Question:

Hi,

My wife and I are both Christians. My wife put a picture for Buddha in our home because it matches our furniture color and it is nicely painted. I almost fought with her to remove the picture because it contradicts with our faith in Christ in my opinion. The questions are:

First, is it wrong to have the picture if we both don't believe in Buddha?

Second, if it's wrong and my wife is never convinced to remove it, what should I do? I don't want to fight with my wife.

Thank you, and waiting for your reply


Answer:

Consider some principles God has pointed out in Scripture: "Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him" (I Corinthians 8:4-6). Most Christians know there is no such thing as other gods or idols. They are just wood, metal, paint and that there is only one God. 

Paul mentions people were eating food sacrificed to idols, but that they were also going to feasts and participating in them at temples. "But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?" (I Corinthians 8:9-10). Paul later on condemns them for participating in idol worship because participation is showing approval by their actions. "Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?" (I Corinthians 10:18-22). 

We know these are fake gods and there is no life in them. The problem is those attending the feasts say otherwise by their actions. They are provoking God to jealousy because they are showing approval of the the fake gods by eating the food that was sacrificed to an idol. Even if the food is presented at someone's house as being offered to an idol, once that is mentioned, then it becomes wrong to eat (I Corinthians 10:23-30). It isn't because the Christian thinks the idol is something, but because the one mentioning it honors the idol and will think you approve if you eat.

It is by a person's actions, and not just by his belief alone, that shows what was important to the person. By eating food known to be sacrificed to an idol shows his approval of idolatry. 

Now apply this concept to a t-shirt. Your wife is wearing a t-shirt that has Saddam Hussein (or some other notorious criminal) on it. It is the perfect shirt that matched her pants, earrings, hair color, gloves and don't forget the shoes! The shirt completes this outfit and makes it look stunning, beyond beautiful, more than words can describe! (Every woman's dream of the perfect outfit.) Now we know it is just a image on a t-shirt. It has no power, life, authority in it for it is just a piece of clothing. It has no special meaning to you or your wife -- you believe in God and worship Him. But what will other people think? Will people think you honor a evil man? Will those who do not know you well enough or not know you at all, think you support his life, teachings and what he did to his people? "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved" (I Corinthians 10:31-33).

Now apply the t-shirt to an image of Buddha on your wall. If you would not wear a t-shirt with Buddha because people would think you are a Buddhist and endorse all his teachings and not a Christian, why would you hang it in your home for the sake of  "decor" to give the wrong impression to another Christian and to a non-believer? How we conduct ourselves at home, jobs, or generally out in the world reflects constantly who we are in Christ. If you have a picture of Buddha in your home, it reflect who you are. If I have a picture of Marilyn Manson on my wall because it goes well with the decor, people will think I endorse his teachings, songs and lifestyle regardless of my personal intentions and beliefs.

To answer your question in one sentence: Yes, it would be wrong because you are showing approval of Buddha's life, what he stood for, what he did and what he taught. 

The best way to explain this to your wife is to point out that you or she would never wear a shirt with Buddha, Satan, or a Nazi symbol, etc. on it because it shows approval by what we wear. Then say, why would we do the same thing in our own home? People visit and will see it. But more importantly you yourselves will see it every day. Offer your wife some money to help buy another picture that goes with the decor, but the Buddha picture goes in the trash where it belongs. What your wife may be forgetting is that teachings of Buddha are not from God. Buddhism contradicts the laws of God and endorses the ways of the world. 

You asked: "Second, if it's wrong and my wife is never convinced to remove it, what should I do? I don't wanna fight with my wife."

If she refuses, simply point out it bothers you. Your writing this email shows you honesty think it is wrong; therefore, it defiles your conscience, which causes you to sin. Do not think to attack her, but instill confidence in her that the picture does look perfect and in all truth, even though you like the way it looks with the decor and shows her good taste, you are confident she will be able to find another picture that will look just as good. 

You are to lead your family concerning spiritual matters. Sometimes confrontation is unavoidable because you must lead like Christ. Even His disciples did not always agree with Him, but He still did what was best for them and did the will of God. You must do what is best for your family, even if it means to disagree with your spouse, but do it in a loving, caring and respectful way. 

Alan Feaster

 

Thank you very much Alan for your detailed answer! I really appreciate the effort you took to reply to me! God bless you.