Hey, Ma! There’s a Golden Calf… In the Living Room!

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 Many years ago, in a land far away, there was a people claimed by the Lord of Heaven’s Hosts.  This people was rescued from misery and bondage, led out of a foreign land, and cared for even in the wilderness.  The Creator moved in the lives of His people in amazing and miraculous ways.  He created a dry channel in the midst of a wet and wild sea.  The Lord led His people in a pillar of fire at night, and a pillar of cloud by day.  There were appearances on the great mountain, and  signs and wonders galore.  Bread came from heaven, and quail from the skies. 

There could be no doubt that the Lord of Heaven’s Hosts was God.  His hand was clearly on His people.  God even gave His people a leader – one to guide them and to mediate with the Lord for them.

One fine day, the Lord called his appointed leader to the mountain top for a conference.  There, He instructed the leader on the manner in which His people should live.

This took days.  The people became bored.  What  to do?  The thundering God atop the mountain was obviously occupied.  Their appointed leader was obviously not returning any time soon.  Who to worship?  Who to bow to?  What to do?

The people chosen by the Lord of Heaven’s Hosts made a calf.  They removed their earrings, and their bracelets, and they constructed their own  god ~ an idol to bow before.  They found something else to worship; another love to celebrate.

If you remember the rest of Exodus chapter 32, you know this story did not end well.  Aaron, the brother of Moses (God’s appointed leader for the nation of Israel), told Moses the fault for the construction of the idol he created fell on the shoulders of first the evil-hearted Israelites, then upon the fire.  “I threw the gold in and out popped this calf!”  Really, Aaron?  That’s the best you’ve got?

Long story shorter, God was not  amused.  He’s pretty clear that we are only to worship Him.  People died.  Their calf was destroyed.


Very recently, in a land not so very far away, there was a people claimed by the Lord of Heaven’s Hosts.

The people lived in the land the Lord had given them, waiting for the return of their leader – their Savior – the king of Heaven and Earth.  God’s people knew that Jesus would soon return.  They knew they were to be about their Father’s business.  They knew they were to bow only to God.

The return of Jesus took days.  Months.  Years.  God’s people became bored.  What to do?  Jesus was obviously occupied.  Perhaps God was not paying attention.  Who to worship?  Who to bow to?  What to do?

God’s people found their answer in a box.  They hung it on a wall, plugged it in, and turned it on.  Out came pictures and sound.  Their minds were filled with the images of all things forbidden ~ sexual depravity, witchcraft and blasphemy ~ wrapped in a pretty one-hour package.  The images flickered on and on, and God’s chosen people fed their offerings to the box.  They gave it their time, their allegiance, and their original thoughts.  They bowed down and worshiped, rejoicing in the god they had created.

From the mountain top, the Father and His Son watched.  From within the hearts of His chosen, the Holy Spirit dwelled among the images of idolatry and sin.

* * *

According to a 2010 report on Daily Media Use Among Children and Teens from the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages 8-18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day viewing and listening to media.  If we subtract the time spent on music and audio files (because I think audio books and music can be very beneficial ~ depending on the content), we’re left with an average 5 hours and 7 minutes a day spent on TV, video games, movies, and computers.

Friends, that is a full  time job.

What are we doing to our children?  What are we filling their minds with?  Are we sacrificing their very lives – their time, their creativity, their souls – before the god of entertainment?   At what point will the people of the Lord of Heaven’s Hosts stand up and say, “No more!  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”?

“Make sure the light you think you have is not actually darkness.  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”  Luke 11:35,36

What about you and your house?  Whom will you choose to serve?

~ Danika Cooley

Danika Cooley is a children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.; Upper Room Ministries’ Pockets and Devozine; CBH Ministries’ Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey. Her work also appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.


  1. heatherdaygilbert says

    Enjoyed this post–very convicting! We don’t do TV but we do have Netflix and video games. I like that Netflix gives us control over what our kids watch (for the most part). But limiting the TIME spent on such things is the key, and something we’re always working on tightening up!

    • says

      Heather ~ It’s never-ending vigilance for us. I enjoy media, and I think there are important things to be learned from some of it, but we want to guard against idolatry. We also want to guard our hearts against content that is not God-honoring. Thanks for the comment!

      ~ Danika

  2. Jennifer M says

    I just found this post via Pinterest. It is very timely because I just read the story of the golden calf to my 6 yo daughter and have been struggling to ward off her constant request for tv and all things media (game time) this week. I really have a hard time because, while we were allowed to watch tv (with restrictions) as children, it has been impressed upon me that it is bad to enjoy tv time or i feel guilty for liking it. I think negatively of my daughter for being so driven by it. I have just recently been able to recognize that its ok for her to like it, it doesnt make her or me a bad person. But now I have to figure out how to teacher how to manage her media time on her own and recognize the danger in too much of it. Applying it to the golden calf story makes perfect sense but I don’t want her to feel bad or sinful for enjoying it either. Any suggestions on how to approach it?

    • says


      I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with media. It can be a wonderful tool. We have some amazing series (Like the “What’s in the Bible? with Buck Denver” DVDs) that the kids love to watch, and I feel really good about what they’re learning.

      I see a few issues with media that we need to be careful about and educate our children about:

      1) We have to guard our hearts. ANYthing that becomes an idol is dangerous to us spiritually. Also, we must be careful to guard our hearts regarding WHAT we are viewing. Every writer has a message and a worldview, and our children are especially sensitive and vulnerable to those messages. In the younger years, I believe it’s our job to guard their hearts for them. As they get older, we can have more conversations about what types of things hurt our hearts and our relationships with God as we watch them. Our children know that there are some things they may choose to watch at 18, but we won’t allow them to watch before then. Honestly, we don’t feel we have the right to choose to expose them to some material. Visual exposure can never be undone.

      2) Time management is an important skill to teach to our young people. The study cited is appalling (frankly). Your family will need to decide what’s reasonable. Our kids aren’t allowed media before school and chores are done, and then media is very limited (30 minutes a day unless we allow a video). They have to make a wise choice about how to spend that time. Because we spend such a small amount of time on TV, they have more time available for other more creative and industrious activities.

      Every family is going to make different decisions. I like media. But I feel we need to be intentional about teaching our children to view media carefully and in a holy manner, and we need to practice that in our own lives. It’s just an ongoing training issue. :)

      ~ Danika

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