This past weekend really had me thinking more than usual about idol worship. Yes, idol worship has been the focus of devotions we’ve been having with our son, Joshua, for the last two weeks, but the weekend brought idols in my face personally. The observation of Halloween on the 31st and my 20 year anniversary of being a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Inc. on Nov. 1st had me examine how I have placed the culture above Christianity and thus above God.
Halloween has always been a bit spooky for me so when I found out the demonic roots of this “fun day” for children I didn’t have a problem declaring that mine wouldn’t participate. This was easy when Joshua was younger and being homeschooled. He didn’t recognize the bombardment of the day so the allure was minimal. But this is the first year in public school so his awareness heightened. After learning that witches and goblins are not just harmless fun and don’t give glory to God, Joshua began saying “Halloween is fun” and “I want candy.” We had to re-explain that Halloween is not simple fun but a passive way of glorifying evil and that we could buy him candy. We had to re-teach how God can protect us—just like he did the three Hebrew boys—when we go counter culture. That’s why he couldn’t wear a Halloween costume to school or participate in the Halloween party. And while this was a tough stance, we had to teach him this while he was young so his heart would be less likely to wrench at age 40, when I’ve had to somewhat reluctantly part with my once beloved AKA.
Twenty years ago I pledged the sorority that I had known for a lifetime. My mother was a 37-year member of the group that always exemplified true sisterhood. She and her contemporaries never failed to support each other through illness and death, be it a loss of a loved one, a job or one’s mind. They worked tirelessly to improve the community and were there for times of much-needed fellowship. I wanted this, and, for the most part, got this during my experience but didn’t realize until a few years ago the price I was paying to love AKA deep in my heart.
One morning I went to grab my AKA necklace, but my power to reach the necklace left me. As I tried to reach it, I was met with a force field that prevented my advancement. Standing perplexed and impotent, my sorority’s pledge came to my mind: “To thee, O Alpha Kappa Alpha, we pledge our hearts, our minds, our strength, to foster thy teachings and obey thy laws and make thee supreme in service to all mankind. O Alpha Kappa Alpha, we greet thee.” Though I had said this pledge hundreds of times and in later years in the sorority started to feel weird about personifying AKA, that day I recognized why. This pledge was an offshoot of Mark 12:20 that commands how Christians are to love God: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment.”
The writer of our pledge, though well meaning I’m sure, seemed to be equating the sorority with God. Perhaps she wanted to convey the deep commitment members should have for this illustrious group or the grand place that the sorority should have in our lives. I don’t know, but what I do know is that God says “thou should have no other gods before me.” And with the central focus of AKA in my life and the revelation of our pledge, I realized that I had a god—an idol, that needed to be cast down. This was three years ago. So for me, this year of my 20th anniversary, my sorority reflections are bittersweet. I don’t deny the fellowship or the good AKA does in the world, but I have come to realize that I must deny my commitment to a group that I once allowed to become an idol in my life. This hasn’t been easy and many don’t understand my new stance, but I know that I have to be true to my conviction. Not doing so is denying God’s tug on my heart and Him the place that only He should have.
Copyright 2009 by Rhonda J. Smith