Mar 28, 2008

The Sex and Drinkin’ Blog (Or – Why it’s Awesome to be Christ-Centered, Biblical Christian)

In my UTC History of Christian Thought, philosophy class today, we talked about Pope Gregory, ’The Great’ and how he is known for the Christianization of England, the beginnings of the doctrine of Purgatory, and Celibacy in the Catholic church’s priesthood.

I guess I have always been a bit ’down’ on Augustine, as I have suspected him to be the root of the idea that you can’t be married/have sex and be in ministry if your a Catholic priest; as Augustine -while truly being a great Church father – really struggled with his own sexuality and never quite saw it as a good and wholesome thing, created by God. He seemed to remain influenced by the Gnostic Dualist Manichean cult he was a part of before he became a Christian. They taught that sex was more or less evil. He disavowed them – but may have still been influenced by them to a degree – especially when it came to sex. I brought this up to my professor, and he went over the facts that the idea of celibacy came about from a confluence of factors; such as the fact that priests were wanting to pass their offices off to their sons, it was understood that if you were married/having sex/having children then you might have less time for ministry to a parish/church, and that the idea of celibacy is also rooted back into the facts that in the bible – sex does “make you dirty.” Virtually everything connected to it, menstruation, sex, child birth, has some form of ritual cleansing attached to it, which you had to go through before you were “pure” again. Anybody who is an Orthodox Jew or has any degree of familiarity with their church’s rituals/worship/tradition would understand this. So I started thinking about that. It sorta derailed my idea of a Gnostic Dualist inclination, borrowed from pagan religions, as being the source of it. I knew this was not truly the case – but it was something I wanted to learn more about, since I have written allot about it. But it is true – priests could not have sex or drink alcohol while they were performing their duties. So what is up with that? I spent sometime thinking about that as the source of Catholic priestly celibacy and the Southern Fundamentalist proclivity for tee-totaling. After all – those who advocate that we as Christians should not drink alcohol, like to point back to the priests. But you don’t have to be a Systematic Theologian to see why that it might seem like all the cleaning rituals associated with having sex might seem to advocate celibacy, and that the Priests did not drink might advocate a bit of teetotalin’.

But let’s actually do some ’systematic theology’ –

The huge difference between then (the priests/ritual cleansing&no sex/no wine) and now – is nothing less then Christ. The re-occurrent theme in liberty, and the central focus of the subject of liberty – is also Christ. It is not possible to fully speak of Christ – and to not speak of liberty. That liberty cannot be divorced from sex and alcohol; is because the lack of liberty that we had – before Christ – was painted for us in the scripture with these very colors. How bland and dull our theology is without these vibrant colors of our Freedom? To make love and drink and still be holy? We need not go through some long drawn out, highly ritualized bath after ’getting it on’ (with our spouse, of course) or stay away from alcohol on some long term basis to be acceptable to God. Happy is he who enjoys a liberty and partakes in Faith – for He who does not eat out of faith, damns himself; because whatsoever is not in faith – it is in sin. That’s a paraphrase of of the last few verses of Romans 14. Liberty through faith equals Christ and righteousness. Restriction though legalism equals condemnation and sin.

The principle issue is that Christ is our high priest – and for that matter (the following is in Hebrews) his is not of the Aaronic order – but the Melchezedec; and the prohibitions/ritual cleansings were a part of the Law, which point is to Christ – but do not supersede or make any form of substitution or equality with Him. And in regards to Alcohol – the priests could only not drink while they were doing their ’rotation’ in the temple; because that work – under the law – was never completed as long as it was undertaken by human hands. But Christ not only drank but he made wine. He makes a clear distinction between himself and John the Baptist. If neither really drank wine then the whole verse does not make sense. Christ tell us he is accused of being a glutton because he eats food, and a winebibber because he drinks wine. No one would accuse him of being an alcoholic if he only drank grape juice.

The real issue of John the Baptist/Christ comparison in Matthew 11:19 & Luke 7:34 is in the fact that what God is saying is that there are people who are not satisfied with either the legalism that we had under the Law, nor the Liberty that we have in Christ Jesus. Christ says, in Luke 7:31, “Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?” before he compares contrasts himself with John the Baptist. They are just perpetual ’haters’ who will find fault with anything and anybody anywhere. Here we see – for the first time – the full revelation of God in Christ, The Word made Flesh, the Law fulfilled; and just like people do now – only then, for the first time in the history of God’s revelation; they we’rnt’ havin’ it. Neither Legalism nor Liberty would satisfy them.

Ultimately – we can know that we can get married and have sex and jump in the car and serve communion, take up the offering, or even preach -and we don’t have to go through some elaborate process before we can even set foot in the church. It is a shame that so many Christians don’t understand that for the same reason – Christ – we don’t have to be subject to a spirit of fear, but a spirit of understanding that we are in adopted into Christ (Romans 8:15); but we can enjoy a glass of wine and understand that it is not a curse, but a gift from God (Psalm 104:15), and understand that that liberty comes from a relationship with Christ (Deu 14:26).

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I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that [there is] nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him [it is] unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with [thy] meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ [is] acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed [are] pure; but [it is] evil for that man who eateth with offence.
[It is] good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor [any thing] whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have [it] to thyself before God. Happy [is] he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because [he eateth] not of faith: for whatsoever [is] not of faith is sin.
– Romans 14:14-23

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
– Romans 8:15

And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.
– Deu 14:26

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children.
– luke 7:33-35

Just some thoughts…