Catholics and Graven Images

Why do Catholics have statues and images in their churches when the Ten Commandments strictly forbid it?

Do they, point to the section of the commandments that state this?

The Ten Commandments forbid nothing of the kind. See here:

Here are the Catholic Ten Commandments:

1.I am the LORD your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill.
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

I believe your confusion is regarding # 2 of the non-Catholic version:

1.You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make idols.
3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.

God does not command that we not have statues or images, just that we don’t worship those statues and images.

We keep statues to venerate in honour of the persons they’re formed after. We do not bow down and say “I worship you, this statue, and praise you, for you are Divine and you, dear statue, are God himself” - that is the idolatry that the Ten Commandments speak of.

We do not ask favours of the statues and images, but of the people whom they are shaped after, in prayer, directed to the saints, the Blessed Virgin, our Dear Lord, and the angels in Heaven. Either directly to God, or to ask for intercession from others.

You do know that not only Catholics, but Orthodox (icons), as well as ‘high church’ Anglicans and Lutherans have ‘statues’ and that many Christian churches have things like stained glass windows with images of doves, shepherds, crosses, etc. All of these by the 'strictly forbidden ‘images’ crowd would be forbidden. Why heck, if you study early Christian history, Christ Himself was represented (‘imaged’) by a fish. My goodness! As others have noted, the “Ten Commandments” (in Scripture, you’ll note, there are not 10 but 14 in one passage, and more even in another, depending on whether you’re looking at Exodus or Deuteronomy) do not prohibit making images, but making IDOLS. Unfortunately, too many people today (and throughout history) keep trying to redefine words (prayer, worship, image etc are all ‘redefined’ to mean things much more narrowly than they were hundreds of years ago. And don’t start me on ‘gay’. Even FIFTY years ago ‘gay’ meant happy. Try calling your friend ‘gay’ now and expect him or her to know you MEANT ‘happy’ only. Just try.)

Statues are not idols in Christian Churches (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant). Window images are not idols. Pictures and banners are not idols. Nobody confuses statues of saints and angels with Almighty God and thinks, “This piece of marble created me and the world, all hail great marble one!”

Oh, so I guess you have no photos of your family and friends then?

Lots of good answers above, so I won’t repeat them.

The bottom line is: Read the Bible carefully, and always consider the context in which each passage was written. Of course Catholic haters don’t bother to do this.

You might like these articles:

Sacred Images and the New Testament

Sacred Images and the Early Church Fathers

Please let me know if that helps, because I would like to revise them if they are unhelpful.

God bless!

Isn’t a computer screen an image?

The KJ version forbids the making “of graven images, neither of things here on earth or heaven above”. Why is there a distinction between Catholic and Protestant commandments? Where did this come from? how does the Catholic Church support it’s version of the commandments? Pleased to have some help here as I have converted to Catholisim but still working through some of the issues.

The real question is how do the Protestants support their version? After all, Catholicism came first.

But that aside, again I ask, how do those that use the KJ version justify photos, or knick knacks, lawn ornaments even?

Actually quite a few Anglican Churches have stained glass windows, statues, icons etc. so the question wold arise for them naturally and since the KJV was composed originally for the Anglicans that woud raise problems of it’s own. Or at least it would it one was inclined to a) a literatalist reading of passages such as the commandments and b) forgot that the commandments are not in any case numbered in the original text. How they are ordered varies from Christian group to group and our OP here is positing what is essentially a false dilemma. Presumably all those who pop along to worship at St Pauls Cathedral in London must be regarded as idol worshippers as there is a rather fine icon there, or perhaps Rochester Catherdral is equally idolatrous as it contains a beautiful set of frescoes painted by a Russian artist commisioned especially to do so.

The original poster has been asking a number of these questions of late and many of them seem to rest on false dilemmas and shaky understandings of Catholic teaching. It is course commendable that they are attempting to correct such errrors. .

There is not a quick answer to your question.

The Commandments for good or ill have been reduced to
The Ten Commandments

1.I am the Lord, your God.
2.Thou shall bring no false idols before me.
3.Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.
4.Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
5.Honor thy father and thy mother.
6.Thou shall not kill/murder†.
7.Thou shall not commit adultery.
8.Thou shall not steal††.
9.Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10.Thou shall not covet‡ your neighbor’s wife (or anything that belongs to your neighbor).
but this is just a handy way to remember what is basic.
I would recommend that you go to the Catechism
There you will find a complete listing of the commandments

      I. "You Shall Worship the Lord Your God and Him Only Shall You Serve"
     II. "Him Only Shall You Serve"
    III. "You Shall Have No Other Gods before Me"
     IV. "You Shall Not Make for Yourself a Graven Image"

The first Commandment is about worship of God. You won’t worship a false god which is what the graven image is about.

