Idolatry

Idolatry is perhaps the sin mentioned most often in the Bible. Although idolatry is described in different ways, it usually involves putting something else in the place of God, often something that humans have made themselves. In a typical reference, Isaiah writes, “They bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made” (Isaiah 2, 8). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul repeatedly condemns idolatry, criticising those who “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being” (Romans 1, 23).

Some argue that human relationships with money have become a form of idolatry. This could be a matter of individual attitudes: anything can become an idol to someone, and for many people, money is an object of devotion. However, the argument can be taken further. Some suggest that we are practising idolatry if we treat financial systems as if they were immutable structures that can never be changed, or require that human needs take second place to “the needs of the markets”. In this case, we are forgetting that markets and money are products of our own creation.