Parties and the Christian

party

Parties and the Christian

 

Parties and the Christian

Richard Hollerman

Parties and the Christian! We’ve all heard of parties and many of us have participated in them. But what do we know about this matter of parties and how should the devoted Christian look on them?

Let’s notice a few definitions of the term “parties”:

  • “a social gathering, as of invited guests at a private home, for conversation,

refreshments, entertainment, etc.” such as “a cocktail party” (dictionary.com/browse/parties).

  • “a social event in which entertainment, food, and drinks are provided” (merriam-webster.com/dictionary/party).
  • “A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, recreation, or as part of a festival or other commemoration of a special occasion. A party will typically feature food and beverages, and often music and dancing or other forms of entertainment. In many Western countries, parties for teens and adults are associated with drinking alcohol such as beer, wine ordistilled spirits.” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party).

This last source goes on to mention some of the kinds of parties available:

Some parties are held in honor of a specific person, day, or event, such as a birthday party, a Super Bowl party, or a St. Patrick’s Day party. Parties of this kind are often called celebrations. A party is not necessarily a private occasion. Public parties are sometimes held in restaurants, pubs, beer gardens, nightclubs or bars, and people attending such parties may be charged an admission fee by the host. Large parties in public streets may celebrate events such as Mardi Gras or the signing of a peace treaty ending a long war. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party).

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Most of us are familiar with these kinds of parties, whether or not we have participated in them.

As in all other matters of society, we should seek to understand parties in light of God’s infallible Word.  Here we are referring to a social party and not to the “party” of the Sadducees or Pharisees. Nor are we referring to the term, “party spirit” as used of a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:20. But our discussion refers to the social event mentioned in the definitions above.

We might think of the words of the father of the “Prodigal Son” in Christ’s parable in Luke 15. After his prodigal son returned, this father said, “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate” (15:22-23). This was a special celebration that could be called a party, one that was filled with happiness and involved food. The older son heard “music and dancing” (v. 25). This kind of event can be positive, neutral, and can easily degenerate into something negative.

On a different occasion, we read of another kind of party: “A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you’” (Mark 6:21-22). In this case, there was a banquet offered and probably many intoxicants. Further, there must have been lewd dancing. Quite plainly, this was a party that would have been carnal or fleshly.

Another fleshly and drunken party was prepared by Belshazzar the king of Babylon (Daniel 5). The text says that “the king held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand” (v. 1). We read that the king, his nobles, his wives, and his concubines were in the feast (v. 3). This would have been a party, of sorts, and it must have been a fleshy affair.

When unspiritual or fleshly people—both men and women—come together in a group, and especially when intoxicating drinks flow freely, this is what constitutes a worldly and fleshly party.

Negatives of Parties

Surely most parties mentioned in the Bible and most parties of today are carnal affairs where all kinds of sinful thoughts, words, and deeds are included. Let’s look at some of these elements, especially as mentioned in the earlier-mentioned article on parties:

  1. Birthday parties

The birthday party is familiar to nearly everyone. Here is the description:

In Western cultures, birthday parties include a number of common rituals. The guests may be asked to bring a gift for the honored person. Party locations are often decorated with colorful decorations, such as balloons and streamers. A birthday cake is usually served with lit candles that are to be blown out after a “birthday wish” has been made. The person being honored will be given the first piece of cake. While the birthday cake is being brought to the table, the song “Happy Birthday to You” or some other birthday song is sung by the guests. (Ibid).

This sort of party may be acceptable in some limited circumstances. Negative aspects are also found. For instance, people may “surprise” the person who has the birthday, and often there is a great amount of lying or deception used in keeping such a party secret from the one with a birthday. Scripture says, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal faithfully are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22).  Further, generally a lot of junk food is served at these parties. Paul reminds us, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Christian may go to a birthday party, but he or she should ensure that it is a wholesome and spiritual event, not a carnal one.

  1. Dinner Party

This sort of party can be positive or negative, depending on the nature of the event.

