dear shula :: is clubbing wrong?

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dear shula

The other day a Facebook friend of mine posted a status asking if it was alright to be a Christian who goes clubbing. She then went on to answer her own question in saying that if it doesn’t glorify God then no. She also said that clubs are just rooms full of temptation, where the devil is waiting to pounce on unsuspecting people.

If a Christian goes to a club, drinks alcohol and gets drunk, are they living up to the standard that God gives us? What about Christian women who go to clubs in shocking outfits and behave disgustingly? Are we selling God short with some of the behaviours that we get involved in and promote?

I am not sure if my question makes sense but I would like to get your thoughts on this topic.

shula’s thoughts:

What a great question! A topic that has come up a lot in late night chats with my friends, thank you for bringing it up. I am going to zone in on the question about clubbing and will hopefully canvass all the issues by doing that. Also, because you ask specifically about Christians and clubbing, I am going to go to the Bible for your answer – this is important!

The first issue is: what kind of attitude should Christians have to clubbing in general? There is a quote that I really enjoy, it goes something like, “Standing in a church does not make you a Christian, any more than standing in a stable makes you a horse.” A club is a building and so is a church and one’s presence in either of those is not necessarily a reflection of the state of a person’s heart. We all have preconceived ideas about things like clubbing, alcohol and smoking but we need to resist the temptation to let those become prejudices through which we make judgments about people. Take a note:

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16: 7 (NIV)

To answer your question, I do not believe that clubbing, dancing or drinking is wrong. But I believe that the crux of the issue is not whether clubbing is right or wrong, but what the state of people’s hearts is. That is what is important to God. Every one of the choices we make flow from our hearts. It makes sense that if your heart is right with God and is anchored in the Father’s love your actions will reflect that in the way that you live your life to love and to obey God. There are two hearts we need to look at here: the heart of the Christian who looks at the clubbers with disgust and the heart of the clubber.

Take note of these passages:

“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Mark 2: 16 (NIV)

“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” ” Luke 5: 30 (NIV)

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”” Matthew 9:10-11 (NIV)

Three characters appear in each of these passages: the Pharisee, the sinner and Jesus.

The Pharisees were the religious gurus in Jesus’s day. They had the Jewish scripture and law on lockdown and knew everything there was to know about their religion. These guys obviously took notice of Jesus because He was making waves in towns and villages, they were keeping an eye on Him. Christians tend to take either a legalistic or licentious view to clubbing. Both of these views are simplistic.

What was the Pharisee in Jesus’s day, is the legalistic Christian today. In each of these cases Jesus responds:

“Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” Matthew 9: 12- 13 (MSG)

I can see Jesus snapping his fingers in a z-formation as He said that.

Neither Matthew, Mark or Luke say what the Pharisees said in answer to that but I am pretty sure someone in the room must have said, “Oooh SNAP!”. We need to understand Jesus’s statement in light of His whole message. Someone asked Jesus what they need to do to get eternal life and Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God.” In other words what Jesus was saying is that we are all sick: the Pharisee and the sinner are in the same sinking boat! The Christian who looks at the clubber with disgust is also sick because they are blind to what ails them: self righteousness. Self exaltation.

Consider this:

“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us.” Ephesians 2: 1-6 (MSG)

Each of us at one time was the sinner. People who lived for their own desires and not God’s. Having said that I do not believe that going to club is wrong, is there stuff that goes on there that is wrong? Yes! I think it is wrong that women and men drink themselves into a stupor and forget who they are. I think it is wrong that women (and some men) go to clubs barely dressed and get down and dirty. Over and above all of that though, I think that it is wrong that people do not see themselves the way that God does. I think that it breaks God’s heart that people feel so desperate, depressed or stressed that they have to dull their minds and hearts with alcohol and wild partying. I think that it is sad that women use their sexuality for attention – something that is beautiful and precious that they think is okay to cheapen, for whatever reason.

Do I believe that every person who goes to a club is getting involved in dodgy activity? No.

What I do believe is that Jesus came and died so that we could all have access to God’s grace. Grace for the self righteous churchgoer who thinks that their squeaky clean reputation and ankle length skirt will get them to heaven. Grace for the clubber vomiting on the side of the road as his friend zig-zags down the road.

Grace for this broken road we walk on called life.

I hope this helps you along your journey of discovering and walking out what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

Peace and grace to you (boy do we need it!)

shula.

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6 thoughts on “dear shula :: is clubbing wrong?

  1. Great blog! While I resonate with about 99% of what is said, you say “I think that it breaks God’s heart that people feel so desperate, depressed or stressed that they have to dull their minds and hearts with alcohol and wild partying”… I think this might be true for some people – which is indeed heartbreaking – but not necessarily others. Romans 14: 17 says “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.

    I know I sometimes have a bit of a bender, but it’s not because I’m desperate, depressed or stressed. It’s because I’m surrounded by people that I enjoy and we have a kiff time!

    • Hi Dave!

