Jesus is just as important today as it was when Peter preached it. The damage from idol worship is still rampant and the good news still needs to be proclaimed. We still need to be vigilant for what is influencing our lives, as Christ followers, so that we might be a light on a lampstand shining the hope that is Jesus into the darkness.
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Merrill F. Unger, R.K. Harrison, Editor. 1988. Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Pages 484-487.