Deflect and Minimize
I said to them, “Let any who have gold take it off.” So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf. Exodus 32:24
When confronted with my toxic behavior, I have a couple of methods I employ to avoid liability. I either deflect responsibility, blaming some force beyond my control, or I minimize my part in the event.
When I lose control and finish off a plate of cookies, the next day, I insist that a cookie thief must have broken into the house. There weren’t that many left anyway. I just had one or two. I just don’t know how ten cookies disappeared. This may be amusing with cookies, but it is less so with my more destructive appetites.
Aaron, in today’s passage, responded similarly when confronted about his calf-idol. The narrative is clear. Aaron made the golden calf, but when Moses demanded an explanation, he blamed the Israelites. You know the people, that they are set on evil (vs. 32:22). Then, he minimized his role in making the calf, suggesting a supernatural phenomenon. This calf just came out of the fire. It was a cow-miracle!
Aaron’s lie must have sounded a lot like my cookie thief excuse. Both were ridiculous efforts to conceal truth and avoid consequence.
We often do this. We want the cookie or the golden calf, but when confronted with the reality of our actions, we do not want the blame. We then deflect fault and minimize our responsibility. There is always some price to pay though, for gratifying the desires of our flesh. This is the nature of instant gratification: There is always some cost later.
Moses did not believe Aaron’s supernatural explanation any more than my family believed my cookie story. We only compound our guilt when we attempt to deflect and minimize. What we must do is acknowledge our sin, accept responsibility and repent. It would be better of course, if we simply counted the cost up front and avoided the cookies or golden calf in the first place.