Liturgies, Leprechauns, or Libations: What Will You Observe?
Here in America, we’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s Day since the late 18th century, although not always in the same fashion. On one hand, religious groups such as the Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, and the Anglican churches set this day apart as a holy day to remember one of their patron Saints. On the other hand, millions of other people adorn themselves in green garb and hit the town with one purpose: to see how much alcohol they can ingest. Although both of these approaches address polar opposite motives, where does the Christian stand in how they view March 17th? There are two elements of St. Patrick’s Day that Christians must analyze for themselves.
The first element is the idea of paying homage to a “Saint.” Although the Catholic and Orthodox churches have numerous teachings and qualifications about who can achieve “saint-hood”, what does the Bible actually teach about saints? In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church we gain insight into what makes a person a saint. “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours,” (1 Cor. 1:2 emph. added). According to the Bible, a “saint” is simply every single Christian. Only Christians have been sanctified (literally “set apart”) by God. The word saint simply means “holy one,” which indicates that “all” biblical Christians in “every place” are considered holy. Based on God’s definition of a saint, it would make no sense for us to pay tribute to a particular person who is arbitrarily called a “Saint” by any religious group.
The second element deals with the other approach to observing St. Patty’s Day: setting this day apart for to celebrate alcohol. Does the Christian, or “saint”, have God’s blessing to participate in these drinking festivities? The Apostle Peter wrote, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead,” (1 Peter 4:3-5 emph. added). According to Scripture, those who engage in both “drunkenness” and “drinking parties” will be “judged” by God. According to the best Greek lexicographers, the idea of these drinking parties, are social gatherings where alcohol is served. This is exactly what characterizes most Americans’ celebration of St. Patty’s Day. Since true biblical saints have been set apart by God as holy, they can have no part in the sinful activities that the rest of the world engages in.
Does all this mean that it’s wrong to wear green on March 17th? Absolutely not! Although Christians have no right to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as either a religious or alcoholic holiday, this does not make it sinful to have any association with this holiday whatsoever. This comes down to a matter of one’s conscience. Paul reminds us that “…whatever is not from faith is sin,” (Rom. 14:23). If it doesn’t bother your conscience to celebrate your Irish heritage, then go right ahead and cook up that corned beef and cabbage. Each Christian must evaluate this for themselves. However, we can clearly see from Scripture that God prohibits us to revere St. Patrick’s Day as either a religious or alcoholic celebration.
Posted on March 14, 2012, in Putting On The New Self and tagged Catholicism, Christian, drinking, Eastern Orthodox Church, God, holiday, parties, Saint, Saint Patrick's Day. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.