      Thanks for checking the blog out! We are in agreement and I should have made that point clearer. What is sad is not the fact of people getting drunk but the reason why some people feel the need to get drunk (stress, depression and desperation). People get drunk for different reasons, some because they are having fun.

      Having said that, I don’t believe that drinking alcohol is wrong per se, but I think drunkness is. For the same reason that I think binging on KFC is wrong. Mainly because drunkenness entails excess – something that I think God says he is against.

      ~shula~

  2. I’m in the library, studying and I SHOULDN’T be on facebook… so I’ll share my thoughts.

    I also do believe is that Jesus came and died so that we could all have access to God’s grace, so no, I do not believe that it’s wrong for Christians to go out, have a drink or two and have fun.

    However, I DO believe in context and situation and what I mean by this is that although something may not be wrong it doesn’t mean that it’s right or that it is necessary. I feel as thought things like ‘clubbing’ for christians would be alright in places where it isn’t valued as much as it is here in Gtown, where people will go as far as using rent money that their parents give them to buy alcohol and to pay for VIP entrance and all that Biz and as you said
    “women and men drink themselves into a stupor and forget who they are. I think it is wrong that women (and some men) go to clubs barely dressed and get down and dirty.”

    I feel like as Christians we need to stand out and be known as christians and be OPEN and welcoming to others to come and know Christ. not stand out and put ourselves on self-righteous pedestals but living testimonies of the Grace of God.

    In a place like grahamstown where clubs are no longer just places where people can go to dance and have fun but they’re places where so much more than that happens and all that carries on into peoples lives, in a place where there are so few christians and the numbers keep dropping.. I feel like we should be the example of a people who’s faith and trust remains in God in the face of all that Grahamstown so easily offers. It is necessary.

    Amongst all the people in that club getting down and dirty, how are you going to be known as a Christian, if someone (lets be a little extreme) is looking for someone to approach and talk to about Christ, for whatever reason and they see you there (even if you’re just not doing anything) and then they see you on campus, not matter how desperate they are to talk to someone, a Christian, they’re not going to see you on campus and stop you. they’ll remember where you were and they’ll match everybody elses attitude towards clubs with yours. I understand you saying that its a persons attitude and the intentions of their heart, and I agree.. but in this dark place we need to be the light that guides people to christ and places like that we’re not shining at all. I acknowledge ‘Matthew 9: 12- 13’ but again, context and situation..Jesus saw it was Necessary for him to share a meal with the tax collectors as per ‘Mark 2: 16’..

    As Christians we live lives of constant evangelism, even when we are not preaching the gospel, we are living it.
    I think that Jesus had several approaches to his evangelism, when he was here.. there was the confrontational one? as with “John 4” with the Samaritan woman at the well. All these were necessary because of their unique situations.. in grahamstown the situation is the clubs. I think that the appropriate response would be to make it noted as christians that we feel as though the way people approach this concept is a little out of hand. not because we’re holier than everybody. A lot of Christians have a ‘Superiority complex’ and think that they are better then sinners..

    the thing about this all about the time, the place and the situation. . people value these places more than they value Christ and thats where the problem starts. Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, A Time for Everything | says that there’s a time for everything. I don’t believe that this is the right time for christians to be participating in events where they become invisible as such. I want to think of it as boycotting a particular place because of the way it perpetuates certain structures in society.. yeah???

    Gotta work now byeeeeee

    • Hi Jordan!

      Haha, I think this blog is a perfectly good excuse to take a study break! 😉 You make a an important point about context. What you are saying makes a lot of sense. I particularly like the point that you make about Christians being salt and light wherever we are and I think that this verse is relevant:

      “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing…” 2 Corinthians 2: 15

      Being counter-cultural sometimes means NOT doing certain things deiberately as a kind of statement, I actually think that that is powerful. Your point brings an activistic dimension to witnessing for Christ. A random example is people who choose not to eat meat, not because meat is evil but because they are against cruelty to animals that are slaughtered for meat.

      One the one hand, yes, our lives are a reflection of the Gospel to people who are searching for answers and we must live in light of this, our choices don’t just affect us but people’s perception of us and perception is important. On the other hand,how far do we have to go tomanage people’s perceptios of us? Where does a Christian’s accountability for other people’s opinions of their lifestyle end?

      Surely it has to end somewhere?

      ~shula~

  3. LeboA

    oh snap indeed! I totally agree, it’s what happens more than WHY one goes. but, at the same time, Christians must consider what the example they’re setting to others. After a while, people will begin to watch them closely and they need to be a reflection of Christ.

    we had a sermon along these lines at church recently…it was about how we should still be friends with unbelievers and hang out with them without compromising ourselves and if we manage to lead them to Christ then even better 🙂 (even though that’s generally the point, lol)

    forgive me for rambling

    • Thanks for checking the post out LeboA! I’m hoping that every reader sees the excellent point you make about the fact that Christians are witnesses to the world – something crucial that I left out. Yes, yes and yes! The way Christians behave has such an impact on the way that people view God. And please, if you have more ramblings, share them – that’s wise rambling right there!

      ~shula~

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