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Why does the Church use statues and icons? | WHY

February 2, 2023

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You were never meant to be a purely spiritual creature. God has used and will use physical signs to point to his presence — even statues and icons! Check out how God has used these images throughout salvation history and consider how God can draw you closer to his presence through the images you might find at your parish.


Why does the Church use statues and icons especially when it’s in the Ten Commandments to not make for yourself a Graven image?

To really understand this, we need to look at the Incarnation, which I think is the most scandalous Doctrine in Christianity. Many people think the crucifixion and death and the Eucharist are more scandalous but those were only made possible once God took flesh. 

Every single Christological heresy says either Jesus Is God but not really a man or Jesus’s man but not really God. We are scandalized that Jesus is both. We are scandalized at Divinity and humanity actually touch, that the spiritual and the physical meets. But they do. Jesus was born a man. He walked this Earth. People heard him speak. He shook hands. He slept. He ate. Whenever he healed, there was some kind of physical action that went along with it. Jesus gave up his Spirit and when he rose from the dead, he took his physical body with him. C.S Lewis once said, “There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. He likes matter he invented it.” God has been working through matter for thousands of years ever since he invented it. Why would he decide to change up his strategy now? Soon after God gives the Ten Commandments, he orders Moses to make statues of cherubim. Still later, God tells Moses to make a bronze serpent which the Israelites must look upon to be healed. So God is not against making graven images. He is against making graven images to be worshiped. Catholics do not worship statues and icons. We have them in our churches and homes the same way people display pictures of their family. A man doesn’t really think that picture is his family but that picture reminds him of his family so too Catholics don’t really think a statue is God but using matter it draws our minds to God and that’s not a bad place for our minds to be. 

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