Is Art a Sin?

“Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:”  - Exodus 20:4

When read alone, the second commandment (above) sounds like a commandment against making art.  I have heard people against Christian art use this commandment to try to make their case. I know that there are even some faith based artists who have concerns that they are violating the second commandment.

God is the Creator, and He created us in His own image, therefore we are created with the inherent gift of being creative.  It is in our nature to want to make art, but the gift can be used for both good and bad.  So is making art a sin?

It depends.  Are you creating something to be worshiped?  If so, then yes it is a sin.  Are you creating something to reveal truth or glorify God?  In that case probably not.  It really all depends on the choices of the artist.

Good Reasons to Create:  To convey truth; to make emotional connections with the viewer; to tell a story; to represent complex ideas or moral principles, (Allegory;) and of course to bring glory to God.  Art can be used as a visual aid to help people understand and connect to something bigger than ourselves.  Used for these reasons, even with a secular perspective, art is usually not a sin.

Sinful Reasons to Create:  To have an object to be worshiped; to replace God with an image; to glorify one's self; to conceal truth; to fabricate a lie; to glorify other sin, (pornography, violence, blasphemy.)  These, and any other sinful motivations, would make art a sin.

Even when the artist has no sinful intentions with the art, the collector still may.  To worship any art is a sin, to pray to any artwork or sculpture is a sin.  To value something created, higher than you value life, is a sin.  But to appreciate art is not a sin.

The second commandment is not against making art, it is against making idols.  So is art a sin?  That is all up to you and what you do with it.

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