We’ve been talking in this blogging space for the last few times about the works of the flesh. Last post was about relational sins of strife, enmity, etc. which seems particularly relevant recently given the violent shooting of congressman Scalise. Just a brief thought before proceeding to drunkenness and carousing: ideas and words do have consequences. Disagreements will occur between humans, but they needn’t devolve into either thoughts or words (the fancy term is rhetoric) of violence, the very language of hatred and evil. But on to the subjects at hand.
These last two works of the flesh have to do with, as some put it, “PAR-TAY”.
Drunkenness — While drunkenness is directly associated with alcohol, the principle extends to being inebriated or under the influence from any substance used “recreationally”, from marijuana to speed to barbiturates to opioids. Drunkenness of any sort dulls the mind’s ability to make good judgments, control the impulses, or even control the body. It loosens inhibitions, dissolves our “filters”, and tarnishes our influence. The Christian constantly lives in a spiritual battlefield, and he needs to have his mind fully functioning, to exercise good judgment, control the impulses, and conduct himself as true light and salt in a lost world.
In a darker way, there is another reason for drunkenness other than partying, dulling emotional pain. To address this fully would take too long here, but suffice it to say that dulling pain this way only makes thing worse, not better. How many families have been broken, how many careers have been ruined, how lives have been lost (in drunk driving and overdoses), and how many have suffered due to various kinds of substance abuse. To use a figure, it is better to deal with a wound with healing medicine than to just take painkillers, until the wound turns into gangrene. If you’re in pain, if you’re lonely, if you feel the weight of guilt, if you feel hopeless, if you feel powerless, if you feel shame; bring it to the Lord (the Great Physician with the healing medicine), not the bottle, the joint, or the “hit” (the painkillers).
Carousing — Here’s a word that speaks to what happens when one becomes drunken, when good judgment is gone, when decency is cast aside, when even the worst moral choices seem like good ideas. The Greek word is komos; and translators use “revelings”, “orgies”, “riotous feasting”, “disorderly dancing”, and even “rioting” to convey its meaning. Now, when we think of orgies, we think of the ancient Greeks and Romans, but this isn’t just an ancient problem; it persists even today. Carousings are where life changing deeds are often committed: embarrassments that follow us the rest of our days, deeds that effect our family life for the rest of our lives, crimes for which we must answer, and sometimes even deaths. How many lives have been ruined, how many souls have been lost, in a party that got “a bit” excessive? This is not to say, of course, that celebration and parties are sinful. God commanded certain annual celebrations among the children of Israel. Jesus Himself went to weddings and feasts. Such celebrations are good and healthy for the heart and soul. It is to say, however, that fun does have proper limits that the Christian must observe as he or she lives in the presence of the Lord. But carousing recognizes no such limits, and so it consequently sins against both God and man.
The Lord isn’t a “cosmic killjoy”; fun and celebration is definitely something that Christians can and should enjoy. But like many other good things that God has granted to men, it is possible to turn a blessing into a curse through crossing the boundaries God has given. Stay away from these and other works of the flesh, avoid their curses, and receive the blessings of walking in the Spirit.