Mardi Gras - Modern Idolatry?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 (All day)

The strange revelries of modern culture have their roots in ancient rites and religion.

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[Steve Myers] It's Fat Tuesday. It's the day before Ash Wednesday and it's party time all around the world whether you're in Rio de Janeiro, Paris, New Orleans here in the United States is the party town. And it's the celebrations that are just before Ash Wednesday when people are going to repent and hopefully get right with God is the idea behind it.

[Darris McNeely] Mardi Gras bets up against the period of Lent , which leads up to Easter when some…when according to many religious beliefs something has to be given up as a form of abstinence. And so, the partying, the excess, the revelry right up until Ash Wednesday and that 40 day period becomes…has become more or less just a reason and an excuse to celebrate.  You used to live in New Orleans.

[Steve Myers] Yeah, we used to live in New Orleans and it's interesting Fat Tuesday comes from the idea that you eat as much as you can, you overindulge, you drink as much as you can and then you repent at midnight tonight is when Ash Wednesday begins. They clear the streets. And it's an amazing time. Normally we got out of town because we saw our fill of things just if you watch the newscast and the debauchery down in the French Quarter. People doing unimaginable things just to get little beads to hang around their necks. I mean, it was surprising to see the things that people would do.

[Darris McNeely] When you look at celebrations like this that really have their roots in Medieval history and even in the ancient world, you recognize that in our own modern expressions of culture we have some blatant examples of what really comes down to idolatry and revelry—something that the Apostle Paul warned against in 1 Corinthians:10:7, to the Corinthian church itself a church in a party town. The first century Corinth was quite a…had quite the reputation. But he did say to the people there in verse 7, "Do not become idolaters as were some of them." And he's referring to the example of the children of Israel from Exodus 32. "As it written, 'The people sat down to eat and drank and rose up to play." The NIV translation puts it, they rose up to indulge in revelries, and it's a perfect description of any type of excessive celebration that involves alcohol, drinks, sex, immorality that takes people, you know, against the law of God. And in this case, it has religious connotations at least in it's earliest manifestations as far as what led people to do this.

[Steve Myers] In fact, New Orleans is known for its masks. Well, the masks come from New Orleans where they would cover themselves on Mardi Gras, cover their faces so no one would know who was sinning. And that way they wouldn't be able to hold that against them personally, but they'd repent before God supposedly the next day. But to associate this with religion is, you know, really inexcusable because you cannot. In fact, Paul told the Romans chapter 6 and verse 1. He says, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" (Romans:6:1). And Paul says certainly not! We cannot. We cannot sin and then think that somehow we can be right with God when we purposely do that. It's unacceptable.

[Darris McNeely] When He gives explicit teaching in this regard, it really is a lesson for every one of us wanting to live by every word of God to look at the examples that are around us in our culture of excess, of immorality, of partying and what the Bible describes as revelries and ask some very hard questions about what we do, what goes on, and how far one should go in taking part in those matters—if they should at all.

[Steve Myers] That's BT Daily . We'll see you next time.


Bible FAQ: What is Mardi Gras? Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday)? 

Bible FAQ: What are Ash Wednesday and Lent? Does the Bible tell us to celebrate these days?


jonathanjmagee's picture

I’m originally from Louisiana. So many of my well-meaning Christian friends celebrate Mardi Gras. This has always surprised me. Many of the parades are named, not after religious leaders or even Catholic saints, but after ancient pagan gods. Zeus, Bacchus, Dionysus; it’s seems like one of the most blatant non-christian celebrations in America. It was adapted from pagan religions into “Christianity” without really changing that much. God says,“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex 20:3) Most people don’t think much about it, but when they celebrate Mardi Gras, they are choosing to enjoy a big pagan party over God.


dust_i_am's picture

What's puzzled me is how even some mainstream churches celebrate Mardi Gras. A big United Methodist church in my city has a dinner, complete with parading in the aisles.

Maybe The 700 Club has a better idea, with "Skinny Wednesday." :-)


DalethNun's picture

Yes, indeed. I am not even the least but surprised. For here in the City of Oklahoma I traverse the many so-called christian cogregations. But they do not "know" that they R verily pagan in modernity and in origin. Only thing they know is what has been shewn to them by their elders. The Bible they will not let be their "Authority". But the Pope, and other great men are...We have every idol in our american society. Osiris(dollar bills); zeus, whom they call God's Son.And Estarte,(Easter), the sex-goddess. Many are deceived and receving more delusion along the path to destruction. They R truly celebrating the ruach(spirit) of death across the world, and at Mardi Gras. Shalom

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