A dinner party is a social gathering at which people eat dinner together, usually in the host’s home. At the most formal dinner parties, the dinner is served on a dining table with place settings. Dinner parties are often preceded by a cocktail hour in a living room or bar, where guests drink cocktails while mingling and conversing.[2] Wine is usually served throughout the meal, often with a different wine accompanying each course. (Ibid.)

We can see from this that often intoxicating drinks are served before and/or during the dinner. This may be part of being a good host or hostess but it does bring an ungodly element into the dinner. Where this element appears, generally there is some degree of drunkenness or intoxication (Galatians 5:19-21).

  1. Cocktail Party

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What is this sort of event? “A cocktail party is a party at which cocktails are served. It is sometimes called a “cocktail reception”. Women who attend a cocktail party may wear a cocktail dress. A cocktail hat is sometimes worn as a fashion statement.” (Ibid). Again, we see that liquor (and intoxication) is the prime ingredient of such a party, thus a the Christian must not participate. Peter says that his Christian readers had “carried out the desire of the Gentiles,” and “pursued a source of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3). Notice that part of this negative description of unrighteous living would be “drinking parties.”

  1. Dances and Balls

When I went to high school years ago, there was always the Friday night dances after the football games. I never went to such an event, but I assure you that many of the students would look forward to the dances. (I might add that today I would never encourage any parent to send his or her children to the secular school system!). Dances and balls are a very common form of party:

A dance is a social gathering at which the guests dance. It may be a casual, informal affair or a structured event, such as a school dance or a charity ball. Dances usually take place during the evening. An afternoon dance is formally known as a tea dance. Some dances feature specific kinds of dancing, such as square dancing. A ball is a large formal party that features ballroom dancing. Women guests wear ball gowns; men wear evening dress. (Ibid.)

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This describes more of the formal dances, but the informal dances of which I wrote above are also exceedingly popular. The dancing would be clearly condemned under the warning against such sins as impurity, sensuality, and carousing (Galatians 5:19-21)—sins that would prevent one from entering the kingdom of God!

  1. Costume or Fancy Dress Party

We might wonder what sort of party this might be. Our source puts it this way: “At a masquerade ball, guests wear masks to conceal their identities. Guests at a costume party or a fancy dress party wear costumes. These parties are sometimes associated with holiday events, such as Halloween and Mardi Gras.” (Ibid.)

This sort of party is condemned through the Scriptures in various ways. For instance, Paul refers to his former life (before salvation to Christ), by saying, “We also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3a). Jesus also referred to “foolishness” and said that this and other sins are “evil things” that “proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23). Almost inevitably, foolishness would describe a party where people “dress up” or “masquerade” and conceal their identies.

  1. Parties for Teenagers and Young Adults

As we continue noticing the various kinds of parties that people engage in, we come to ones that young people may be especially attracted to. This may be described as follows:

Dance parties are gatherings in bars or community centers where the guests dance to house music, techno music, or disco. The music for dance parties is usually selected and played by a disc jockey.

A spin-off of dance parties, the rave involves dancing to loud house music, techno music, or industrial music. Rave parties may be attended by as few as a score of people in a basement or, more likely, by a few hundred people in a club, to as many as thousands in a large warehouse, field, or even tens of thousands in a sporting arena, amusement park, or other large space. Raves are associated with illegal drugs such as Ecstasy and psychedelic drugs. (Ibid.)

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We can see that this would be a debauched and wicked event, one that not only involves liquor and other intoxicants, but also drugs and music. There is no place at all for the Lord in such a gathering and thus there is not room for a child of God! The whole atmosphere of this kind of party is contrary to the ways of the Lord! “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

  1. Other Parties for Young People and Young Adults

Other wicked events in the realm of parties may be described in these terms:

A house party is a party where a large group of people get together at a private home to socialize. House parties that involve the drinking of beer pumped from a keg are called keg parties or “keggers.” These parties are popular in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia and are often attended by people under the legal drinking age. Sometimes, even older party-goers run afoul of the law for having provided alcoholic beverages to minors. Arrests may also be made for violating a noise ordinance, for disorderly conduct,[5] and even for operating a “blind pig”, an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverages.

