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What Does the Bible Say About...Religious Pictures or Symbols?

Could you tell me if there are any verses forbidding having pictures of Jesus, Mary, St Francis and other religious art in your home or garden, as long as they are NOT WORSHIPPED? Also, it is WRONG to wear a cross necklace or to put the "fish"--(icthus) sign on your car? These questions, of course, are pertaining to what the church of Christ has to say and if there are any Biblical reasons not to---(I know about the graven image verses in the Old Testament)...Thanks...


I can not answer for what the church of Christ has to say about this issue, as neither I nor any man can speak for the churches of Christ, but only the scriptures can do so. Each congregation of the church is independent of others, and each member within each congregation may have differing views about this question. I will give you mine.

Of course, it would be difficult to have pictures of Jesus or Mary in your home or garden, other than some man's representation made hundreds of years after their death. Most of the pictures I've seen from the Middle Ages or Renaissance are probably totally inaccurate as to what Jesus would have looked like. And I can really think of no reason to have a picture of Mary or of a preacher. But that does not make it wrong. I could just as easily have a picture of Cleopatra or Hitler. To say it would be wrong to have a picture of someone in your house or garden would require that it be wrong for any picture, not just of a medieval preacher or the mother of a family of first century kids which included Jesus. The problem is that I could say I hung a picture of Hitler just because it was a picture and I had no respect for the man. The logical question is why I would have hung a picture of that particular individual. Usually the pictures we have show whom we respect or revere. To have a representation of Mary or Francis of Assisi would then beg the question why you would have their representations; why you worship them to at least a small degree.

The arguments for or against wearing a cross or a fish are slightly different. Few people would ever seriously question whether we worship a cross or a fish, even if they would question whether we worshipped an individual whose picture we owned. The cross, the fish, the Star of David, the crescent, the skull and crossbones, all are symbols of who we are, not items to be worshipped. I can find no scripture that forbids particular items of clothing, per se. There are scriptures on modesty and not letting our apparel overshadow our lives (1 Tim 2:9; 1 Peter 3:3). But wearing a cross or having a fish symbol on your car is in essence no different from wearing a wedding ring. One symbolizes that its wearer is married; the other symbolizes that its wearer is a Christian. In both cases, we shouldn't need the symbol. Our lives should reveal who we are without it, but wearing the symbol makes clear how we identify ourselves. I know of no scripture that would forbid wearing such symbols.

Thank you for some excellent questions.