The Apostle Paul identifies very clearly the fundamental reason for idolatry:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:18-25)
God has revealed Himself to His creation so clearly that all human beings are without excuse when it comes to their failure to honor Him as God/Creator and give Him thanks. Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, such people set themselves on a foolhardy course of foolishness characterized by the lie that the creature is God. Fallen man would sooner worship a snake than bow before God. Thus we see God justly handing these idolaters over to the depths of their evil and sin.
Now, what has all of this got to do with abuse? Certainly abuse is one result of life in a society that largely rejects God. But it is this matter of “by their unrighteousness suppressing the truth” that has jumped out at me this evening.
In our ministry to the victims of abuse, we see — everyday — people who profess to be Christians suppressing the truth. They hold it down. Like any truth, the truth about the nature and existence of abuse keeps trying to jump right out in front of our eyes, but for some reason most people suppress it. Shove it back down as if they were playing one of those carnival pop-up games. There it is again! Whack, knock it back down out of sight.
Let me suggest a theory of mine. I suggest that there is far more culpability (guilt) among people who don’t “get it” about abuse than we might realize. Yes, a certain degree of naivete can explain things, but only for a time. All of us had to go through a wakeup process until finally the lights went on. But at some point the Spirit of Truth in the Christian is going to put the truth about abusers, their thinking, their tactics, etc. square in front of that person’s eyes. And if the response is more suppression of that truth, well then, Romans 1 says there is a serious, serious problem. Because this kind of suppression is characteristic of people who are practicing unrighteousness.
People who simply and knowingly refuse to submit themselves to truth that God has revealed. The thing really comes right up to at least the edge of idolatry because such people exchange the truth of God for a lie. That lie eventually is given some kind of form (marriage, for example) and becomes a false god.
Truth, you see, even as it is revealed by God Himself, is not welcome among idol worshipers. Which once again brings us back round to the question that so often nags at us — just how many people today who claim to be Christians, aren’t? Or how many have permitted idol worship to creep into their minds and hearts with its deceiving, blinding effects. I must confess myself – I believe I was more culpable in the days of my ignorance about abuse that I may want to have admitted to myself. We can probably all own up to that. But what, I ask again, what of people who have the truth about this evil put squarely before them time and time again, but they just keep on pushing it down out of sight?