Idolatry Prevalent in American Culture, Says Seattle Pastor

The Ten Commandments may seem like archaic laws that need a little updating but they are as relevant today as they were several millennia ago, one pastor suggested.

"Let's Scrap the Ten Commandments," says John Weeks, a writer for San Bernardino County's The Sun. "Some of them are plain silly, based, as they are, upon ancient obsessions with farm animals and statues that most of us have moved well beyond.

"We don't work our oxes or donkeys on the sabbath, nor do we covet our neighbor's oxes or donkeys. And very few of us worship statues any more."

Though that may be true, many people today do not keep the Sabbath and some have replaced statues with pop icons, food or beauty.

Mark Driscoll, preaching pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, defines an idol as something or someone that occupies the place of God in a person's life.

"[It's] preeminent, prominent, the center of your life, gives you identity, meaning, value, purpose, love, significance, security," he told ABC's Nightline. "When the Bible uses the word 'idol', that's what it's getting at."

"If you worship alcohol you become an alcoholic. If you worship food, you become a glutton. If you worship pleasure you become a sex addict," Driscoll continued. "All the modern vernacular is really not dealing with the root issue of idolatry: Something or someone is preeminent other than God."

The second commandment that "thou shalt have no other gods before me" may be the most relevant commandment of all, the Seattle pastor told ABC, which is doing a series on the Ten Commandments and how they apply to modern life.

Idolatry, he said, "shows itself in our culture in how we idolize celebrities, athletes, food, family, sex, money, relationships, and achievement – or rather, what we call American culture."

Human sacrifices during the Old Testament time may be equivalent to millions of people today sacrificing their health for their job, income or a certain lifestyle, he noted. Worshipping statues may be equivalent to the millions who mourned the death of pop star Michael Jackson this past summer.

"When his face is on your T-shirt and when you listen to his music for hours, when you give large sums of money to him personally, when his death causes you to go into a steep depression and you have a collection of memorabilia – I think if you walked in from another culture, you would say that's a very curious god they've chosen," Driscoll said to ABC.

Idolatry, he warned, ultimately destroys because the idols invariably disappoint. "They aren't perfect. They aren't continually faithful. They don't' endure forever," he said.

Offering Jesus as the answer to all of the idolatry, Driscoll said Jesus gives while idols take; Jesus gives new life while idols destroy life; and Jesus redeems and heals while idols break apart people and relationships.

ABC kicked off its Ten Commandment series last month with a debate between Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, and founder Noel Biderman on the topic of adultery. The segment on idolatry aired Monday.