I never really have understood the big deal about Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Growing up, there used to be a bar called Fat Tuesday @ the Jacksonville Landing and there was a restaurant called Mardi Gras but I didn’t see what was so spectacular about either of them. But Mardi Gras seems to be a big deal to a lot of people, at least to those who drink , ahem… adult beverages, but also to Catholics.
Being raised Southern Baptist, we were definitely instructed to abstain and abhor the very thought of what Fat Tuesday stood for. However as it turns out us Southern Baptist celebrate our own kind of “Mardi Gras”, and we see nothing wrong with it.
Russell Moore, who was raised in the area where Mardi Gras is a big deal (southern MS/LA), enlightens those of us who know this Southern Baptist culture all to well and he hits the nail on the head!
As the years have gone by, I’ve concluded that we Baptists had Mardi Gras too. This phenomenon was seen in Baptist churches dotted all over the South. Mardi Gras Protestantism didn’t celebrate a day on the yearly calendar, but on the calendar of the lifespan.
The cycle went something like this. You were born, then reared up in Sunday school until you were old enough to raise your hand when the teacher asked who believes in Jesus and wants to go to heaven. At this point you were baptized, usually long before the first pimple of puberty, and shortly thereafter you had your first spaghetti dinner fund-raise to go to summer youth camp. And then sometime between fifteen and twenty you’d go completely wild.
In many Baptist churches, the “College and Career” Sunday school class was somewhat like our view of purgatory. It might be there, technically, but there was no one in it. After a few years of carnality, you’d settle down, get married, start having kids, and you’d be back in church, just in time to get those kids into Sunday school and start that cycle all over again. If you didn’t get divorced or indicted, you’d be chairman of deacons or head of the Woman’s Missionary Union by the time your own kids were going completely wild.
It was just kind of expected. You were going to get things out of your system before you settled down. You know, I never could find that in the Book of Acts either.
Wow. He just described every church I have ever been in. He also described me, my friends, and just about everybody else I know that was “raised” in the church.
Can you resonate? What is the solution to breaking this trend?
We need a relationship with the Father and we need to model it to our kids and teach our kids that it’s not about keeping the “law” but about deepening our relationship with Him.