The Bible commands the use of graven
images in worship
Now I know your friend will quote the Ten Commandments and claim they forbid the making of graven images, but let's look to see what they really say:
Exodus 20:3-5 "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;"
Deut. 5: "Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee [any] graven image, [or] any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me,"
The whole point here is that we can't make statues to worship them as "gods" not that we cannot make a statue of anything or even use statues in worship. A photograph is a graven image. Any carving is a graven image. People who oppose statues for use in worship have pictures of their mothers or spouses. These same people make statues to honor presidents, generals, etc.--almost everybody but the saints in heaven. They even even have images of dead politicians on their money. How do we know this interpretation is correct? Because God cannot contradict Himself and just five short chapters after God first gives the 10 Commandments to Moses He commands Moses to make two huge statues on angels to put on the mercy seat of the Ark, which is the center of their worship. Angels certainly were a "likeness of that which is heaven above."
Exodus 25:18-19 "And thou shalt make two cherubims [of] gold, [of] beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: [even] of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof."
In Numbers 21, the people were being bitten by serpents and dying. Moses prayed for the people but that wasn't enough. God commanded Moses to make a graven image-- a brass serpent (the people were accusing God of evil so they had to look at a image of the devil himself). In order to live the people had to look at the brass image of the serpent. Some people will say that Moses sinned here. That is impossible because God commanded Moses to do this and God does not command sin.
Numbers 21:8-9 "And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."
In the New Testament Jesus uses this image to point to His
own sacrifice on the cross.
John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:"
God commanded Solomon to build the temple. In the temple there were tens of thousands of statues including cherubim, palm trees, flowers, pomegranates, lilies, lions, oxen. I don't have time to go into all of the statues because there were so many. But you can read about this in 1 Kings 6-9. There were statues of things in heaven, in the earth, and in the waters beneath the earth if you get my point. The Lord commanded Solomon to do this. Afterwards God said it was good and that God had hallowed this house and told Solomon to keep His commandments. Solomon had not disobeyed God by building the temple with tens of thousands of statues, no God commanded this.
1 Kings 9:3-7 "And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, [and] wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. [But] if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments [and] my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:"
Now perhaps someone will bring up the fact that the serpent that Moses was eventually destroyed when the Israelites fell into idolatry and began to worship it as a god. This is true, we read about this in 2 Kings 18:4. We would destroy any statue if people began to worship it as a god, but what does this show us? It shows us that the Israelites were able to keep this statue for hundreds of years before anyone had a problem with it. It wasn't the statue that was wrong but rather the Israelites had picked up the habits of the people surrounding them!