Some groups don’t.
The Church of Christ (from where I was raised) strictly forbids ANY religious images to include the cross, Nativity Scenes, Images of Jesus or the Apostles, etc.
They support this practice with the KJ version of the commandments to which I ask again, Where did this difference come from?

Then how they do reconcile that with the fact that the KJV version was composed primarily for a Church with a very different outlook? It would seem they have taken a more Puritanical outlook in this regard and taken a literalist outlook regarding passages in the Bible, they seem to be echoing controversies such as the iconoclast movement from much earlier in Church history.

Thank you Adrift, just saw your answer and it is helpful. Can anyone trace when this difference in the Comandments came about?

Jharek; Simple, the CofC is sola scriptora in the extreme and everyone, EVERYONE, is wrong except them. CofC fights endlessly among themselves over the simplest differences of opinion.

As another poster stated the Catholic Church was first so how do protestant churches support their version?

It does help to remember that Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Shakespearean English.

What was understood by a group of English scholars working within the context of the last 50-60 years before the KJV was published (a very minor ‘blip’ of time compared to the previous nearly 16 centuries of Catholic Christendom) and thus working within their particular worldview which had a vested interest in ‘interpreting’ things in a way to support Protestant theology, and what Jesus actually said as it was understood by those who spoke the language He did, and those who ‘worked’ with those documents in a language that itself was spoken in the ‘time frame’ and was centuries ‘closer’ to the original, makes a difference.

And there is not really a 'Protestant/ Catholic" set of commandments per se. (FYI, the Lutherans, who are Protestants, use the same ‘set’ as Catholics do). There are actually more than 10 ‘verses’ or 10 ‘commandments’. And the original Scripture did not have punctuation. . .no ‘chapter and verse’. So while we might read today something like "I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt make no ‘graven images’ what was actually written did not have ‘stops’ in between.

The "Catholic 10 commandments’ might not have exactly those words of ‘graven images’ but that doesn’t mean Catholics immediately say, “oh yay, WE can make graven images and adore them instead of God”.

The Protestant 10 commandments aren’t popular with feminists because unlike the Catholic ‘set’, which ends with #9: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. #10. Thou shalt not cover thy neighbor’s goods. == the PROTESTANT version ends with #10 as 9 and 10 lumped together --"thou shalt not cover thy neighbor’s wife, nor his ox, nor his household goods. . .

Both ‘sets’ cover the commandments, which actually aren’t EXACTLY 10, but just number and/or emphasize them a little differently. The Catholic 1 and 2 encompass all the Protestant ‘1’, and then ‘split’ the neighbor’s wife and goods; the Protestant number 10 encompasses the Catholic 9 and 10. Comes down to scholars and personal preference --lots of KJV people love the cadences of the language and the ‘feel’ of something that goes back 500 years, when a lot of Protestant teachings are so much more ‘recent’ than Catholic or Orthodox. Of course, we Catholics (and the Lutherans) have lots of other ‘old teachings’ and are more inclined to view things in a broader construct. I’ve said before, and I don’t mean it in a nasty way, but many modern Protestants keep trying to narrow and narrow and narrow words and ideas (often by ‘cherrypicking’ or taking words and phrases ‘out of context’) and some of them try to bludgeon Catholics by insinuating that we ‘took out’ commandments (the fact that many of THEM ‘took out’ books of the Bible is another example of the irony that is part and parcel of the fracturing of Christendom), instead of seeing that a concept (like the Commandments) can be phrased in two slightly different ways with each way expressing the truth completely.

A person can say, for example, “I love baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet” (a phrase often used to express a simple American patriotism). Another can say, “I love football, burgers, ice cream, and Ford trucks”. The concepts (old fashioned ball games, quintessential “American” foods, though both originated in Germany!, desserts which again are associated with simple old fashioned America, and "American built’ cars, are the same.

Furthermore a person could say, “I love quilting, hot dogs, apple pie, and Mom”. Quilting isn’t a sport, but it’s a leisure activity and again, associated with old fashioned America. And rather than ‘cars’, love of “Mom” is again associated with a patriotic love of family/ country.

So if these three people got together, would the first two accuse the first of not being a patriot because the third didn’t mention a sport instead of a leisure activity? Would the third person indict one and two because instead of a person, they celebrated a motor vehicle?

Or would they agree that all the above, and more, could be considered 'old fashioned patriotic standards?

If only more Catholics and Protestants could love their ‘traditional commandments’ while accepting the TRUTH of the OTHER group, we’d come a lot closer to living as Christians. . .Catholic and nonCatholic.

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