The Christian & Entertainment

By Harold S. Martin (in blue)

There is a teaching in many so-called Christian circles today which implies that the Christian life is a jolly affair, and that to follow Jesus is barrels of fun. Many a modern church ought to blow the steeple off its roof and hang up a night-club sign. They have more suppers, parties, and fun-nights—than prayer meetings and Bible studies.

04_25_13_-_RGC_2013_Summer_Movie_Express_-_Image_-_FINAL.jpg

Yet there’s also a Bible principle on worldly amusements found in Hebrews 11:24-26, and here is what it tells us, “By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.”

 

The Christian faith involves “suffering affliction” and bearing “the reproach of Christ.” If you have a popular brand of Christianity, you have the wrong kind! Our Lord talked about the cost of discipleship; too many of us talk about how much fun it is. Within the soul of every person there is an inner longing and a deep quest for peace of mind. The world tries to satisfy this quest which is common to all men by offering the movies, the dance, television, drugs, smoking, drinking, etc. The child of God does not need the momentary, short-lived satisfaction that this world pretends to offer, for the Bible says of our Lord God, “He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9).

 

HOLLYWOOD MOVIES

There may be some good Hollywood movies. There is some good food in garbage cans too. The theater page of a local newspaper, however, soon reveals that murder, sex, and the free spending of money are the major themes of Hollywood. The filthier, the dirtier, the more degrading, the more lustful, the more suggestive, the more blasphemous a film is— the bigger the hit it makes with the American public. The film industry nearly always glorifies impurity as love, pictures murder as entertainment, exalts nakedness and indecency as beauty, shows drinking and gun fights as normal, and assumes that taking God’s name in vain is legitimate. It ruins the influence of a Christian, debauches the minds of children, inflames the lust of youth, and hardens the hearts of sinners. It is difficult to imagine a Christian supporting the filthy, immoral, ungodly pictures which are conceived in the heart of the devil himself. My blood runs cold to even think of a Christian viewing the hell-soaked immoral stench of Hollywood.

 

TELEVISION

Nearly all of the popular movies are later shown on television, and television makes a theater out of your home. Now your TV set may be a neutral object, which in itself is neither good or bad. But the good ways in which television can be used are highly limited. Just consider the high percentage of filth that is regularly displayed on the screen. Most people admit that the tendency is to slip into more and more careless habits of watching whatever is to be seen, while others find it incredibly hard to develop good viewing habits. Whenever I consider the TV, I am quickly reminded of King David's resolve to place all ungodly forms of temptation far out of sight: "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me" (Psalm 101:3).

 

Brainwashing & TV

From the very beginning, television was invented to brainwash the public into a certain mindset. For instance, consider the fact that viewing television has the effect of dulling down our senses in a manner that allows the mind to be reprogrammed (see here). There are several reasons for this. First, the television's flicker rate was intentionally designed to sink viewers into a mild state of hypnosis. Second, the TV is strictly visual. Therefore it is a powerful stimulus that it is able to create an alternate reality where all of our emotional senses are fully occupied. Third, because viewing television requires no thinking or imaginative effort, it puts the viewer into a passive, trance-like state where they are no longer inclined to participate in their natural environment. The end result is that the more TV we watch, the more of our active state is turned off. Once we are no longer critical or aware of our environment, we are then a lot more open to suggestion and brainwashing. In this altered condition, people are most prone to accept the lies and propaganda promoted by those in power. That's why owning a TV set can be so harmful and should not be taken lightly. If you think keeping a television set in your home is a good idea, please notice the following quotes from big media pundits:

 

“If we can start changing attitudes in this country, we can start changing behavior.” Grant Tinker, Former Chairman NBC TV

 

“Objectivity is a fallacy...there are different opinions, but you don’t give them equal weight.” –Robert Bazell, NBC News

 

Now if these are the type of people that run the media, the Christian better be armed with principles and guidelines for viewing TV programs. Deuteronomy 7:26 provides the following warning: "Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing."