Outdoor parties include bush parties and beach parties. Bush parties (also called “field parties”) are held in a secluded area of a forest (“bush”), where friends gather to drink and talk. These parties are often held around a bonfire. Beach parties are held on a sandy shoreline of a lake, river, or sea, and also often feature a bonfire.

A pool party is a party in which the guests swim in a swimming pool.

School-related parties for teenagers and young adults include proms and graduation parties, which are held in honor of someone who has recently graduated from a school or university. (Ibid)

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Scripture says that “carousing” is a deed of the flesh and will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21; cf. 1 Peter 4:3). This is just what the kind of party described above is—a place of evil, lust, wickedness, foolishness, and immorality!

  1. Sleepover Party, Pajama Party, Slumber Party

Generally this kind of party is meant for pre-teens or teens.  It may be described in this way: “A party for which the guests are invited to stay overnight at the home of the host. These parties are usually for teenagers or young children.” (Ibid) As might be imagined, this can be a very carnal affair, with evil and lustful talk, with immoral sex, with drinking and drugs, with a lack of sleep, with junk foods, and with a general foolishness. It is not at all for the follower of Christ. “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

  1. Political Houseparty

We may not immediately think of this as a party, but in some measure it is just that. Here is the comment: “A party that is hosted in a private home for the purpose of supporting a particular candidate, political party, or ballot measure, or to share information and opinions about an upcoming election.” (Ibid.) The Christian is not part of this world system, for Christ is King of a spiritual kingdom and we are His obedient subjects (John 18:36). All of the world’s kingdoms are under Satan’s power (cf. Luke 4:5-6).

Beware of the Negative Factors in Parties!

We’ve examined some of the familiar kinds of “parties” that we find in society and immediately we become aware of the negative influences and harmful elements in these kinds of parties. Let’s survey some of them again.

  1. Intoxicating Drinks

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It would seem that intoxicating drinks are a regular element in many of the parties we have noticed. In fact, beer and liquor are ubiquitous parts of these gatherings. If one abstains from these drinks he is derided as a teetotaler! Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.” We also remember that no drunkard will enter the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Scripture teaches that such sins as “drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties” may be a part of the Christian’s past life—but surely not part of his life after conversion (cf. 1 Peter 4:3)!

  1. Drugs

Some of the parties we have surveyed involve various kinds of illegal drugs. Without question, all kinds of wicked activity can be brought into a party when such drugs are freely involved. Like the previous point above, the Christian will want to avoid such an event if any drugs are found there.

  1. Music

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Without doubt, most parties will involve all kinds of worldly music. Very few of them will feature Christian type of tunes and lyrics. The Christian may partake in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19; cf. Colossians 3:16) but surely not the many expressions of perverse music of the world. The style of music, the performers of the music, the lyrics, the beat of the music can only lead to carnal or worldly thoughts and actions! This is a leading reason why parties pose a serious threat.

  1. Dancing

In our earlier survey of parties, we noticed that dancing is part of some (or many) of them. Whether it is a party in a house, a party in school, a party in a drinking establishment, probably many of those in attendance will participate in the carnal activity of dancing. And we refer not just to dancing with legitimate spouses but dancing with people who are not a rightful spouse! One definition of “sensuality” includes the modern lascivious dance! (Galatians 5:19).

  1. Immodesty

What would a party be like if one requirement would be that all who attend must wear modest clothing?  Without question, most of those who attend a party wear immodest, provocative, revealing, and worldly attire. Sadly, many women appear at such places dressed as harlots (Proverbs 7:10). In contrast, Christian women are to adorn themselves “with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly” (1 Timothy 2:9-10; cf. 1 Peter 3:1-5). Surely, Christian type of clothing would be out of step with the prevailing fashion of the world.

