by Shawn Brasseaux
Here in Louisiana, a state dominated by Roman Catholicism, Mardi Gras is perhaps the most celebrated festival. Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people consume as much alcohol as they want, eat as much rich and fatty foods as they want, and party as much as they want. While I love the dear people who participate in these events, I, as a Bible-believing Christian, object to such activities. Please understand that the following study is not intended to belittle or attack, but to provide sound doctrine regarding a matter that many enjoy but few understand.
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A BRIEF SUMMARIZATION OF FAT TUESDAY, ASH WEDNESDAY, AND LENT
Religious people are told that, after they have “sinned all they want” on Fat Tuesday, to repent of that wickedness, to mourn, and turn to God. On the day after Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, clergymen place ashes on the foreheads of the church members as a sign of their “repentance.” “Lent” is the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. During these weeks, religious people endure “penitential preparation” for Easter Sunday. They are encouraged to “get closer to God” and make their lives more closely resemble Jesus’ life. How?
Their clergy urge them to pray, do penance (suffer and apologize for their sins), have repentance (feel sorry for their sins and/or turn from their sins), give alms (give material goods/money to others), and seek self-denial (temporarily give up luxuries such as a hobby or favorite food). These dear souls are even told they cannot eat meat on the Fridays during Lent (fasting). Did you know that God’s Word says that “commanding to abstain from meats” is a “doctrine of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)?
So, why do they observe Lent? They claim to be following “Jesus” when He fasted for 40 days (Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2). To Satan’s delight, Mardi Gras appears so innocent and it hides behind the cloak of religion. People are completely blinded regarding Mardi Gras, just like they are regarding much of the other activities in “Christian” circles today. Let me further demonstrate this.
THE DECEPTION AND PAGANISM OF MARDI GRAS EXPOSED
Why is Mardi Gras a period of drunkenness, overeating, and partying followed by a time of fasting? Historians tell us that Mardi Gras can be traced back to the pagan Roman festivals Saturnalia and Lupercalia, wild and shameful celebrations of fertility and springtime. Lupercalia was noted for its orgies and sexual excesses while Saturnalia was celebrated with overeating and revelry (drunken parties). And then, after the excess, the pagans fasted. Does that sound familiar? Is that not what Mardi Gras is all about? Despite its “Christian” veneer, history claims that Mardi Gras is not a Christian celebration at all. Pagans originally celebrated it, albeit they called it other names (Lupercalia and Saturnalia).
How did Mardi Gras become associated with Christianity? Well, when Christianity came to Rome in the first centuries A.D., church leaders knew that it would be impossible to convince the pagans to abandon their ungodly practices, worthless idols, and unbiblical beliefs. What was the solution to uniting the Roman Empire? The church leaders simply incorporated that heathenism into Christianity! This is the origin of several “Christian” holidays, including Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.
A few weeks ago, a local Roman Catholic priest wrote a column in my local newspaper. The poor soul actually defended Mardi Gras as something godly, withholding the historical facts that he should have known. He claimed, “Getting drunk and wreckless [sic] is not the spirit of Mardi Gras in its origin. Rather, it was to tap into the rhythm of life of celebrating and mourning, of eating and fasting, of laughing and crying. It is what the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes was inspired to write….” Basically, he argued that since Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says there is “a time for” everything, Mardi Gras is no exception! He concluded his article with, “As long as there is no sin, celebrate Mardi Gras with gusto so the 40 days of Lent will be entered into with willingness and even a sense of joy.” (Bold emphasis mine.) According to him, you can celebrate Mardi Gras, a sinful holiday, without committing sin. Shame! Shame! Shame!
I wrote a letter to the editor, and surprisingly, it was published. In that letter, I objected to this priest’s statements and pointed out that his entire argument was misleading. Some may argue that this was an honest mistake on his part, so be it known, that, to my knowledge, that priest made no attempt to correct his untruthful statements. He never recanted or retracted his claims.
More recently, this same Catholic priest wrote yet another column in our newspaper, and this time, his topic was Lent. He wrote, “Marked on this coming Wednesday with ashes as a reminder that we are dust and unto dust we all shall return, we enter this season to reflect on how best we can walk with Jesus, knowing that ‘if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him’ (Romans 6:8). This is a holy time—a time to believe more and more in the good news of Jesus.” Notice again how Mardi Gras and Lent is associated with Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Lent is a “holy” time? Well, as long as we compare Lent to the shameful carousel on the previous Tuesday, I guess Lent IS holy!
