The meaning of idolatry to you?

Idolatry was brought up in a different thread, so I wanted to ask the question, what is your understanding of the term?

Protestants often like to accuse Catholics of worshipping idols because we sometimes pray in front of a statue of Mary or a saint, but I often took the term idolatry to be more related to worshipping false Gods.

Colossians

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

I never for a second considered saying a prayer in front of a statue of Our Lady as idolatrous, and we don’t pray to the statue, as protestants often like to say. We’re not expecting the statue to smile at us and give us a nod of approval or think it is looking at us, I think we simply use that as something to focus on. Sometimes just staring at a wall and praying can make it hard to focus for some. It’s why some people often prefer to pray privately in a church.

Anyway I was wondering what other people’s understanding of the term is.

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I define it as making someone or something else more important than God.

This is a much more challenging definition than the one so often promoted by Protestants, who may think they’re “off the hook” because they don’t “worship statues.” (Neither do we, but most of the Protestants I talk to can’t/won’t be convinced).

Most of us don’t think any saints are more important than God or feel any inclination toward polytheism. But we have to keep ourselves in check so that things like money, power, pleasure, and honor/ego don’t become our idols.

Here is the concept expressed in our Catechism.

[2113] Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon."44 Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast"45 refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.46

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Paying divine honor/worship to something that is not divine.

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In this day and age, the false gods are pleasure, power, honor, and wealth.

Plus variations of those, like liberty/choice.

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Modern Catholic Dictinary, idolatry: “giving divine honors to a creature”. And idol: “Any creature that is given divine honors.” and also “An object becomes an idol when it is treated as an end in itself, with no reference to God.”

Just looked this up. It is from Bishop Barron that I got that idea of the four substitutes for God. He explains it better than I.

2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.

Catechism provides my definition

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Pachamama ?

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I would like to posit that many people nowadays are literally making up their own God and worshiping it.

For instance, people will casually say, “I like to think of God as…” or “The Jesus I worship would never…”

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No, as I recall, the thread that led Polak to create this was about Mary and the frequently asked Protestant question about statues and praying to saints.

I assumed @Carmel was saying that was her idea of idolatry.

But yes, it was that thread that caused me to create this one.

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The subject has been well covered with the preceding posts. I will add just a couple of brief examples, from strictly my own point of view, of idolatry that can be seen today.

The American Flag. It has been made into an idol by many. Ideals of patriotism can become the worst sort of idol to root out.

Zealous religion. When the dogma becomes more important than God, it is a most insidious idol.

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