  1. Sex

Sex, of course, is a broad subject but who can deny that sexuality is a leading feature in many (or most) of these parties! The provocative clothing (or lack thereof), the drinking, the conversations, the dancing, the activities themselves often lead to sinful sexual activity—and immoral sexual relationships! Scripture commands  us, “Abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). These parties loosen the party-goers and make them ripe to involve themselves in all kinds of immoral activity (cf. Romans 1:24-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Galatians 5:19-21). If sexual thoughts, words, and activity were absent from these parties, much of the appeal would be gone.

  1. Junk Foods

junk food (2)

Probably some of our readers will be surprised to read this factor in our discussion on parties, but it is obvious that junk food is a regular feature of most of these gatherings. If the host and hostess or party-organizer were to only offer healthy, nutritious, wholesome food choices, many of the attendees would feel like walking out! Take away the soft drinks, the ice cream, the cake, the cookies, and the fattening main courses, there would be little left! Scripture warns, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Christian’s body has been given by the Lord and must be used to glorify Him (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:13-20). This perspective is nearly always absent from a party. Even so-called “Christian” parties often overlook this obvious point.

  1. Unspiritual Fellowship

Think of the parties you are aware of and ask whether they are places where Christ is welcome.  Are these events where Jesus is talked about, where Christian songs are sung, where the Bible is discussed, where loving and sweet fellowship is an integral element? Are they places where Jesus would attend if He were walking the earth today?

Scripture says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Do “wise men” attend such parties? Do “fools” generally go to these parties? Paul warns, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34a). Will the bad companions at the party corrupt good morals? We also read, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers” (1 Corinthians 6:14a). God invites, “Come out from their midst and be separate” (v. 17a). Parties will tempt a person in manifold ways, thus the Christian must run from them to avoid sin!

  1. Foolishness

Our Lord said that “foolishness” is an “evil thing” that proceeds from within and defiles the person (Mark 7:22-23). Paul wrote, “We also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures” (Titus 3:3). Yet most of the parties we have described earlier involve vast amounts of foolishness! And most of those who participate in these parties are fools and partake of foolishness! How many upbuilding, edifying, constructive, elevating, spiritual conversations happen in a party? On the contrary, how many superficial, destructive, sexually immoral, lustful, materialistic, and fleshly discussions occur? If you wish to avoid foolishness, run from worldly parties!

Find Another Activity

We’ve found that most parties are worldly (partake of the fallen world) and are not spiritual (partake of the Holy Spirit). For this reason, the devoted follower of Christ will want to avoid the bad and seek the good. God said, “Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good” (Isaiah 1:16-17). The follower of Jesus our Lord will avoid worldly parties and seek spiritual fellowship and activities.

You may reply that spiritual fellowship is not always available. We would agree that we should have continual and extensive fellowship with other brothers and sisters in the family of God, but I must sadly agree with you that sometimes this isn’t available. But this lack cannot be considered justification to attend and participate in the worldly parties we have described. Let’s trust that God will give us what we need if we refuse to participate in activities and relationships of the world.

Find satisfaction in reading your Bible and reading spiritually-edifying books available. Read positive, constructive literature of all kinds. Pray more. Share your faith in Christ with anyone who will listen. Listen to Christian songs and sing them. Walk in the park or woods. Learn to cook a new recipe that is healthy and nutritious. Spend time with your spouse, your children, your parents, or others. There are many things to do other than attend the parties of the world. If one of your co-workers or neighbors invites you go to a party, kindly decline and tell him or her the reason why you are not able to attend. Do so with love and gentleness, but do so with decisiveness!

In all things, seek God’s will and do it. Be an example before others of what it means to follow Jesus (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7). Refuse to participate in the dark and sinful ways of the world, but instead walk in the light (Ephesians 5:11-12). Pursue the way of holiness and not the way of worldliness as is found in most of the parties we have discussed (Hebrews 12:14). Let Jesus be your Companion and refuse to go where He would not be entirely welcome!

Although some parties may be positive and “Christian” in character, we must all admit that most parties are not of this nature. For this reason, let’s only go to the former and never to the latter.

 

 

 

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