Christian Living

God, the Bible and Mardi Gras

The 2021 gay and lesbian Mardi Gras held at the Sydney Cricket Ground was quite a spectacle. It was colourful, loud, celebratory and was reported by various media outlets as being the best celebration yet (as it is every year). And yet, the Scriptures teach us that what they were celebrating was in fact part of God’s judgement. The Apostle Paul in the early chapters of his letter to the Romans says that all of us, though we claim to be wise, are foolish, and we exchange the glory of the Creator with created things (Rom 1:22-3, 25). And so, God gives us over in judgement to our sinful desires. This manifests itself in various ways in each one of us. And it includes the disordering of the God-ordained expression of sexual intimacy – in marriage between one man and one woman (Rom 1:26-7). And what is more, God gives us over to depravity as we not only do that which is sinful and deserving of death, but celebrate and approve those who do the same (Rom 1:32).

There are a few things that can be seen from this small excerpt of Scripture. Firstly, what the Mardi Gras is celebrating is not the triumph of human freedom, but the foolishness and mediocrity of human achievement in a naïve declaration of autonomy. It was white noise, as a particular demographic of our society (even without realising that this is what they were doing) looked to the sky and shook their puny fists at the God who created them (cf. Psa 2:1-3), who knows them best, and, who truly loves them as people he has made (notwithstanding contemporary redefinitions of the term ‘love’). But secondly, note that as Christian people, we must not lord it over those of the LGBQTI+ community, for Paul is very clear that we all fall short of God’s glory (Rom 1:18; cf. 3:23). In fact, in the hard-hitting conclusion to the logic of these opening chapters, there is not even one person who is right in God’s eyes and who obeys him fully (Rom 3:9-20) – apart from our Lord Jesus.

That’s why it is important for all Christians to have the forgiveness that comes because of the death and resurrection of Jesus as the message that is always on our lips. This is primarily because this forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel. Speaking of forgiveness also pushes against the popular secular narrative that Christians are judgemental, expecting a high standard for everyone, but failing to achieve this high standard ourselves. Yes, if we follow Jesus as our Lord then we should live in a way that adorns his gospel – with all integrity, self-sacrificial love, faith in God and a hope for the inheritance kept in heaven for us. Yes, if we trust that Jesus is our Saviour, then we should tell others about the salvation that we can have only through him. However, forgiveness implies that the reason we are Christians is not because of merit. We are Christians because of the unmerited favour of God, that he showers on us abundantly. When it comes to our salvation, we deserve nothing; we have achieved nothing; and if it were not for the work of Jesus in his life, death and resurrection, we would receive nothing. As the famous hymn, Rock of Ages, sung in churches across the English-speaking world proclaims: “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your cross I cling.”

Knowing that we are all in the same boat, all equally rebellious against God, all equally deserving of death, and all equally in need of Jesus who saves, then it is in fact loving and good that Christians reach out to all communities, including the LGBQTI+ community, with the gospel. It is loving and good for those who celebrate Mardi Gras to know what they are celebrating, what God thinks of it, and how they can come back and receive forgiveness. I particularly love this quote from Charles Spurgeon:

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”[1]

The truth is that despite all its media attention, pomp and splendor, God sees the kind of behaviour celebrated at the gay and lesbian Mardi Gras as rebellion against his good created order. It is not any worse than any other rebellion, but it is nonetheless deserving of God’s wrath. And so, just as we as Christians ought to be constantly turning back to Jesus for forgiveness and persevering in living for him, so we ought to be proclaiming this life-giving message to everyone. We are in the final days, and Jesus could return at any moment. Now is the time for all people, everywhere, to acknowledge Jesus as the King. For there are really only two types of people: those who are under the wrath of Jesus, or those who are safe in his arms. As the Christ-type David said more than a thousand years earlier:

“Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psa 2:12).

[1] ‘The Wailing of Risca’ preached in the Exeter Hall (during the first rebuilding of Spurgeon’s church) on Sunday morning December 9th, 1860.