The prohibition against idolatry tells us not to open our hearts in
total submission to anyone but the Author of all existence and the One
who holds our breath in His hand (Daniel 5:23). But there is so much
more to this commandment which takes us far beyond the act that violates
the letter of the law.
The prohibition against idolatry encourages us not to allow ourselves to
be overwhelmed and overawed by qualities exhibited by any being that
exists within the confines of the finite. Yes, we can respect and admire
beauty, power, might, righteousness, selflessness, and intelligence that
we find in a finite existence. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that
this finite existence is as helpless and as dependent as I am and that
it is not the author of its own existence.
The prohibition against idolatry calls upon us to appreciate our own
intrinsic value. It tells us that we are never intrinsically smaller or
lesser than any other finite existence. All of us exist in a world that
we did not create, in space that is not ours and in time that we cannot
move. And all of us are intrinsically worthy simply by virtue of our
existence in this beautiful world.
The prohibition against idolatry encourages us to see the nobility of
man. It encourages us to respect our ability to submit ourselves to
others and not to frivolously bend our hearts in worship. This
commandment demands that we not see ourselves or others as inherent
subjects of one another.
The prohibition against seeing ourselves as intrinsically lesser than
any other finite being also encourages us to view every other human
being as an equal before God. A worldview which justifies the lording of
one human being over another is only a small step away from a worldview
that sees a human as an entity that is a servant of the sun.
The prohibition against idolatry is a call to recognize the dependence
of the object that is demanding our worship. And in turn it directs
attention to our own dependence upon the Author of existence. This same
prohibition reminds us that we are not intrinsically dependent upon the
goodwill of any other finite being. The first commandment calls us to
appreciate that our existence is but a gift and that every finite
existence is nothing but a gift. The spirit of this law calls upon us to
recognize that our hearts and mind belong to no one but to the Author of
existence and that our hearts are not ours to give over in submission to
anyone but to the true Owner of our heart.
Gratitude, an appreciation for truth and justice together with the
recognition that all human beings are intrinsically equal are all part
and parcel of the broad scope of this commandment.  Any act, word or
thought that diminishes our appreciation for truth, our ability to be
thankful, or our respect of a fellow man is a violation of the spirit of
this commandment.

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