A preacher I know, (Rev. Mickey Anders,) gave an illustration of a modern form of protest, by explaining that there were those people who are actively concerned about saving endangered species, who will sometimes come to public meetings and “peacefully disrupt” the proceedings – simply to focus attention on a very serious problem caused by human negligence. Through bad resource management, humans have succeeded in destroying the natural habitat of many species of birds and animals.
Jesus encountered a situation that was somewhat similar (by analogy). When he saw the money-changers threatening the “natural habitat” of worship, he became angry with a holy anger. Between the smell of the animals, the arguing over the rate of money exchange, the encroachment into worship space, and the noisy crowd, all meaningful worship was seriously threatened. The setting for worship was under attack, and this is what made Jesus angry. Our “worship habitat” in our parish churches, is also somewhat threatened? Has our “worship space” lost its “natural habitat” that is helpful to meaningful worship? Has “too much art” become a distraction, where even “THE” sign of our Christianity (i.e., the Crucifix) has many times disappeared? Or, is church art a helpful aid to proper worship? These are things we must all weigh carefully and resolve appropriately.
Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But Christians must always remember that representational artwork confirms the mysteries of our faith, such as the Incarnation, and confirms the Gospel preaching. Sacred art is only true when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying the mystery of God. Stained glass windows are particularly effective in confirming Gospel preaching.
Anything that does not conform to the truth of faith and the authentic beauty of sacred art needs to be removed, and anything that distracts or detracts from worship falls into that category.