In the New Testament Yeshua (Jesus) said: “I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it” (Matt. 5:17). In the Torah, G*g said: “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female . . .” (Deuteronomy 4:15-16). So how can it be that Christians go to churches having idols, and then pray to them? As you know, statues are only statues, they cannot hear you pray! So why does Christianity have statues?
In answering the question, we shall first see what the Catholic Church teaches about the role of statues in worship and prayer and then look at what God says. First, let me say that the historic Catholic teaching of what it means to become a Christian and what it means to live as a Christian differs from the evangelical understanding of Jesus’ teachings.
Catholic Church Position
Here is a statement about Exodus 20:4-5 from the Roman Catholic Church.
They do not forbid images of Christ and the saints. But to make and honor the images of Christ our Lord, of His Holy and virginal Mother, and of the saints, all of whom were clothed with human nature and appeared in human form, is not only not forbidden by this Commandment, but has always been deemed a holy practice . . . This position is confirmed by the monuments of the Apostolic age, the General Councils of the Church, and the writings of so many among the Fathers, eminent alike for sanctity and learning, all of whom are of one accord upon this subject. (The Roman Catechism)
This answers your question, “Why do Christians (Catholic people mostly) bow to statues? Those who honor statues do not look to the scriptures for the basis of their practices, They depend on non-scriptural reasons – human wisdom.
The scriptures since the Ten Commandments, have made it clear that God does not want us to make images or idols of anything.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. (NASB) Exodus 20:4
We usually miss the next phrase “any likeness . . .” of anything. The point we miss the most often is not that we are not to worship idols, but that we are not even to make these things. We are not to make an image of anything – a person or a “saint” for the purposes of “veneration” or worship. I believe that is one reason why God did not allow the Israelites to see God in any way. That is the message of Deuteronomy 4:15-16.
So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female. (NASB) Deuteronomy 4:15-16
Idols are nothing. They are not gods (Acts 19:26). They do not speak. They do not hear. They do not see. They do nothing!
To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, A goldsmith plates it with gold, And a silversmith fashions chains of silver. He who is too impoverished for such an offering Selects a tree that does not rot; He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman To prepare an idol that will not totter. (NASB) Isaiah 40:18-20
The message is clear. God does not want us making images for “veneration” or worship – period. We are not to worship images or pray before them. An image is an image – saint or no saint.
The manufacture of images for the purpose of worshipping them is sin. God is not interested in images. He wants our holiness, our love and our faith. In Isaiah 53:1-12 we see that God wants us to believe Him. To believe Him about His Righteous One – the Messiah!
Who has believed our message? . . . As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities . . . And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many (NASB) Isaiah 53:1, 11-12
For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. (NASB) Psalms 16:10
We are to worship Him – Jesus for he is God.