Morality and Ethics

Second commandment – What about religious pictures and movies?

Paul makes a statement which does seem to sanction picturing Christ, as is done in movies of the life of Christ:

Galatians 3:1  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

The word “portrayed” has this definition in the USB lexicon: “Write in former times (pf. pass. be written about or marked out Jd 4); write above or already; put on public display, placard (Ga 3.1)”

Yet there is a danger in images, as C.S. Lewis wrote when remembering his wife:

“I need Christ, not something that resembles Him. I want H., not something that is like her. A really good photograph might become in the end a snare, a horror, and an obstacle.” (C.S. Lewis)

But he continues:

“Images, I must suppose, have their use or they would not have been so popular. (It makes little difference whether they are pictures or statues outside the mind or imaginative constructions within it.) To me, however, their danger is more obvious. Images of the Holy easily become holy images–sacrosanct. My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of his presence? The incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins. And most are ‘offended’ by the iconoclasm; and blessed are those who are not.” (C.S. Lewis, from A Grief Observed)

So this points out that there are indeed dangers, images must not be sacrosanct, and we must expect them to be limited, and in various aspects, incorrect. Yet there is also value in them, or else God would not have given us so many … images of himself!

A lamb, a dove, a lion, a shepherd, a vine.

Each of these produces images in our mind, why would God use such images, requiring visual imagery, if all pictures of God are strictly forbidden?

Did God not intend to have us think of the Lamb of God, when we see a lamb? Does God not intend us to think of his nature, to think of what God is like, when we see other people? Indeed, we are in “the image of God” (Gen. 1:27).

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