MARDI GRAS ON PARADE
Quite frankly, religious people use Mardi Gras as a license to sin. Mardi Gras parades, complete with bead tossing from floats, involve alcohol, gluttony, and dancing. Sexual acts—including exposing certain body parts—are prevalent. People just seem to lose all temperance, doing whatever they want and how much they want. And, may we add masks are donned as to keep their identities secret!
When the parades are over, the streets are covered with vomit and polluted with literally tons of litter. Do you know what is most pitiful? They claim that this is a “holy time!” Now do you see why Jeremiah 17:9 explains that man’s heart is “wicked,” “deceitful above all things?” They have deceived themselves into thinking that ungodly activity honors God, since they will confess it and repent of it all the next day!
Sadly, there is no shame whatsoever. The Mardi Gras parades are broadcast on television and published in our newspapers. While wearing cross necklaces (of all things!) these revelers drink and party. And guess what? The media even refers to them as “revelers.” Again, they are open about their sin.
GOD’S GRACE ON PARADE
Every Mardi Gras, I am reminded of a verse in Romans: “…Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (5:20). Mardi Gras is sinful in that it involves drunkenness and sexual promiscuity. But it is all the more wicked because this blatant sin is committed in the name of “God!” The Mardi Gras colors purple, green, and gold represent justice, faith, and power, respectively. Again, Mardi Gras appears to be “Christian.”
In addition, a notable confection of Mardi Gras is the “king cake,” which is decorated with green, purple, and gold icing. It symbolizes the “three kings” who visited the baby Jesus. A plastic baby is even hidden in the king cake. Regardless of all its biblical allusions (ILLUSIONS!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God.
Despite all this sin, even when it is committed in the name of “God,” the Lord Jesus Christ in His abounding grace and mercy, continues to tolerate mankind. Year after year, Mardi Gras Season after Mardi Gras Season, mankind parades his sin, and God parades His grace. God holds back that wrath that mankind so rightfully deserves.
People believe they are getting away with their sin, but the Bible says this about their “payday.” “[God] Who will render to every man according to his deeds: Unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;” (Romans 2:6,8,9 KJV). There is “pleasure of sin,” but the Good Book says, it is but “for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
WHERE THE SAINTS STAND
Throughout my short life, I have personally known scores of “Christians” who find Mardi Gras totally acceptable. They believe it is godly, when, in fact, the Bible exposes “revelry” as sin, a “work of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21). Even the Apostle Peter—who Rome claims was its “first pope”—disagrees with and condemns reveling (1 Peter 4:3). Peter forbade “excess of wine, revellings, and banquetings” (1 Peter 4:3). Galatians 5:19-21 claims that “drunkenness” and “revellings” are “works of the flesh.” Paul wrote, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess” (Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness. So why do we have professing Christians engaging the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?!
Mardi Gras is completely offensive and unacceptable to God and to those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Christians should speak out against such foolishness. It mocks our Saviour… even more so because they commit sin using HIS name!!!! As Christians, we are taught to “deny” the activities that accompany Mardi Gras.
Titus 2:11-15 KJV explains:
“11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
There is nothing biblical about Mardi Gras. It is not “sober, righteous, or godly.” It does not reflect the grace life that we have in Jesus Christ. Mardi Gras entails riotous and careless living. God’s grace teaches us Christians not to sin, to lead lives that are responsible and temperate. Sin is not who we are anymore. Romans 6:11-15 KJV says:
“11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we continue in sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
Can the Bible be any clearer? Mardi Gras is not for Christians.
So, perhaps I have gotten your attention, and have made you see things you never realized before. To the Lord alone be the glory if that is true! Maybe you are a Mardi Gras reveler. Perhaps you are still dead in your trespasses and sins and destitute of eternal life. The key is not to stop the Mardi Gras revelry in your own strength. Come to God as you are and He will take care of the rest. He will clean up your life and give you peace, joy, righteousness, and love. God accepts us in His Son, the beloved, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:6). The wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God declares that God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.
No fasting, no penance, no confession, and no self-denial will ever merit the favor of God. By trying to please God in your own strength, you will only condemn yourself. You are a sinner, so you cannot do anything to please God. But, because you are a sinner, God can save you. You can be made “the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). How?
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for everything that is wrong with you. Why not trust in Jesus Christ alone, that His finished crosswork is sufficient to pay for your sins? God has forgiven you and you do not have to go to hell! Come to God as you are, and by faith, rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour. If you do, God will save you forever, and make a trophy of His grace. And then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!