In this day and age this question may seem moot, but it is not. Whether we are talking about a literal idol before which people bow or a metaphorical idol like wealth, fame, beauty and so on, idolatry is alive and well!
Attempting to justify the practice some point to Scriptures like II Kings 5:18 as proof texts. In this text it may appear at first glance that the Navi (prophet) is giving permission to worship Ba'al Rimmon due to extenuating circumstances. This is not the case.
II Kings 5:18 For this thing may Adonai forgive your servant; when my master comes to Beth-Rimmon to prostrate himself there, and he leans on my hand, and I will prostrate myself in Beth-Rimmon; when I bow in Beth-Rimmon, may Adonai forgive your servant for this thing."
A more careful reading reveals the truth however. Na'aman, the commander of the king of Aram's army, was not "bowing before Ba'al Rimmon" in worship! Such would have been unthinkable to him. Let's read the text again carefully.
II Kings 5:18 For this thing may Adonai forgive your servant; when my master comes to Beth-Rimmon ["House of the god Rimmon"] to prostrate himself there, and he leans [Hebrew: shaw-an: for support] on my hand, and I will prostrate [Hebrew: shaw-khaw: to be pressed down] myself in Beth-Rimmon; when I bow in Beth-Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this thing."
If you have ever assisted an elderly or disabled person to walk and bend you will understand that to support the person your body must conform to his/hers: when the person bends so do you in order to maintain support. When his master bowed before Ba'al Rimmon the servant's body had to follow suit. That's what this says.
Understanding that bowing before a Pagan god is a serious offense the servant was correctly concerned that it might appear he was bowing with his master before the Pagan image when "he leans on my hand." As a servant the man had no choice but to assist his master, indeed under the circumstances it was a great honor, but he was not himself bowing down to the ba'al, even though it might look that way.
HaShem knows our hearts, our intentions, our consciousness. This is what Rav Paul explains in his teaching on Messianic kashrut at I Corinthians 8:4.
Nonetheless, Torah is clear:
Exodus 20:3 You are to have no other gods but me.
The servant was not worshiping Ba'al or the prophet certainly would have condemned the act and corrected the man.
20:4 You are not to make an image or picture of anything in heaven or on the earth or in the waters under the earth:
20:5 You may not go down on your faces before them or give them worship: for I, the Lord your God, am a God who will not give his honour to another; and I will send punishment on the children for the wrongdoing of their fathers, to the third and fourth generation of my haters;
Related questions arise every now and then:
Should an invited authentic Messianic Jew attend or serve in a friend's wedding that is held in a Christian church, a Hindu temple and so on?
Such questions are sometimes difficult for people to decide. We do not wish to dishonor loved ones nor HaShem. Some people answer these questions by citing this verse: Yes, they say, you can engage in false worship for such reasons..."
Should we attend funerals in such places or in places where we are reasonable sure anti-Torah teachings will be shared? "Our brother is in Heaven now with Jesus..."
Should an authentic Messianic Jew drive and/or escort an elderly parent or disabled loved one to Easter Mass, to the churchyard grave of a loved etc?
WRONG answer! Under no circumstances are we allowed to bow before idols or worship other gods!
Or sometimes the answer is NO!
Meshiykhiyyim may NEVER step foot inside the religious shrines, churches, temples etc of other religions. many Orthodox Jews are quite adamant on this.
Both views are incorrect when the teachings of the Bible rightly divided with Reforms of Rebbe Y'shua (II Timothy 2:15). There are times when we as Meshiykhiyyim not only may enter these place, there are times we SHOULD do so!
We are to honor our parents and to assist them as can. This is commanded and emphasized in Torah (Deuteronomy 5:16)! Of course we can escort them to their religious services as loyal children, even as Naaman assisted the king in going to his "church." Likewise we may attend weddings, funerals, and so on, even Christenings! These are important life marks to people. We should demonstrate our love.
IF we do so with the correct consciousness. We are called to live as spiritual adults, not to be in fear of things that have no power (I Corinthians 8:4).
We may attend and even participate to show support for our loved ones in what matters to them. We do not have to share their doctrinal understandings of the event, we love and support them at people.
We may not however engage in their religious practices. Sometimes this posses no problem, sometimes it does. It is best to openly discuss these issues ahead of time with openness and respect.
For instance, when walking into a Hindu mandir (temple) we can not take amrit (a ritual liquid) nor make dandavat (bow). Likewise in Christian churches we would not take "holy water," genuflect (bow) nor make the sign of the cross. We could arguably cover our head if entering a Sikh gurdwara (since male Jews are to do that anyway -- its optional for female Jews). If its not offensive to our hosts for us to simply enter the building there's no worries. Likewise we would not take part in their songs, prayers, etc. as a general rule of thumb (some Meshiykhiyyim feel that taking part in Christian hymns and songs is fine as long as they are doctrinally sound). We simply would not take part in activities that Torah forbids nor imply our acceptance of other gods. We're there for our loved ones only.
Each Messianic Jew or Noahide must determine where the various lines are to be drawn. As is so often the case, we seek balance and peace.