The excerpt below was taken from a letter written by my friend's missionary son. I thought it was extremely insightful and asked if I could share it. It makes some wonderful connections.
Elder Redd says that there are individuals who take gold shavings and drink them with their alcohol. When I asked why, he responded that they do it because as the shavings pass through the esophagus and stomach they create undetectable, tiny cuts, and that in that way, the alcohol can enter the bloodstream more rapidly.
I was pondering on this, and it made me think of the situation in Exodus 32:20 when after the idolatrous mayhem that the Israelites demonstrated, Moses took the ground up golden calf and made the Israelites drink it with water. I had always thought he did that to make the water bitter, but I then saw that as these shavings passed through their bodies, it would have caused internal damage. This internal damage, just as the internal spiritual damage their idolatry was causing, would have passed almost unnoticed, but it would have cut them to the very center. As their increased exposure continued, they would become past feeling, and their veins would be filled with their drunkenness. As these otherwise foreign elements entered into their very lifeblood, they would have become what they ate: idolaters to the very marrow.
Thus when we pollute the living waters with our idolatrous ways, we unknowingly cut ourselves to the core and drink damnation to the soul. Who knew something so beautiful, valuable, and symbolically pure had the power to do such devastating harm to those who use it improperly?!
(Anthony Phan, mission letter,