Does God Use Art as a Language?
(by Ann Boland)
A few nights ago, as I sat for a musical theater production, I thought of how the actors communicated the story throughout the play. How the written script, songs, dance, stage design, and nonverbals carried the audience through an amazing journey. Through each of these ways the audience learned the nature and truth of each character. Amazingly, all this, using THE ARTS! Can and does God use the arts to reveal His nature, truth, and character?
Have you ever heard someone ask, “How does God speak to us?” The book of Genesis tells us how God communicated to Adam and Eve directly, and after the fall God spoke through angels, dreams, visions, and his prophets. Our world continues to hunger for God’s message. How do we learn of God’s nature, truth, and His character? Because He is God, He chooses His timing and how He speak to us.
Art is one of God’s languages that displays these things. In Exodus 31: 2-5
”See I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.” (NKJ)
Art can glorify God, and creatives can bring their God given talents to help us see and understand the nature, truth, and character of God. Art is a language. Who can deny the stirring of our souls when gazing on a painting depicting the crucifixion of Christ, the nativity, the creation of man, or experiencing the overflow of God’s presence in worship through music and dance? The message of the artist glories God and who He is. He is a God of purpose, love, relationship, sacrifice, mercy, forgiveness and so much more. Even in non-religious works the viewer can see God’s handiwork in nature such as the beauty of fall colors spread across a palette, a photograph of a mother holding her newborn child, or the light streaming in from stain glass windows. Horrid acts of war portrayed can drench our souls with sadness and sorrow for the humanity of mankind.
In Isaiah 64:8 “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” What a beautiful and powerful image of God as the potter and we the clay being worked in His hands. So understandable using this artful image that we all can relate to and understand God’s character and our relationship with Him more fully.
The language of art used to communicate in life the nature, truth and character of God gives God the glory in a unique way only artists can do and can speak throughout humanity in all cultures and time.
Prayers for the Sphere of the Arts
(prepared by Lilian Schmid)
Repentance on the Spheres of the Arts and Entertainment
Art and Entertainment should encourage and lift up the souls and minds of people towards God our creator, and encourage natural and healthy living with and respect for all people and the resources of out planet. Ideally artistic and entertainment ‘artefacts’ should also aspire to illustrate spiritual concepts and principles that reflect the love and justice of God towards us humans, and even direct references to Christ Jesus – who is God in the flesh, i.e. as a human.
There is however much produced from the spheres of the Arts and Entertainment which are not uplifting. Not even just there to challenge and question our personal and community failures to submit to God and His perfect will for us. Much material is produced which is purely there to titillate, evoke physical fantasies, and inflame physical desires.
Most human communities used to consider these things as widely ‘taboo’, with either social norms or laws restricting their creation, distribution, and possession, particularly when it is deemed to be ‘pornographic’, ‘immoral’, or ‘obscene’. In recent times these (at least) public limitations have been eroded in the West, and many other countries, in the name of ‘liberty’, ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’. The common situation is now that any person or group who objects to these former ‘taboos’ in any way is considers to be ‘out-of-touch’, ‘prejudiced’, and even ‘hateful’, and may be subjected to legal prosecution and imprisonment.
This is is spite of clear medical and psychological evidence which shows how addictive and unhealthy it is, but this evidence is of course suppressed as ‘unpopular’ and ‘regressionist’. God also has warned us of the consequences when we stray from His loving design for our human bodies and relationships.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness … even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their senseless hearts were darkened … For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions … committing shameful acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Romans 1:18,21,26-27)
Art and Entertainment has been extensively used to introduce and reinforce corruptive sexual ideas, often reflecting and emulating ancient idolatry.
- Artistic freedom
- LGBT movies and art
- Dionysism art
- Erotic comics
- Erotic fetish art
- Erotic photography
- Erotic pinup art
- Golden Age of Porn
- History of erotic depictions
- I Modi
- Lesbian erotica
- Nudity in art
- Sex in advertising
- Sex in films
- Khajuraho Group of Monuments
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)
“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:25)
“But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:21-23)
“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5)
“Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit … Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31-32)
“But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13)
“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38)
We repent Lord of pornography, anarchy, nudity, and ungodly descriptions which have infiltrated in the past and post-modern Arts and Entertainment spheres.
We take authority in Jesus name to shut all satanic portals that are trying to occupy the mind of Artists, trying to lure the young generation into these false fantasies and they are bringing the work of the devil into the spheres of the Arts and Entertainment.
We repent on all the above activities, and also for all people who are involved in drugs, alcohol and sexually immoral activities in the spheres of the Arts and Entertainment.
Our God, we are sorry for our sins with all our hearts,
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do what is right,
We have sinned against you whom we should love above all things,
We firmly intend, with Your help, to stop all evil plans in our lives, in the lives of all artists and people in the entertainment business.
Forgive us Lord and have mercy on us.
Pray for People in the Art Industry
Please uphold all areas of the Arts in your prayers while meditating on the scriptures below.
“You alone are the LORD.
You have made the heavens,
The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it,
The seas and all that is in them.
You give life to all of them,
And the heavenly host bows down before You.”
“‘For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,’ declares the LORD.
‘But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit,
and who trembles at My word.’” (Isaiah 66:2)
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
God of creation, all-powerful, all-wise,
Lord of the universe, rich with surprise,
Maker, Sustainer, and Ruler of all,
We are your children – you hear when we call.
God of the ages, through time’s troubled years,
You are the one in whom history coheres.
Nations and empires your purpose fulfill,
Moving in freedom, yet working your will.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”
(from Prayers of Our Heart by Vienna Cobb Andersen)
Bless the creators, O God of creation,
who by their gifts make the world a more joyful and beautiful realm.
Through their labours they teach us to see more clearly the truth around us.
In their inspiration they call forth wonder and awe in our own living.
In their hope and vision they remind us that life is holy.
Bless all who create in your image, O God of creation.
Pour your Spirit upon them
that their hearts may sing and their works be fulfilling.
I will build you up again,
and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt.
Again, you will take up your timbrels
and go out to dance with the joyful.
Prayer for Church Musicians and Artists
(from The Book of Common Prayer)
O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven:
Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music
to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth
and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty,
and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All God’s Creation is Art
All of God’s creation is miraculous. God’s initial action in the creation of the cosmos was miraculous. And all he has made continues to be marvellous in its diversity, complexity, and function. If we truly believe in God’s providence through his continual action of creation, we have no choice but to be continually in awe. We need to give recognition to who he is as a creator and sustainer. It is an act of worship. It is hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting God’s expression of himself and then responding with our deep attention, appreciation, and engagement.
Praying with Art
“Eye has not seen; ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love him” based on 1 Corinthians 2:9. When we pray, we close our eyes to see the beauty of God’s creation. For hundreds of years, the Church used painting, sculpture, stained glass, and sacred architecture to inspire and instruct. The role of the Arts in supporting these functions was crucial in times when vast numbers of people were illiterate.
St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola recommend a form of meditation wherein the person praying imagines him or herself immersed in the scene with God.
Music in the Bible
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.