 

Subliminals and TV

Borrowed from an online source (in blue).

In “The Secret Sales Pitch: An Overview of Subliminal Advertising,” author and attorney August Bullock argues the case that subliminal messages do affect behavior and are commonly employed by the media. He proposes a theory he calls "The Ambiguity Principle," in which he maintains that carefully constructed ambiguities can be tools of subliminal persuasion. When a stimulus has two meanings, and one of the meanings resonates with a repressed emotion, the disturbing meaning is repressed the same way that the emotion is repressed. The repressed meaning influences the viewer on a subliminal or unconscious level. 

 

Addiction and TV

As mentioned earlier, TV is designed to deliver an instant dose of gratification to viewers by fully occupying all of their emotional senses. This type of entertainment is dangerous because it can easily produce addictive behavior. Many studies have shown that on average children and teens are likely to spend upwards of seven hours a day watching television if uncontrolled. The same studies are now demonstrating that many adults are also forming these same addictive viewing habits. The result of this is the systematic destruction of the family unit and a noticeable decline in society’s work ethic. 

 

COMPUTER & VIDEO GAMES

Visual entertainment such as computer and video games, even when moderated by wise parental guidelines, is dangerous for several reasons. First, it is a passive form of amusement that easily weakens a child’s developing mind. Scientific research has proven that natural development involves the imagination and physical actions of the body. Activities like reading and exploration either engage a child’s mind or cause them to have to use their full mental faculties in order to derive amusement, while computer and video games do neither. Second, these unnatural forms of modern entertainment are more captivating and mesmerizing than they are engaging. When children must then exercise their intellect, they are simply too intoxicated with the sensation of excitement to make that crucial switchover. It is no wonder our current generation is statistically more prone to intellectual disabilities like ADD and ADHD than ever before. As responsible parents, we must count the cost before allowing our children to engage in computer and video games. After all, is it really worth it?

 

ADULT SPORTS

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Cor. 13:11).

Paul's advice to the Corinthians on growing up and putting away "childish things" can be greatly instructive in the area of sports. It implies that those who reach adult maturity should refrain from childish games that do nothing to forward God's kingdom or fall short of “redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16).

Neither history nor the Bible indicate that the first century Church engaged in adult sporting competitions. Much of the reason for this is directly linked to the origins of sport. The earliest forms of sport were lumped together with the annual period of frenetic orgies and spiritual worship dedicated to the gods. In the case of the olympic games of ancient Greece, numerous pigs were sacrificed to Zeus, the chief god of Olympus, and other pagan deities. All of the competitions were conducted in the nude and encouraged obscene sexual behavior. Notice:
 

“The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Greek term gymnos, meaning naked. Athletes competed in the nude, a practice said to encourage aesthetic appreciation of the male or female body and a tribute to the gods…Gymnasia facilitated erotic attachments between competitors…Gymnasia and palestrae were under the protection and patronage of Heracles, Hermes and, in Athens, Theseus”. --Wikipedia
 

After reading the above, it's easy to see why first-century Christians avoided the sporting arenas and all associated competitions. Indeed, their sentiments towards sports are clearly expressed by Tertullian, a prominent member of the early Church period. In the treatise “De spectaculis”, meant for Christian converts, he strongly condemns the attendance by Christians at circus, stadium and amphitheatre spectacles, demonstrating that these recreational practices contained a form of idolatry, "exhibited violently the passions, and were incompatible with the Saviour’s religion" (Véase Los espectáculos, De spectaculis).
 

Yes, it's true that athletes no longer compete in the nude or pay homage to the pantheon of Greek gods. But besides the issue of pagan origin, there are many other reasons why Christians should avoid adult sports. For instance, consider the fact that Christians in America and the West devote a significant chunk of their time to either watching or playing sports. Sadly, this poses a major distraction from spiritual ministry and the Great Commission, which ought to be the number one priority of any Christian.
 

