Human beings instinctively are worshiping creatures. Generally speaking, if a person does not worship God, he will worship something else. It could be the sun, a tree, money, or self. Human degeneracy knows no limit.
The apostle Paul addressed the issue in the opening segment of his epistle to the saints in Rome. He pointed out that the Creator made his existence known in the wonderful, obviously designed elements of the universe, and that those who reject that evidence are without excuse (Romans 1:20).
The apostle further observed that many have refused to glorify God and become vain in their reasoning, with their “senseless” hearts being darkened. They even exchange the worship of the Creator for that of various “creatures,” such as men, birds, beasts, and even creeping things (vv. 21-25). Verses 18-25 constitute a dramatic commentary on the wrath of God with reference to such practices.
The Hindu religion is known for its worship of animals, e.g., cattle, and even snakes. For example, Nag-Panchami is a Hindu festival associated with snake worship. Snake “gods” are offered gifts of milk and incense to help the worshiper to gain knowledge, wealth, and fame.
A United Press International news story recently reported an event that is as bizarre as anything I have heard. According to the article, a Hindu woman fell in love with a cobra. The cobra has its den in an anthill in India’s Orissa state, near where the woman lives. She had visited the site frequently and provided milk for the reptile, placing it near the anthill. Eventually the snake would slither out and drink; thus was born a romance.
An elaborate wedding ceremony was arranged with some 2,000 celebrants in attendance. (We are informed neither when nor how the groom proposed, though we are told the snake did return her affection.) The lady, Miss Bimbala Das, was adorned in a silk saree for the ceremony. Miss Das is a member of the Vaishnav sect (animal-loving, vegetarians), and she had obtained permission to marry the cobra from the local elders of that Hindu group. Miss Das claimed the snake had healed her of a serious illness; hence she fell in love with the creepy creature.
Unfortunately, the “groom” did not show up for the wedding. Perhaps he got “antsy.” At any rate, necessity became the mother of innovation and so, hastily, a brass snake replica was obtained as a substitute for Mr. Cobra, who doubtless had prenuptial jitters. The ceremony was conducted, therefore, with the bridegroom in abscentia.
According to the news report, Miss Das’ mother was quite happy about the entire affair since she had been “looking for a cheap deal for her aging daughter.” Subsequent to the ceremony, Miss Das (rather, Mrs. Cobra) constructed a hut near the anthill to await her husband, should he venture forth. The report that someone sent the couple a set of monogrammed towels, respectively inscribed Hers and Hiss, has not been confirmed.
It is very difficult not to see some humor in this, as indeed Isaiah did when he spoke of the man who cut down a tree, burned part of it in a fire, and with the residue made a god to worship (Isaiah 44:12-17). In reality, it reflects a most tragic circumstance.
It illustrates, in a painful way, how very far away from God a culture can depart when knowledge of Creator is abandoned and the human worship-urge is satisfied on the basest level imaginable. Paul uses strong language to depict such matters — vain (without result), senseless (void of understanding), and dark (bereft of spiritual light).