Prostitution of Our Souls

Girls thinking through idols in their life

Recently I led a devotional time for a group of college women on the subject of idols. I framed our discussion on the truth that  I have recently discovered in my own life: idols steal our hearts from Jesus in an entanglement of false hope. In a commentary I read while preparing for this time, John Piper explained that in our relationship with God, there is no singleness. We are either faithfully married to God and completely devoted to Him, or we are a prostitute.

A prostitute? I had to stop and think about that.... I look at my life and think it's pretty far from "prostitute." But God's standards are not our standards, and in the book of Hosea, He lays out in pretty thick language how He feels when we run away from His love and into the arms of other lovers.

How often do we think of our idols (the things we put our trust in other than Christ) as inconvenient at worst? No, Hosea explains that our idolatry is equivalent to cheating on our husband with multiple other lovers. Except in this instance it's worse -- way worse -- as God is our faithful and loving husband, and we are the adulterous wife giving herself over to prostitution.

The book of Hosea is probably my favorite book in the Old Testament. Mainly because it has the strongest language concerning the idolatry of Israel and of us even today. Sometimes I need God to make His point loud and clear. And quite honestly, I have a hard time seeing the idols in my life, so Hosea really lays it out for me in a way I can understand. In the book, God makes the prophet Hosea marry a harlot so that he could experience how it feels for God to be married to us. The book gives the picture of an unfaithful wife (Israel in the text, you and me today) continually running away from her husband and after other lovers.

God comes after His bride with discipline and love, in Hosea 2:1-13. Look at the harsh language: the shame of nakedness, slaying her with thirst in a parched desert. Most of the times our idols look like blessings, right? A career, boyfriend or girlfriend, even fulfilling Christian activities, yet God says He will expose all that has the appearance of blessings as a forest the wild animals will devour.  Ouch.

Do we ever really think we'll get to this place? When we go for that next job promotion, how often do we even notice that we are looking to it for the affirmation and acceptance only God can give? Once more, do we really think we are putting ourselves in a position to experience painful thirst, suffering, nakedness, and years of wandering around in the dessert alone?

All the girls at our morning devotional we call "Mug n Muffin"

Before we give in to complete hopelessness, let us remember that God also has tender love for His bride -- Hosea 2:14-23. Isn't this language amazing? He will speak tenderly to her, He will make what was once ruining her, a door of hope. Jesus offers the restoration our hearts are truly longing for. No amount of "free time" and no level of order in my house and life will ever really give me what I'm looking for -- true joy. Only Jesus can give that. He is the living water my soul thirsts for. (John 4:10)

His promise? He will recaptures our hearts. As in all our attempts to find love outside of Him, the adulterous wife cannot find real love in the idols she is chasing. She will go back to her husband, not begrudgingly, or because she has found something newer to satisfy her lust, but out of repentance (turning from self and toward God).

"She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.'"
Hosea 2:7

I could go on, but there are far better resources out there for digging out our idols than what I can share. Here are some of my favorites, and the ones I used with these college women. I hope they help you as you seek to uproot the idols in your life and turn face-to-face with Jesus, the REAL lover of your soul.

Diagnosing Our Idols

Tim Keller -- Idols of the Heart