Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In the News: New Orleans – Super City

ImageIt’s Superbowl Sunday and for the first time in the history of the franchise, the New Orleans Saints will be playing for the NFL Championship. The game has been referred to time and again as a needed balm as the city of New Orleans continues its recovery from hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

New Orleans is a city of sin. It is a party city, with its famous Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, and the Mardi Gras celebration. It is a mixture of French decadence, Southern hospitality, voodoo, narcissism and Roman Catholicism. Mardi Gras is an interesting example of these influences. The word Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referencing the common Catholic practice of eating rich and fatty foods in the days before the fasting of the Lenten Season, starting with Ash Wednesday.

In New Orleans, the celebration of Mardi Gras is characterized by excess drinking and lewd behavior. In the French Quarter especially, it is common for women to expose themselves in exchange for strings of cheap plastic beads. Numerous shops in that part of town openly display and sell drug paraphernalia. It is patently absurd for religious people to actively engage in sinful activities in preparation for a time of penance, but that is New Orleans for you!

Many of the schools in the city intend to be closed on Monday reasoning that if the Saints win the city will still be partying, and if they lose people will still be blowing off steam. Either way, educators are convinced that few students will come to school, and that holding classes would pose a possible risk to the students’ safety.

I am not a prophet, but I can reasonably predict what will happen when the game ends tonight. Win or lose, the French Quarter will fill up with a large, drunken crowd. Whether fueled by anger or euphoria, violence will erupt. Cars will be overturned, fires will be started, people will get arrested, and some will be hurt, possibly even killed. And all because a football team won a game … or lost one.

Some of the same will happen in Indianapolis as well. It reminds me of the simple statement made by Moses about the children of Israel while he tarried on the mount. “and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6). This “play” was not the innocent recreation of children. The Lord told Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves” (vs. 7). When Moses descended the mountain he heard the “sound of singing” and witnessed the idolatry of the people (the golden calf) “and the dancing” (cf. vss. 18-19). The text says that the people were “unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies” (vs. 25). Moses condemned their actions, saying, “You have committed a great sin” (vs. 30).

Millions of Americans will be sitting in front of their televisions or congregating at the local sports bar, instead of going to the evening worship service held by most denominations (other than those who cancel their services in deference to the game). Many will become gluttons and winebibbers, violent and unrestrained. They all will be acting as fools in the name of a silly game with a funny shaped ball. I enjoy football too, but their behavior on this day, much like that of the ancient Israelites, is “a great sin,” and a blight upon our nation. As Christians, we should listen to the words of Moses, “Whoever is on the LORD’S side-come to me” (vs. 26).