Goddesses on the mantel?

Some things never go out of style. Classical Greek and Roman decorating motifs wereVDM VERY popular a couple of generations ago and still have many fans. I know an evangelical Christian who has several small Greek and Roman statues on display in her house. One of the statues is a miniature of the famous Venus de Milo (see photo), which was sculpted around 100 B.C. and discovered on the Greek island of Milos in 1820.

Aphrodite (Venus was the Roman equivalent) was the very popular Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. There were many temples and shrines throughout ancient Greece dedicated to Aphrodite but the most famous ones were in the cities of Athens and Corinth. Ritual prostitution was an integral part of the worship of this pagan goddess.

I was surprised to see the statue and gently asked my Christian friend why she would have a nude statue of a pagan goddess on display in her house? She was visibly offended and replied it was merely decorative; a culturally-acceptable symbol of beauty. It wasn’t like she was worshipping the statue or anything like that. Also, the statue had great sentimental value because it was owned and displayed by her deceased mother and if it was good enough for Mom…, etc. I attempted to discuss the issue further but was met with increasingly icy emotions.

Well, I knew I was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about this one. Would Jesus have had a statue of a nude, pagan goddess on his mantle? Oy! The idea is laughably preposterous! Or how about the apostle Paul, a sinner saved by grace? Oh, absolutely ludicrous beyond imagination! And yet this Christian can justify displaying the statue with no qualms whatsoever.

Of course, in criticizing this sister, the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that I also have things in my life that the Lord is not happy with. Argh! They’re certainly not as blatant or conspicuous as that pagan statue but they are just as willfully disobedient.

Lord, reveal and take away those things from my life that do not please You. Help me to be softhearted and instructable as You teach me from Your Word. Help me to follow You in all that I do. It’s only by Your grace that I’m saved and it’s only by Your grace that I can serve and please You.

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14 thoughts on “Goddesses on the mantel?

  1. I really don’t see anything wrong with it either. If my mother or grandmother had an heirloom that meant something to them, I certainly would want to keep it particularly if it was something worth putting on display. Art is a product of the culture that produces it – and sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder that even the greatest cultures of all don’t last forever. Who knows, perhaps in a few hundred years time, somebody might be equally offended that someone would dare display a cross as a symbol of ancient superstition known for its judgmental attitudes and hypocrisy. Would you gracefully accept their correction or stand up for the thing you believe in when the rest of the world doesn’t?

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  2. Exodus 20:3-6

    “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    For the comment about “what if in a few hundred years…” well we know that God is forever..everlasting..never changing..and we would stand up for what we believe in..we are now.
    Amen Tom!!!

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    1. Thanks, Andi! God’s Word doesn’t give any wiggle room. There are no two ways about it in my mind. My thinking is, at the very least, a statue like that would be an offense to many/most Christians who visited that home. That should be enough reason to trash it. Sometimes we get so deep into the unbelieving culture that surrounds us that we become indifferent or even buy into the world’s viewpoint. But after I had gently admonished this sister, the Lord gave me an “earful” about my own “shortcomings.”

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      1. Oh yes…I am an ex Catholic and I had a giant pic of the Virgen de Guadalupe and a statue of her as well..I will tell you for one week I couldn’t sleep well..I was exhausted..I asked Him why can’t I sleep? I was brought to readings in Isaiah about idolatry and knew He was speaking to me..I wrapped them up and threw them out and had the best nights sleep ever..believe it or not. I mean hey no one is perfect..but now I know better and know that keeping statues or pics of any kind other than a cross..is unacceptable in the eyes of God.

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      2. Yes, yes! When we’re obedient to His will and trusting Him completely, our cares and anxieties just fall away. I just started reading Jeremiah in my daily devotion and it’s a great one too for warnings on idolatry and faithlessness.

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  3. This was very interesting Tom. In my work, I am in the homes of quite a few Hispanics, who are almost universally Roman Catholic when they arrive in this country. In all of the houses, there is a shrine or altar present. Some of it is very superstitious as well. Thank goodness there are several missions from different churches to reach out to them. They are far easier to reach once they get here than they ever would be in their native lands. At least that is true in Southeast Arkansas, where the influence of the Catholic Church is not that strong.

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    1. Thanks, Wally. Yes, South American Catholics are known to mix Catholicism with native traditions and superstitions. But we see some of that even up here in the Northeast. Catholics are not just prone to superstition, they’re steeped in it; holy water, medals, relics, etc. The woman I refer to in the post is also ex-Catholic so I’m guessing having decorative statues of pagan gods and goddesses on display is easier for her to rationalize than, say, someone who was brought up in a Baptist background. Especially since her mother, a Catholic, displayed the same statues in her home.

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      1. When I was a kid back in the 60s there seemed to be a LOT of old ladies who had those statues in their parlors. We used to giggle over those naked statues. My thought was, why is it not OK for Dad to have a Playboy magazine but naked Greek goddesses are OK?

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