Sunday, January 27, 2008

To Mardi Gras or not to Mardi Gras . . .

Much like the "To Halloween or not" question, I believe this is a matter of personal conviction. But am I wrong about that?

To participate in Mardi Gras by way of being a member of a Krewe and riding on a float inherently, in most cases, involves fashioning an idol of a god and printing the image of that god or goddess on doubloons, cups, t-shirts, etc.

Such as Zeus, Dionysus, Bacchus (the Roman god of wine and intoxication - equivalent to Dionysus), Aphrodite, Isis, Thor, etc. Of course, there are Krewes with more innocuous names such as Mona Lisa, Excalibur, Ceasar, Cleopatra, etc.

While these actions may violate the letter of Mosaic Law (namely the 2nd Commandment), they certainly don't violate the intent. I mean, really, are the Krewe members actually worshipping these gods. Of course not. (Although the legalists might think so.) Besides, most of the Krewe members are Catholics - therefore Christians.

For me, I don't attend the night parades as a matter of personal conviction. But occasionally, I don't mind attending a day parade. Especially if the day parade is the children's parade. (Btw, by occasionally, I mean every five years or so.) As a child, I enjoyed them. I remember when I first saw the Budweiser Clydesdales pass by. I didn't think those horses actually existed. I had seen them in movies and thought they were special effects, not real animals.

The important thing to remember about a personal conviction is not to judge others by it. For example, the Bible doesn't say you can't drink. It says "don't be a drunkard." It is my personal conviction not to drink. But I'm careful to tell my non-Christian friends that I don't condemn them for drinking. I only mention to them the verse that says "don't be a drunkard." But in the end, it is their choice to be a drunkard or not.

So if a fellow Christian decides to participate in Mardi Gras, I may share my opinions with them, but I never judge them based on my decision. A pastor at one of my former churches, actually told our youth group that if Jesus comes back and they're at the movies, they will get left behind. I immediately packed up my guitar and began looking for a different church. While it may be a good thing to try and convince our youth of the dangers of certain types of movies, it is never a good thing to pass judgement on them on God's behalf. I'm sure this pastor understands the concept of being judged by the same measure which you judge. I wonder if he could pass his own scrutiny.

It is important to consider how difficult it is to live up to the Law. Thankfully, we don't have to. That's why Jesus was born. But we must also consider how difficult it is, over a lifetime, to live up to our own "Law" which we judge others by.


Nicole said...

" . . . most of the Krewe members are Catholics - therefore Christians."

Okay, I'll just say it: not necessarily a given.

I agree with your approach. So often we Christians get all knotted up over "judging" others. We are told to judge sin and to judge ourselves (our conduct), not to lord it over others when they do something wrong or evil--since we are as guilty of the same or different sins ourselves. None of us are perfect, though we strive to be obedient to our Lord and Savior. We foul up. If and when the Holy Spirit tells us to go to another about their sin(s), we must go and speak the truth in love--preferably how we hope someone would speak to us if the situation is reversed.

Kay said...

I agree that we shouldn't judge others based on our opinions or convictions.
I agree with Nicole in that sometimes we are to judge behavior if it is indeed sin as verified by the Word.
But to judge the people themselves, as that pastor did, is to be judgemental in the wrong way. We can't judge their souls. We can only judge their behaviors. And even then, only prayerfully and humbly.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Thanks K & N. That's exactly my point.

I see far too many people, pastors included, confuse their personal convictions with absolute stated sin. In other words, they believe they have the right to interpret and extrapolate beyond the stated meaning and then judge others on that standard.

Todd said...

Sorry, I was at the parade. Did I miss anything?

But, seriously ...

Regarding Christians:
Many people are Christian, or specifically Catholic, in the sense that they grew up that way and they would not categorize themselves as pagans, or atheists, but they are not actively practicing Christians or "good Catholics" as the saying goes.

Regarding the intent of the law:
As for Mardi Gras, it may well violate the intent of the law. Consider the amount of time, money and effort that is "offered up" to these activities and organizations, and the fervor with which some celebrate them. I would say that to at least some degree, it has become a "god" in the very sense that the intent of the law speaks to - in the same sense that money, food, fame, sex, entertainment (cough - attractive actresses), or any one of the gifts God has given us can replace Him as the focus of our lives.

So ...

As for judging:
How can we judge others harshly for having idols when we so often have our own idols that we make extravagant offerings to.

It is all I can handle most days to deal with the log in my own eye.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Look, just because I built twelve 9 to 1 scale model floats each with a motif of a different Sandra Bullock movie and I held a small parade in my apartment, does not mean . . . um . . . maybe I've said too much.

Hey Todd, remember the good ole days when we disagreed all the time?

Although I agree with the underlying concept, I have never been a big fan of the "idol's in our lives" type preaching.

Again, I agree with the concept, but being a football fanatic is not the same as fashioning a golden calf in your back yard and sacrificing a chicken to it.

So I'm a little leary of stretching that commandment. Besides, the same concept is covered in other parts of the Gospel.

Todd said...

It is a stretch so far as the letter of the law is concerned, but I speak of the spirit of the law.

And, the fact that this concept appears elsewhere in scripture is hardly an argument against it.

Ahhh, now this is more like it ... all of this agreement of late has been making me nervous ...