Covetousness and idolatry

Covetousness and idolatry September 11, 2015

In our Bible class last Sunday, in which we are studying the hymns of Martin Franzmann, this Scriptural text came up:

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:5).

The question arose, in what sense is someone who is covetous also an idolater?  Think about that.  After the jump, I’ll tell you the quite illuminating explanation given by my son-in-law, Rev. Ned Moerbe.

Covetousness, according to Rev. Moerbe, is wanting what is not ours.  That is, it is the desire for something that God has not given us.  When we want a spouse other than the one God has given us–or a house or a servant or an animal or “anything that is your neighbor’s–we are showing that we are not satisfied with God’s gifts.  We are not trusting that God will provide for us what we need.  We want something different.   Covetousness is thus a failure of faith.  Instead of depending on God, we look to something else to provide our happiness, putting our faith in that instead.  And putting our faith in some false god in a man-made religion, especially as manifested in some created object, is idolatry.
Bonus question:  We enter the Kingdom of God by faith.  This text says that covetousness is not just rule-breaking, but a failure of faith.  How is sexual immorality, as described here, also a failure of faith?
This is Law, of course, but it leads to the Gospel in the rest of Ephesians 5, which begins St. Paul’s profound teachings on vocation (husbands and wives, parents and children, employers and employees).  How does Ephesians 5:5 relate to vocation?

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