Idols Block Agency and Access
Thought's on Freedom
Trauma and abuse usually end up blocking a person’s agency and access to resources, individually and socially.
And God wants to liberate us from this.
The Second Commandment tells us not to make any images or idols (Ex. 20:4-6).
And it’s not just because God is invisible and can’t be represented in physical form (although that’s true).
And it’s not just because God is a jealous God (which is also a true, but often misunderstood, aspect of God).
Idolatry is Enslavement
Idols are part of a larger social and religious system.
This system is controlled by those with power.
Those with power (the few) limit the access and agency of ordinary people (the many) in relationship to the divine, and by extension, to every part of their lives.
And God wanted to free Israel from all of this.
As Richard Middleton says,
An anthropological rationale for the prohibition of images would be that idolatry is part and parcel of a larger priest-controlled social system that disempowers ordinary people by robbing them of both access to God and significant agency in the world.
~ The Liberating Image
We Are the Liberated Image/Idol of God
As many biblical scholar notes, the reason God didn’t want humans to make idols (of God or anything else), is that God already made humanity as God’s image/idol.
Humanity—all of humanity, not just some of humanity—is made for agency in the world and access to God.
Our agency in the world is called the royal function of being made in God’s image. Everyone is creatively called to extend God’s kingdom in the world.
Our access to God is called the priestly function of being made in God’s image. Everyone is called to dwell and belong in the presence of God
Of course, with the introduction of sin, the royal and priestly aspect of humanity is greatly complicated.
It is For Freedom You Have Been Set Free
Becoming enslaved to social systems of idolatry isn’t just some ancient problem.
Sure, most of us in the West don’t bow down before physical figurines.
But like those Paul was writing to in the book of Galatians, we become enslaved to ideas and practices, ethnicities and nationalisms.
Paul has to remind them that the same God who said, at the beginning of the 10 Commandments…
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery…” (Ex. 20:2)
… is the same God who works freedom through the Son, for
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)
And all of this is kind of why Cyd and I wrote Does God Really Like Me? Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With Us.
It is a sneaky biblical theology of God’s presence and being made in God’s image, and all the twists and turns this takes throughout the story of the Bible.