Decapitating the Serpent

Decapitating the Serpent

Part of me wants to smile a bit when I think about a statue to Satan being torn down and decapitated because my heart rejoices in the defeat of the devil. This urge, though, must be tempered with truth, the truth that toppling a ridiculous display doesn’t do anything to defeat the devil. It’s at best a symbolic gesture of someone who professes to oppose evil. For those who are interested in seeing the souls of men saved and Christ truly glorified, our hearts must yearn for more than symbolic gestures. We should long for the true defeat of the devil by the power of God. 

Earlier this month, a man named Michael Cassidy allegedly tore down and beheaded a statue erected by the Satanic Temple in the Iowa state capitol. He reportedly took this action because “it was extremely anti-Christian.” Later, he posted a quote of 1 Peter 5:8 to his X feed, where the apostle exhorts Christians to “be on the alert” because our “adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (NASB).

Many Christians and politically conservative individuals have hailed Cassidy’s actions as ‘brave,’ applauding him for taking a stand against the evil that has infected our nation. People are exhausted by the constant onslaught of wickedness that occurs in our nation day after day, and to see someone fighting so publicly against Satan and satanism feels very refreshing. Such a bold protest, even if illegal, seems laudatory because, after all, it is opposition to evil. As Christians, however, we would do well to allow our passions to simmer and to think through this situation biblically in order to exercise wisdom and discernment in our fight against the powers of darkness. Is tearing down a statue really a biblical way to oppose evil, and a path that Christians should choose, or even celebrate?

To be clear: all statues that represent objects of worship are evil. The Old and New Testaments state that all forms of idolatry are an abomination to the Lord. Whether a statue is meant to symbolize Zeus, Satan, or even Yahweh (see Exodus 32 and the golden calf), such images are forbidden by the law of God and amount to idol worship. Christians should recognize that all forms of idolatry are detestable in God’s sight. Furthermore, Scripture tells us that all idols are demonic in character. Paul told the Corinthians that people who offer sacrifices to idols actually offer sacrifices to demons. Idols, in and of themselves, are nothing (1 Corinthians 10:19-20). Idols can’t speak, see, hear, smell, feel, walk, or talk (Psalm 115:4-7). The statues are empty and powerless. Nevertheless, behind all idolatrous worship, we find demonic powers. These demonic powers seek to destroy the souls of men and constantly assault the glory of Christ.

Christians, therefore, should oppose idolatry and the demonic powers it represents out of love for and loyalty to Christ our Lord. How should we do so? Do we oppose idolatry by destroying statues of Satan, demons, or false gods?

In the Old Testament, we find several examples that might provide biblical warrant for such actions against images and idols. For example, after the golden calf incident in Exodus 32, Moses burned the idol, ground it to powder, scattered it over the water, and made Israel drink the remnants (Exodus 32:20). A few chapters later, Yahweh commanded Israel to tear down the altars and idols of the foreign gods of the Canaanites (Exodus 34:13). In Judges 6, the angel of Yahweh came to Gideon and commanded him to tear down the altar of Baal and the Asherah (a false god’s image) next to it. God expressly commanded people in the Old Testament to destroy idols and images, and those who were faithful to Yahweh did so to honor Him.

New covenant believers might conclude from these examples that we should follow suit. God is still outraged by idolatrous worship and statues that dishonor Him, and such images are still worthy of being destroyed. As believers, some might therefore conclude, we should still destroy them when we have a chance to do so. However, there are some clues in the OT and the NT that the way we destroy idolatrous worship is different today than it was in the OT.

Many of the events we read about in the OT were of a typological nature, representing something greater that would occur in the NT. In the passages that relate to the destruction of idols, we see this typology at work.

Read More

Scroll to top