Trump’s golden calves (and the rest of his golden body)

Trump’s golden calves (and the rest of his golden body) February 27, 2021

It’s practically a Golden Calf. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is in full swing, and nothing has caused more buzz than the full-size golden statue of Donald Trump, dressed in American flag shorts and flip-flops. (I’m not allowed to steal a photo of this statue to show you, but you can see it here. It’s quite a sight, and it was made in Mexico.)

Honestly, if this statue doesn’t wake conservative Christians up to the idolatry they’re indulging in, nothing will – unless Charlton Heston comes back from the dead and recaps his Moses. That might do it.

Oh, wait. I spoke too soon – check it out. It didn’t work.

This is a come-to-Jesus moment for y’all, conservative, Evangelical Christians. You have a golden statue in front of you. It’s so obvious, you can’t possibly miss it…can you?

I spent most of my life as a conservative, Evangelical Christian. I often wonder, if I hadn’t gotten out around 2014, would the Trump frenzy have caused me to leave? I honestly don’t know. I do know that, as unnerving as it was to leave behind something I’d known all my life, I couldn’t stay with something that I’d seen to be so defective.

I pray that my Evangelical-leaning, pro-Trump readers will courageously open their eyes now, when an almost-literal Golden Calf is staring you in the face.

Once upon a time, there was a Golden Calf

Let’s look at the Golden Calf story in Exodus 32, and see whether a message jumps out at you.

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

This fellow Moses was on Mount Sinai, communing with God, receiving the Ten Commandments that y’all want up on the walls in courtrooms and schools. You know the Israelites should have waited for him to come back. You know they were wrong to give up on a real man of God and choose an imposter. (Is it possible that in our desperation for a godly leader in our country, we’ve done that too? Is it possible that we’ve been demanding something that’s not good for us?)

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

(Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that males among God’s chosen people wore earrings.) These people – unenlightened as they were – were so desperate for something to believe in, that they handed over their valuables for use in a hare-brained scheme. (Hopefully, you weren’t among the thousands of donors to Trump’s most recent fund-raiser – or his past fund-raisers – but can you see that good people’s money was taken from them to create something false, something that many Christians now worship?)

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry…

These people did not question the doctrine of calf-worship. They saw a shiny object, allowed themselves to be mesmerized by a lie, and went to town. (Are we more enlightened? Do we know that false apostles disguise themselves as apostles of Christ (2 Cor 11)? Are we willing to walk away from them when we see them?)

Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”

“Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

Happily, Moses holds Aaron accountable for the trouble, but did you notice how Aaron threw the people under the bus? “They’re so evil, there was no point in even trying to change their minds.” (Are we that evil, that we’ll follow a weak leader and never even question her/him? Or are we astute enough to jump ship when things look suspicious – for example, when a literal Golden Calf is staring us in the face?)

Watch this next part closely:

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. 

Running wild, out of control, laughingstock. Hmmm. And apparently the people are so busy acting out that they haven’t noticed how unseemly their behavior is. Or perhaps they’re drunk on the apparent freedom they have under the care of this new god.

But when Moses calls for the faithful to come out of the camp, some people answer the call. That’s right: some people wake up and smell the manna. No shame in doing so, only God’s pleasure – and they get to kill 3,000 unfaithful Israelites. (Are we among the Levites? Are we willing to walk away from that thing we’ve been worshiping when we see we’ve been wrong? Are we open enough to the Spirit of God to make a 180-degree turn if necessary?)

Eventually, the people must have repented (other than the 3K that were dead) because they got back on the road to the Promised Land, and God agreed to go with them (Exodus 33). But how much better to be a Levite, one that left evil earlier rather than later!

Of course, today we are all Levites – a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). But are we able to recognize that even Levites screw up and need to recalibrate?

More to the point, are we willing to do it?

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Conservative Christians need to outgrow binary thinking

Dear Trump Christians: what in God’s name are you doing?

Conservative Christians: is this who we want to be?

FEATURED IMAGES: “Pot of Gold” by tao_zhyn is licensed under CC BY 2.0“Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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