Christian Travel: Am I Sinning if I’m Visiting Other Religious Shrines and Temples?
Warning to readers: This blog is written from a religious and personal point of view. So, read at your own risk!
From holiday romances to luxury expedition voyages, traveling is now a trend. People are constantly looking for new experiences, meet new people, change environments and escape their daily routines. So, each year comes a time when many start planning their vacations.
India, China, Japan, Korea and Thailand are among the most visited countries because of their cultural heritage. People want to learn more about their traditions, wonderful art and exquisite history. A round of applause for you who are thoughtful to actually want to learn about the cultures and customs of other countries. But, what if you are a Christian and you are someone who takes your faith seriously?
The above-mentioned countries are unbeatable when it comes to shrines and temples. And, they say it’s a must to visit these sacred places if you want to witness the fascinating cultures and magnificent architectures of these countries. But, by visiting such places, as a Christian, would you be comprising your beliefs?
Is It Permissible?
Sometimes, it’s normal to let the tourist, the artist or even the wanderlust control in you flow and travel to all kinds of places, without being spiritually concerned. Personally, before I indulge myself in any activity, I try to remember the Bible verse that says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17).”
The answer to this important question is defined by the dividing line between conservative and liberal Christians.
This movement attempts at interpreting Biblical teachings by also taking into consideration the modern world, modern principles, science and ethics.
From this perspective, some would say that since Jesus said, “Love your neighbor”, you have to be kind even to non-believers. For instance, if your friend or a local person brought you to a temple, you can visit the place just to please that person. You are not doing anything wrong. You are just being a polite tourist who is not making a huge fuss about imposing your beliefs on the host country and its cultures. Some would consider this sign of respect, maturity and understanding as a good testimony for Christians when being overseas.
I don’t know if I can term myself as a “conservative” Christian, but if you visited a foreign shrine and actually bowed and prayed to the gods, I believe you sinned and yes, in that sense, I might belong to the Christian Right.
If it’s a part of a work/school project or even for a personal cultural interest, you may visit shrines and temples. But, bowing, bell ringing and praying would go against Bible teachings.
Maybe the following verses can refresh your memory:
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
– From Deuteronomy 5:7 / Exodus 20:3
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
– From 1 Corinthians 10:14
“The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.”
-From Jeremiah 7:18
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
– From John 4:24
To help you better understand the answer, I would like you to remember what Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did when the King Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to bow down to the gold statue. They chose to be thrown into a hot furnace rather than forsaking their God and breaking His commandments.
Today, you might not be thrown into a fiery pit or a lion’s den, but I’m sure, as a Christian, you know where you stand, if you choose to honor a country’s culture or a group of people rather than honoring the clear commandments of God.
Now, I think you know the answer to the question!