Most people pass off the story of the golden calf as just another example of idol worship or chasing false gods; something we as modern, literate and civilized people would never do. So, the story is skimmed over at best; any hint of relevance shrugged off. Yet, in the middle of a conversation with a friend of a friend who was going through some difficulty in his marriage where an emotional affair had resulted, something was said that gave me pause. My friend said, “this guy’s golden calf was in the words of affirmation he was getting from another woman“.
I thought, what an amazingly appropriate description!
But, let’s recall the story first . . .
Exodus 32 (NKJV)
The Golden Calf
1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
In the opening of Exodus 32, you see a people grown impatient, bored, and lost for direction. After all, the better part of forty days had passed and as far as they knew, their leader had abandoned them. God had abandoned them. They were restless; anxious. They knew they should be doing something. They knew they should be worshiping something; idolizing something. So what did they do?
They turned to comfort.
Before the Exodus, they’d been in Egypt for hundreds of years; immersed in the culture and rituals of the Egyptian people. It’s what they knew. It was tangible and comfortable like a favorite old fluffy blanket that not only wraps you in its warmth; it surrounds you in fond memories and wonderful emotions. A spiritual and emotional hole had been left in their hearts and lives, both in their leadership and their “God”. So, they filled it in the best way they knew. They filled it with something they could see, touch and feel; something to give them what they thought was spiritual, psychological and emotional strength, warmth and comfort.
Thousands of years later, people are still people. Why should we be any different?
When a man doesn’t feel he is made complete, isn’t getting what he thinks he needs either from the woman he supposedly loves or from the God that supposedly loves him, where does he turn? He is inexplicably drawn to the one thing that fulfills those needs. In essence, he makes his own golden calf. He knows he can find it there. He can feel it. It’s tangible, real and comfortable.
I’m not saying it’s right . . . I’m saying it happens.
But you’re not having an affair, right? How does any of this apply to you?
Well . . .
What’s your source of comfort? Fulfillment? Affirmation?
~Is it your family? Your job? That first beer after work?
What gives you confidence?
~Is it the $$ in your paycheck? That perfect shot in golf? “That look” from your wife?
What do you value in your life? In the lives of others?
~Is it the title before or after the name? The amount of debt that’s been paid off? The amount of debt that’s been racked up?
Where do you turn for your sense of self-worth? What “completes” you, as a man, or as a woman?
~Is it your spouse? Your kids? Your hobbies? God?
What’s your “Golden calf”?