Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Tale of Two Bachelor Parties

I've attended two bachelor parties in the last year or so. There were some things that each had in common, and some stark contrasts as well.

Both had alcohol available, with the first having a greater variety of drinks provided. Both had good food and both were attended by guys. These guys were long time friends and family of the grooms', and some new friends as well.

I came home from the first feeling good. I came home from the second feeling sad.

The first, as I mentioned, included a time of eating, drinking, socializing and laughter. After the main food items had been consumed there was a move to gather all together. During that time people told stories about the groom (some funny, some serious, some both) and offered encouragement and advice on all things relational. There was a real sense of community- a sense that should this impending marriage ever run into trouble, there would be ample support to see it through the turbulence. Not all the guys present would call themselves Christ followers, yet Christ was honored.

The second included a time of eating, drinking, socializing and laughter. (Though if you're going to buy a keg of beer, why get Budweiser? Shouldn't you at least get a good beer? Ah...) After the main food items had been consumed the group was divided at tables for a poker tournament. (Quick poker note/ whine: There was a very aggressive blind structure to move the tournament along quickly- thus taking much of the skill and strategy out of the equation and inserting an extra portion of luck. The one playable hand I had, 7-7, though a slight favorite versus A-K, didn't hold up. I was fortunate enough to cut my losses in that hand and fold. Still, with the aggressive blind-structure and the bad cards, and no opportune times to bluff [position, number of players in the hand, etc.] I bought the blinds once and was forced to make a move with questionable cards and thus my tournament ended earlier than I would have liked.)

As the poker game was winding down a good number of the guys present were anxious to get onto the next portion of the evening which was to be a trip to an adult entertainment establishment. "C'mon, hurry up! 'All-in' already! Let's get to the titty!" was heard more than once.

I was pleased to see that a number of guys weren't going to "the titty." (The group I went with declined as well.) Now, don't me wrong, I understand the desire to go to such establishments. I'm ashamed to say that when I turned 18 I went to such establishments more than once. I don't like that there is a part of me that finds pornography somewhat attractive and so I don't want this to come across as if I'm throwing stones at the guys who went to "the titty." (So, do you think pornography objectifies women?) I like Bart's response to a friend that sent him pictures that were not the kind he'd like his daughter (or son) to find on the computer...it doesn't sum things up, but it goes a long way toward doing so.

When I got home from the second party I felt sad and I think it was because the party, ultimately felt very lonely. That was the best way I could think to describe it. As I talked with Katie about it she said, "It's just sad...some people are so lost."

My first reaction was to bristle at the comment. "Lost?" I thought, "I don't think just because someone goes to the after party party means their damned." But before I could speak my objection she added, "I mean, lost, like they don't know any better. It's like they're going there because that's just what guys are 'supposed' to do for a bachelor party."

When she said that, I felt as though I could begin see things more clearly. Being lost can mean many things. It could be taking a wrong turn or it could be not really knowing where the destination is but "it's gotta be around here somewhere." "There is a way that seems right to a man" and I know that experientially, "but in the end it leads to death" and I know that experientially, too.

Jesus said, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. " For the longest time I thought this verse was talking about hell. In The Last Word and the Word After That Brian McLaren's character points out that the word is "destruction," a simple, but perhaps significant distinction.

Jesus invites us to follow him. The first bachelor party focused on the upcoming marriage and recognized that while it may be difficult, it is ultimately good. (Are really good things ever easy?) The second, by following the bachelor party tradition, viewed the upcoming marriage as limiting and this party as the last real night of freedom. Perhaps that is why I felt sad. Yes, you sacrifice some things (freedoms?) in marriage, but marriage is a freeing relationship, not a limiting one. I know that my marriage has freed me (somewhat) from myself and my selfishness and encouraged me to be a better person than I'm sure I would be otherwise.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but there is a better Way. May we all find the Way and walk in it.


Blogger Len said...

Good reflection Brian

2:31 PM  

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