Guns and safety. These are two things that have little to do with the topic at hand except that guns and safety lend themselves as an apt example of the thing on which I’ve been meditating and that I want to share with you.
Guns without safety. As men, we’re all aware of the imminent and instant risks that guns and their power represent, and so there are ubiquitous and reverently hallowed rules surrounding the use of guns. Rules that have mantras, said out loud and everything without any shame: “Treat every gun as if it’s loaded”, “Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire”, “Don’t point your weapon at anything you don’t intend to destroy”, and “Know what the 2nd, 3rd and 4th order consequences will be of every little departing leaden missile.” There’s a cultivated culture of reverence born from the imminence of immediate and inexorable annihilation, a thing to be avoided at all cost. Guns are dangerous and not to be trifled with. It can be sure that all triflers will receive courteous but stern words of warning accompanied by nods of approval from all other witnesses of said trifling. With reverence, guns are wonderful tools, and the merriness they bring to heart and soul is unparalleled. In the immortal words of Jerry Miculek, “Get some!”
Celebration and reverence. This is the real point. Celebration is also powerful and dangerous and therefore ought to be entered into with mirth and merry that are tempered with great reverence. Reverence born from meditating on both the great benefits but also the imminent pitfalls. It’s perhaps because the dangers of celebration are seemingly innocuous and bring the sort of destruction that smolders long before it flames that most celebration is entered into as if there is little risk or we’re impervious to them. It’s certainly because of this that there isn’t a well cultivated culture that leads to courteous but stern words accompanied by nods of approval. There are no hallowed mantras and triflers do trifle.
Wine and words. These aren’t the only dangerous attendees at any celebration, but these two essential and wonderful ingredients are, you might say, the gun-powder and so if there were to be mantras, courteous but stern words, and nodding they should start with these.
Wine. The bible says it’s “a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Prov 20:). If wine is deceptive and it takes wisdom to guard against its mockery, our celebratory relationship with beer, wine, and strong drink should be founded first on the fact that we can be deceived by it. And then that the wise path towards wisdom is found in life on this side of the contrast between the kingly and reverent relationship to beverages that holds God’s law, wise judgment, and the care of the afflicted before strong drink (Prov 31:3-9) over and against the ways that destroy kings: those of the woeful, sorrowful, contentious, victims without cause: those who tarry long at the wine (Prov 23:29-35).
Words. In all the more than eighty-five times that Proverbs alone discusses the consequences of words there are only two kinds, those that lead to life that are wielded by the wise, princes, kings, and godly women, and those leading to death bandied by fools imminently slated for destruction. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov 18:21). While it’s usually not immediate and inexorable, the Bible says that words bring annihilation eminent. In our celebration we must keep in mind the contrast between the fool and the king: “He who loves purity of heart And has grace on his lips, The king will be his friend.” Because idle chatter leads only to poverty (Prov 14:23) we must take care to let no corrupt word proceed out of our mouths, only but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers (Eph 4:29).
During times of celebration it is all too easy to set aside reverence in our mirth and merry making. In our love of fellowship we fail to set guards ahead of time that hedge well against any chance of deception and destruction. God wants us to be a people who are able to wield dangerous good things well. Therefore, set hedges, produce mantras, don’t trifle, nod at courteous stern words, build culture that cannot be deceived. And so celebrate with wine, bear and all the rest and bring beverages to share. But be wary of the imminence of immediate and inexorable annihilation, let none tarry long at the drink and so set a rule prior to entering into celebration that is far away from deception, say “for me, today is a two beer day.” Come prepared with kind words of encouragement and building up. Do not engage in idle chatter, coarse jesting, or any low speech. Remember that pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).