I was making some notes in the Gospel Library app while reviewing the Doctrine & Covenants chapter one because this verse prompted some thoughts about idolatry.
They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.D&C 1:16
When idols are mentioned we think of little or large statues, something crafted as to represent God; an object of worship.
We may think that since we do not worship little statues that this doesn’t apply to us. Some people think that mobile phones or other objects are modern idols.
But I think that the core issue of idolatry is actually going through life relying on a manufactured image of God versus a clear witness of his glory.
When our own lack of faith blocks us from that glory we are left to craft our own images of him which are all wholly insufficient at best or a wrested distortion at worst.
As the verse says, just like a physical idol, even the ideological idol’s ‘substance’ will ‘wax old’ or mushroom into a decayed image far worse than the original.
How can a person become like God when they are trying to pattern themselves after a distortion?
The scriptures testify of a being that is far beyond what any words or images in mortality can convey.
There is nothing even remotely close to God in this world. There is no substitute for standing in his glory and presence.
God invites all to receive of his Heavenly Gift without money or price.
“How can a person become like God when they are trying to pattern themselves after a distortion?”
This is a fabulous question! Thanks for putting it here.
I heard someone comment once, and this is a paraphrase, that “who ever you turn to first when you have gospel questions is an idol to you.”
I think there is some truth to that, however, I think the paraphrased quote doesn’t work well on its own and I’ll explain why. The Lord told Oliver Cowdery to study things out in his mind and I think that may be a principle that applies to us as well.
When we have a gospel question, turning to the scriptures, family, friends, leaders, etc. all may be valid parts of our study and not idolatry.
Now, if we continue and take all that we have learned in this process to God as our ultimate authority in the end, then all of that searching can culminate in an experience with God where our mind has been informed to a capacity where he might be better able to help us understand.
But if we never take that additional step to give God the ultimate say, then perhaps ending our study with some mortal device alone could be a form of idolatry in that we elevate other sources above God.
This describes a polytheism of the present day, where “every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god,” which division God says he “hates” (Psalm 119:113). It is the Law of the Lord that has the power to unite mankind. If all mankind could seek the Lord, to establish His righteousness, unity would prevail and the varied idols would vanish. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
This has been the struggle from the beginning. We have succeeded in smaller groups, but we have not yet figured out how to unite all of mankind. Maybe another way to look at it is that we know what to do right, but we have not yet figured out what we are doing wrong.