Question: Does the Church violate the Biblical command against "graven images" by displays sculptures of Christ?

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Question: Does the Church violate the Biblical command against "graven images" by displays sculptures of Christ?

Exodus 20:3-4 does not mean that one cannot have pictures, statues, or images of earthly or heavenly things in one's home or in church

It is claimed that the Church violates the Biblical command against "graven images" because it displays sculptures of Christ, statues of the angel Moroni on the spires of our temples, or paintings showing scriptural scenes, within temples, chapels, visitors' centers, and publications. (See Exodus 20:3-4.)

Since

  1. God is the revelator of the verses in question, and
  2. God is God, and
  3. Moses was there and heard firsthand,

one should side with God and Moses and say that Exodus 20:3 does not mean that one cannot have pictures, statues, or images of earthly or heavenly things in one's home or in church.

Instead one should stick with the unambiguous interpretation of this principle that is given in Exodus 34:17, "Thou shalt make thee no molten gods." We are commanded not to worship images, or anything else besides God, and members of the Church do not.

It is ironic that those who accuse the LDS of not being Christians then complain that the Saints use images of Christ to remind them of their worship of him.

The prohibition in Exodus 20 is not the production of graven images per se but the bowing down and serving of such images

The prohibition in Exodus 20: (see also Deuteronomy 5:) is not the production of graven images per se but the bowing down and serving of such images. We should remember that God later commanded the construction of the seraphim and cherubim for the ark (Exodus 25:17-22, Exodus 37:8-9) and temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:23-35, 1 Kings 8:6-7), and the veneration given to the Ark of the Covenant, as well as the brass serpent (Numbers 21:6-9).

In similar fashion, Latter-day Saints do not bow down and serve/worship images of Moroni and images of past and present leaders.

One of the facts that must be reconciled with any interpretation of Exodus 20:3-4 is that the Bible states that God explicitly commanded that the Israelites make images and include them in their holiest places of worship. The text explicitly says that these images were revealed to Moses while he was on the mount (Exodus 25:40 and Exodus 26:30), meaning that they were given at the same time as the Ten Commandments and are part of the environment in which Exodus 20 must be interpreted.

For example:

  • Exodus 25:18-20: God commands that gold Cherubim be made to cover the mercy seat in the tabernacle. (Exodus 37:7-9 says that Moses made the image.)
  • Exodus 25:33: God commands that the tabernacle bowls be almond-shaped with flowers. (Exodus 37:19 says that Moses made the image.)
  • Exodus 26:1: God commands that Cherubim be fashioned on the Tabernacle curtains. (Exodus 36:8 says that Moses made the image.)
  • Exodus 28:33: God commands that pomegranates be sewn onto the hem of the high priest's robe. (Exodus 39:24-26 says that Moses made the image.)

And finally:

And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them. (Exodus 39:43).

Furthermore, we have not even mentioned all the images that were used during the construction of Solomon's Temple, such as the oxen holding up the brass sea (see 1 Kings 7:25) or the lions, oxen, and cherubim on the base (see 1 Kings 7:29).

Those people who reject all images of things on earth or in heaven have an interpretation of Exodus 20:3-4 that doesn't agree with God's interpretation of those verses or with Moses' interpretation of those verses.


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