​The Underappreciated Difference Between Idol Worship and Respect

There is a big difference between respecting and feeling grateful for someone being in your life and worshiping them. Very, very different dynamics between the two that are patently underappreciated. The former should be obvious, but the later is not so obvious since so many of us worship people without realizing what we are doing. People we worship can be celebrities, politicians, pastors, priests, missionaries, rich families, ministers, health practitioners, spiritual gurus, teachers, parents, doctors, law enforcement, military, Facebook admin, supervisors, managers, or popular people who have a following.

Idol worship involves the dehumanization of a person. Let’s say you worship Person X. Here’s what that will look like:

—Everything Person X says is correct.
—If someone is saying something bad about Person X, I will give them a guilt trip.
—Person X can do no wrong.
—Person X is doing something wrong in front of me, but I look the other way or find some justification for it.
—I never question Person X and neither should you.
—I change my behavior to get approval from Person X.
–I compliment them excessively

Worship might happen on an unconscious level. Very few will admit they do it. We might not realize it when we are doing it. It might come from blindly or partially protecting and defending our own abusers growing up because it’s better to worship our abusers than to face the reality of what they did to us or face the possibility that we were unloved. That’s so scary, so we create an imaginary world where instead of feeling how we REALLY feel about our abusers, we create a world where they are dream-like holy beings. We might carry this coping mechanism into adulthood as a means of burying all the rage and terror we feel about our childhood abusers.

When you respect someone, you see them as your equal, a fellow humble human like you are. We can take off or loosen our masks around them. We don’t fear them. We have a balanced view of them and see their humanness, their flaws, etc. This is healthy while worship phenomena might be a means of escaping (partially or fully) repressed trauma from childhood.

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