(The LORD said) "You shall have no other gods before Me." Deuteronomy 5:7
When most of us hear that commandment, our minds conjure up images of people bowing down before some stone statue.
An article which recently appeared in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease says that kind of thinking probably needs to be changed. "Forget carved idols," the survey says, "and replace that idea with one in which our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members worship movie, television, recording and sports stars."
According to a study done by psychologists at the University of Leicester, 36 percent of the people polled have some form of the idolatry they call, "CWS" ("celebrity worship syndrome"). Dr John Maltby, the man who conducted the survey, says folks with CWS are actively worshipping this world's rich and famous.
The article notes that celebrity worship syndrome can range from the mild to the wild.
Those who have a mild case of celebrity worship syndrome usually talk on and on and on about their idol. Those with a wilder form of CWS have convinced themselves they have an actual, authentic relationship with the star: a relationship in which the star not only knows them, but is taking a personal interest in their lives.
And if you're wondering whether celebrity worship syndrome is a real religion, Dr. Maltby is inclined to say, "There are some pretty close comparisons between the two ...."
For example, folks with CWS come together and support each other like a good congregation does; folks with CWS recruit new members like a good church does, and people with CWS promote their belief system, even as they denigrate others.
So, do I believe this report? I do. I've seen people call into the Home Shopping Network and talk to the salespeople, as if they were old friends. Before and after every Academy Awards show I've heard commentary on what a star wore, what they looked like and what they said. I've listened as sports commentators shared the most trite and trivial details of an athlete's life.
Yes, I believe the report, and I also believe it is a sad thing when people are more concerned about a movie star, than they are with their own soul. It's a potential tragedy when a human heart is fixated on an athlete or singer rather than the Savior.
I can understand why God would be a jealous God.
How disappointed He must be to see people set His perfect Son's sacrifice up on the shelf, so they might worship a sinful human being. How sad He must be to see the Savior set aside for an American idol.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, send Your Holy Spirit upon souls who are searching for someone to respect, love and worship. Turn them from following the finite so they may worship You and Your infinite love, as seen in their crucified and ever-living Savior. This I pray in my Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries