Images in Catholic Church

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Permit me to just make this clarification once again on images. People kept asking questions on images. One said:

“In Exodus 20:4, the Bible stated clearly that: You shall not MAKE FOR YOURSELF a graven image, nor a likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on earth below, nor of those things which are in the waters under the earth.

“But Catholics do not follow this. They have succeeded in making images against God’s law. The same thing God is against. Yet you say Catholics are Christians? You think Catholics will make heaven?”

My response:

Leave the question of who goes to heaven or who will not go to heaven. Nobody, I say NOBODY knows who will go there or who will not except God himself. You might even be surprised the people you will see there. So calm down.

On images

Images are not only what is moulded. Images exist all around us, be it pictures, printings, artifacts, carvings, paintings of animals, of loved ones, of the sky, water etc. These are all images all around us. Even as I type this, there are images in your houses. Your profile picture is an image. .

Remember the command: Exodus 20:4 as you quoted.

“You shall not make for yourself a graven image, nor a likeness of ANYTHING that is IN HEAVEN ABOVE or ON EARTH BELOW, nor of those things which are in the waters under the earth.”

Following strictly the verse you quoted, and the part I highlighted, no one is allowed by any means to make any image in the form of ANYTHING in heaven above or on Earth beneath or in the waters below.

The key word there is ANYTHING. Don’t make images of ANYTHING. Anything means Anything.

All those paintings of the sky in our rooms, all the art collection of images of so many people, animals, and the artifacts in our museum are all against God’s law. Our pictures, profile pictures, banners and images of our pastors and wife. . .are forbidden. In the real sense of it, we all are guilty if we are to just follow that verse of the Bible strictly.

So this is not about Catholics, for if God said we should not have images, simple, we should not. Whether it is kept in homes, or on the street or in the church does not matter.

But,

What those who quote Exodus 20:4 failed to look at is that quoting verse 4 of that passage without quoting verse 5, one automatically shoot his or herself on the foot.

It is verse 5 that made us understood the point of that command. That is what gave the context and qualifications of it. This is why an exegete who interprets the bible is better listened to than those who feel they can with emotions explain the Bible. The problem is, they will fail to see the bigger picture of their erroneous interpretation until it dawned on them.

Verse 5 says:
“You shall not adore them, nor shall you worship them. I am the Lord your God.”

This is why you are free to take the image of your dad or your child and place on the wall of your house, even though following verse 4, they are images you made for yourself of things God created. This is why you can go out and buy some artifacts and carving which are images of things under the earth or above the heaven and you will not be guilty. Why? Simply because, it was not for the intention of worshipping them.

So you see, the right understanding of that passage is that God does not prohibit images but rather the worship of them. We human cannot survive without images, we use imagery even in talking. Everything around us are images. Even Christ taught with imagery. But you see, because of your bias, you only see images in Catholic Churches without seeing the one right there under your nose.

I know that the next question will be about the accusations that Catholics worship those images.

Look out for the next post.

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Fr. Kelvin Ugwu
Fr. Kelvin Ugwu
Fr Kelvin Ugwu MSP is an influential Nigerian Catholic priest on a mission in The Gambia.

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