Thursday, August 04, 2005

The devils brew

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

(Galatians 5:19-26)

I was out with friends from work on Tuesday, and while they were attempting to get wasted, I was attempting to stay sober. This successful attempt was inevitably noticed, and the inevitable questions followed. I did not answer these very well, and their understanding was 'Dave does not get drunk because that it is in the bibles list of bad things', which as the above shows is certainly true. The inevitable follow up questions were along the lines of what else the bible lists as bad (e.g smoking? gays?). How frustrating!

I have talked about this kind of situation with other Christians and the general conclusion is you have to take the wide angle view of the issue so bringing in Jesus, then the Gospel etc. etc. I think that is exactly right although in practice it can be hard, due to both my sinful desire to duck the issue, and the shortened attention span of the average drunken friend. However, thinking about the other passage, I think the way I zoom out may be a bit different to how I would previously.

My probable response to why I do not drink to excess last week would have been along the lines of drunkenness is idolatry which is bad because God is better. There is a problem with that explanation I think as it tends to equate drunkenness with alcoholism, which is more clearly idolatry, but for want of a better solution I have largely ignored that problem. In the light of the above passages and those like it I may have to change my route to God from drunkenness, if you know what I mean. The vices listed here have a common theme - the breakdown of human relationships, a common problem with the agitators in Galatia. The fruit of the Spirit in contrast can largely be charactarised by attributes leading to, and part of, healthy relationships. All very human centred for a Calvinist like me but its the Word of God, so its me that has to change and not the text.

Maybe next time I should begin with how drunkenness is bad because it is not loving(the primary dimension of the fruit of the Spirit). Then go on to why love is part of the order of creation which honours God, or something like that. I feeling my way here, and far from an answer - help is always welcome.

P.S. I did not make it clear, but I did not unload the theology on my friends on Tuesday, for both good and bad reasons. I have however offloaded theology before to my non-Christian friends though on more theological issues. To be honest I know no other way, as all my life is intertwined with it.

P.P.S. I recall here Ian Stackhouse's sermon on Galatians here on the distinctive marks (boundary markers?) of the Christian, and how they are all negative and legalistic, not positive and Christ-centred. I do not want to be part of the problem. (See previous post for more on Stackhouse.)


Post a Comment

<< Home