Kim Kardashian is a potent prophetess for the contemporary pagan worship of Venus. She earns millions serving the goddess of beauty and sex. In 2015 she published a book Selfish, packed with her self-portraits, her very best selfies. A selfie is a photo that one takes of oneself, typically taken with a smart phone and then shared on social media. In 2014 that noble game Scrabble accepted the word.
What can we learn from this popular evangelist for Venus?
To begin with we need to understand her dynamic, pulsating, shameless pagan faith. We live in a society that idealises physical perfection. Many today crave the perfect body which exudes sexual energy, libido and lethal attractiveness. This faith can be traced back to the ancient Greeks who understood their gods to be incredibly hot and insufferably good-looking. Ordinary Greek punters were desperate to imitate Gorgeous Venus and Handsome Mars, the god of war.
So they started the Olympic games. By throwing javelins, discuses and running naked, these novices would start to look like the gods. Achilles was the supreme Greek warrior who most closely resembled the gods. He was the living embodiment of divine perfection. And his dad was Zeus! Achilles and his chums basked in the wondrous glories of their perfect bodily kits. Chiseled chins and six packs were ubiquitous. And, of course, they sacrificed daily to this fetid idol of physical perfection.
Today we are witnessing a revival in this Greek pagan adulation of the body. We need to notice that this pagan revival has dangerous social explosions.
In 2014 Danny Bowman,19, spent ten hours a day taking up to 200 selfies on his smart phone. He dropped out of school, lost two stone trying to look ‘perfect’. Finally in despair, he took an overdose but was saved by his mum. In this mindset individuals are focused on the secular salvation of their bodies. The individual body must be worshipped and appeased. We must sacrifice to this fickle body god.
In short we become desperate slaves to our demanding bodies.
The narrative goes like this: “If my body looks good, I will be saved. I will prosper and find the perfect mate. I will be a winner. If my body looks inferior I will be rejected. I will be a lonely Billy no mates. I will be a loser.”
Ordinary lads like Danny are being discipled by Kim Kardashian and her many celebrity friends who share her tawdry faith in Venus.
Consider the tragic story of Sarah Burge who has spent £500,000 on plastic surgery for herself. She has promised her young daughter, Poppy, that she can have plenty of operations when she is 18! Sarah is living in this dark pagan story. She is desperate to emulate the current canon of beauty and she sacrifices to Venus on a daily basis. She is also discipling her daughter Poppy to follow Venus.
This aggressive pagan faith is nurturing a generation of young people who are filled with shame, anxiety and self-loathing. Discussions about ‘mental health’ completely ignore this.
The elite (Kim et al) can bask in their expressive and costly individualism. They promulgate the gospel of Venus and her five commandments.
- Follow your heart!
- Be physically perfect!
- Indulge your daily craving for outrageous individuality!
- Be uniquely You!
- Shun anyone who challenges your sacred autonomy!
These elite semi-gods (celebrities) spend huge sums of money as they serve the cult of physical perfection. It is a tad ironic that Kim believes she is proclaiming her unique individuality but she is really selling herself as a commodified sex object to be leered at by dodgy geezers. It is vital that we connect this pagan faith to the toxic miseries of so many young people today.
In 2008 a 13 year old girl from Leeds committed suicide because she thought she was ‘fat and ugly’. Do we notice the poison that the worship of Venus brings into our broken world?
Perhaps the most graphic way to understand this unnoticed and unexamined pagan faith is to go on Facebook. On Facebook there is an organization called – “The Overweight Haters Ltd.” Here are some of their catch phrases.
“Our organization hates and resents fat people. We also object that the beautiful pig is used as an insult. You are not a pig. You are a fat ugly human.”
Venus worship divides humanity into two tribes. The ugly damned and the gorgeous saved ones.
I’d like to get a bit personal here. I struggle with my weight and I am no oil painting myself. I’d be delighted if I could lose two stone by shunning cake and pasta. How do I look at my own body? I see my body as a gift from God. I want to worship the Gift-giver and not the gift. I want to renounce any worship or adulation of the body. I also reject the view that the body is inferior and merely a prison for my immortal soul. Another very bad Greek idea. Both these views deny important and very liberating biblical truth.
For God calls me to be a steward of this gift…flab, paunch and all. My body is far from perfect and that’s why I need to go out running three times a week. That’s why I need to cut down on the chocolate and in particular those delicious KitKats you can buy so easily in shops. But my body does not create my identity and my worth. God gives this to me. Yes my body is groaning in the pain and flatulence of living in a broken world. My confident hope is that one day the Lord Jesus will return and fill this broken world with his joy and gladness. I don’t need to take selfies because one day I will enjoy bodily resurrection. I will dance, sing and rejoice clothed in that perfect resurrection body before my King. No shame and no self-worship in the age to come.
If you would like to become more confident and creative in talking about God do consider buying our new RB resource Slave Chronicles and Dangerous Beliefs: Discipling Others Through Creative Storytelling.
This blog post has now been reproduced in The Baptist Times and Youthscape.
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Steve Bishop · September 22, 2021 at 3:04 pm
Thanks for this Mark – very insightful. I particularly liked the five commandments. It sums up much of narcisistic contemporary worldview.
Michael Wagenman · September 23, 2021 at 3:22 pm
Thanks for this Mark! As so many have said, we become like the gods we worship. Lesslie Newbigin put it this way: “The way we understand human life depends on what conception we have of the human story.” Or, as Alasdair MacIntyre put it, “I can only answer the question, ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story do I find myself a part?'” It seems that maybe part of the reclaiming of our embodied existence today comes from the many generations that denigrated the body, calling it simply the shell (or the prison) of the soul. There is a long tradition of viewing the body itself as inherently evil. But, as you’ve pointed out, we’ve swung the pendulum all the way to the other extreme now.
Duncan · September 24, 2021 at 5:16 pm
It is the connection from how idolising body perfection and people young and older hating themselves which is so heartbreaking. So need to know we are made by God and we don’t need a mirror to tell us we are perfect in his sight. We just are ..
Dave Hopwood · September 25, 2021 at 12:00 pm
Thanks mark, so timely and pertinent. There is a lot of reflection going on at the moment around the effects of social media and the like, but still the pressure goes on for folk to aspire to that which only eats us up. In one of his books Pete Greig makes the comment about us trying to fill the gap with stuff that just makes the gap bigger. Thank you for your open-handed way of offering something alternative, something life-giving. In Habakkuk chapter 2 v 14 the writer makes this comment – that the earth will be filled with the awareness of the glory of God. It’s that awareness that we all long for, that we search for with our many attempts, for ourselves and others, to see where true glory lies, and what really makes for peace inside and out. The truth that sets us free from the soul-destroying stresses and destructive peer pressure. Thanks for sharing this Mark. Inspiring.
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