And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Worship can be defined as “worth-ship.” What do we deem worthy of our attention, affection, devotion, time, the best of us…worship is the exaltation of someone or something. When we worship something or someone, we find our security, hope, and happiness in it or them. We expect who and what we worship to save us, complete us, fulfill, and please us.
The problem with idolatry is that we often don’t realize we have exalted something or someone to the level of God or even above Him. It’s often subtle. Yet, it’s dangerous.
Idols bring bondage. If you read in the Bible about all the people who worshipped false gods, they were disappointed, enslaved, and they hurt the heart of God. God doesn’t bless idolatry. It will keep many out of heaven.
Some believe God doesn’t care how we treat Him. This is not truth, nor is it Biblical. God went to great lengths to demonstrate to the Israelites He cares greatly about the way we interact with Him. He alone is worthy to be first in our lives. And He alone is God.
Today our culture (especially in some Christian circles) idolize marriage. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the divorce rate is just a high for Christians as non believers. Idols always disappoint. There’s always devastation in areas where we place something or someone above God.
Why the idol of marriage is dangerous:
1. Spouses are set up to be gods instead of people finding identity in God.
A spouse can’t save anyone. If people seek out marriage for a savior, identity, security, selfish means, there will be devastation. No human being can complete another person. They can compliment, but not complete. Yes God pulled Eve out of Adam, and two became one again. Yet they were both designed to put God first and worship Him, not each other.
I know a few people who made their spouse “god”. Their spouses are miserable and so are they. They are constantly disappointed when their spouse fails to meet their expectations and the person elevated to “god” status is resentful of the high expectations.
Spouse does not equal God.
2. Marriage is sought out to “fix” singleness and get sex, rather than a commitment to love, die to self, serve, and be a blessing to someone else.
God sets up relationships to build love. There’s no part of love that is selfish. When two selfish people get married, there’s a rocky road ahead. Love requires compromise. Paul encouraged people to consider the problems marriage would bring.
People who have taught marriage cures lust have misunderstood Paul’s statement, “It’s better to marry than burn with passion.” There’s a difference between sexual desire (God given) and lust (deeply selfish and self seeking). Marriage doesn’t cure lust any more than going to a bar cures alcoholism. Lust is a heart issue and a spiritual issue. If you have strong desires to be married or procreate, that’s not sin. If you’re seeking marriage only to get your needs met, then you may be confronting lust and/or insecurity.
3. It separates instead of unifies. God considers the Body of Christ family. When society or churches only say or only treat couples and their kids as family, you leave out millions of singles, widows, etc..,
I’ve grown up in church. My dad is a pastor. My mum was my Sunday school teacher. Our church operated like a big family. It wasn’t married people in one section, singles in another. Everyone was family, no one left out. We mourned and celebrated and served each other.
I’ve been to churches where you have no community if you’re a single person. I’ve heard sermons on why you should get married. I’ve seen and experienced losing friends once they got married. God never intended for us to segregate. Many things and priorities change with marriage; the Body of Christ should still be a place where ALL people despite social status are loved as family.
4. It sends a message that if you’re not married, something is wrong with you.
I tell you, I’ve been engaged and I thank God often I did not get married. It would’ve been the marriage from hades. It’s better to bypass marrying at the wrong time or the wrong person, than to have a lifetime of suffering. I know about a dozen couples who are just enduring; enduring their controlling spouse, enduring being neglected, misunderstood, and taken for granted, enduring a painful, hellish, loveless marriage. Sweet friends, it’s not something to jump into without prayer, wise counsel, and an understanding that it may not be happily ever after.
Apostle Paul and Jesus were both single and did amazing things in the earth! Single is not a disease to be cured; it’s a part of life to live without any hinderance to devotion to Christ. He’s glorious.
5. There’s minimal focus on the challenges of marriage and how to overcome them.
This idol is romanticized and dressed up. It’s glamorous. If you pull back the veil, you can see that there are times of joy and pain. You can see there are days of laughter and days of tears. You can see two people continually dying to self to be the best for Jesus and the other person. Many don’t talk about the challenges for fear it’s damaging. I’m fortunate to have quite a few people willing to be transparent.
Many years ago I met a lady who kept telling me to get married. She bragged on how awesome her marriage was. She encouraged me to settle down because I would finally be complete, etc. I thought, “Wow, she has the perfect marriage.” Well, years later I found out she had been cheating on her husband for years. It was challenging for me as a young adult, to have a person claiming to love God and her husband found to live a double life. I don’t judge or condemn. I was sad. The image didn’t match reality.
If you’re single and you want to be married, I’m praying for you that God’s perfect will be accomplished and you’re prepared for what’s to come. You are not the freak of the world if you’re single. Devote your life to Christ and keep pursuing Him. Being single is far better than being married to the wrong person.
If you’re married, please know your spouse is not God, nor will they ever be God. They are human. Please be kind and considerate to singles. Use appropriate boundaries for members of the opposite sex, but don’t treat singles like aliens with a disease that needs to be cured. And while people are happy for you, continuous bragging about your spouse or kids is not helpful to those who long to be married and have kids.
Father thank You for giving us the gift of relationships. I pray we’d keep them in their proper place. Cast down the idol of marriage and help us worship You alone. For those single and married, I pray for unity, compassion, and love. Break off our selfishness, and help us to find identity in You alone. In Jesus powerful name, amen.