Question:

Hello,

I had this question in mind for a long time and I feel you would be the best person who could answer this based on Scripture.

I stay in India, and we have multicultural society with multiple religion and festival celebrated among friends and neighbors. It is quite common to be invited by Hindu or Muslims friends who tell us to visit their temple or place of worship or even at their home and pray to their diety. Not visiting their holy places would also mean a sign of disrespect shown toward them and their sensitivity.

But the Bible tells us we believe in one God (or triune God)and praying to other gods or visiting their temple would mean we lack faith in our own God. Can you tell me what does Scriptures tell us about it? Would it be fine to visit temples and mosques just to pay a visit as a mark of respect or is it best to completely avoid visiting religious places that does not belong to us?

Much appreciate your reply.


Answer:

During the writing of the New Testament, the Gentiles were idol worshipers. The situations you describe in India today were common in areas like Rome or Greece back then. Idolatry is condemned, so that eliminates any worship of any so-called gods. As Jerusalem wrote to Christians, the Spirit desires "that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell" (Acts 15:29). The avoidance isn't because an idol is anything but because people give credence to idols as being something (see I Corinthians 8). You cannot worship before idols and reach heaven (I Corinthians 6:9-10). "Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry" (I Corinthians 10:14).

Yes, the idol worshipers will take offense. Your refusal is a statement that their idol is not real. But that is the point we should be getting across. "For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you" (I Peter 4:3-4). Think of it this way, why would an idolator change if we accept their religion as it is?

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen" (I John 5:21).

Thank you, Jeffrey, for answering my question and clearing my doubts on this subject. As always much appreciated.