Another important component of sports is that they always involve competition. Competition, by its very nature, is the endeavor of one individual to defeat the other or place themselves ahead. The ultimate aim of a good match is to be glorified as the winner. But trouncing your opponent and vying for first place just to obtain some recognition is very un-Christ like. The spirit of sport goes directly against the teachings of Christ in the area of humility and servanthood:
 

"But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. ...But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. ...Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart..." (Mk. 10:31; Mat. 23:11; Mat. 11:29b).
 

God's Word also instructs us to help the weak and to maintain an attitude that supports and builds up the other, not one that puts down: "support the weak, be patient toward all men" (1 Thes 5:14). Once again, the spirit of sport is antithetical to this.
 

Finally, there's the issue of money, or rather the careless waste of it on sports. No one can deny the millions of dollars spent by churches every year on building their gymnasiums and sport centers--all in the name of ministry outreach. The idea is that good quality entertainment will somehow lead more people to faith in God. But if this is how we choose to make new converts to Christianity, it should come as no surprise when they get bored with our entertainment programs and move on to the next exciting event.

The bottom line is that sports are for children... or parents who wish to engage in them for the sake of their child's development. Otherwise, it is my firm conviction that there are far too many spiritual prerogatives demanding our time and attention, and sports should never be allowed to pose a distraction to any of them.

Note: For an excellent expose on the issue of sports, please watch this video teaching by David Barron: https://youtu.be/BLov4n9v6OA

DANCING

The word “dance” is used many times in the Bible, but only a few times does it compare with the modern dance—and then it is always condemned (Exo 32:6; Mat 14:6). When David danced, he danced only for God. He didn’t dance all over the streets of Jerusalem in the arms of another man’s wife. David leaped and praised God for sheer joy! There was no embracing the opposite sex. He knew nothing of the waltz, the bunny-hug, and the two-step. No person in his right mind will deny that the modern dance with its dim lights and suggestive music is solely for the purpose of getting the sexual thrill that comes from the contact of bodies of the opposite sex. Anyone who says that youth of both sexes can mingle in close embrace on the dance floor without suffering harm, is a liar, and all of us know that’s true. The dance is an incubator which hatches out lust, sin, adultery, fornication, broken homes, and broken lives.

 

LITERATURE

"And I say unto you, that every idle (meaningless/vain/empty) word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Mat 12:36).

 

According to Matthew 12:36, every idle word we've ever spoken will be called into account on Judgment Day. But what about the things that we read or write? What about our literature? No doubt, God will hold us accountable for the things we read and write also. Therefore it's important to consider the volumes of literature which we consume on a daily basis.

 

So how can we determine appropriate forms of literature from those that aren't? To properly answer this, we must examine the following scripture:

 

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Php. 4:8).

 

The above scripture is quite clear about the kind of things that should fill our mind and occupy our thoughts. Notice that Paul encourages us to dwell on matters rooted in the truth. This should therefore guide what we read. In other words, fictitious literature falls outside of this category (of things that are true).

 

In conclusion, we should strive to read material that is wholesome and edifying in terms of its content, and fulfils every one of the listed qualities provided in Philippians 4:8. 

 

NOTE: Some types of fictional literature or videos may be appropriate for children since they are held to a different standard in the area of entertainment then adults (1 Cor. 13:11). Also, allegorical literature like “Pilgrim’s Progress”, written in parable form and based on the inherent truths of God's Word, are not to be confused with fiction.

 

INTERNET

The internet is a powerful tool. By far it is the most extensive database of information ever devised. At the stroke of a keyboard, we are able to access any kind of information we desire. If handled properly, it can be used in a very positive and useful manner. However, statistics show that approximately 80% or more of internet use is occupied with illicit search activity such as pornography. Therefore it’s important that we monitor our children’s usage closely and keep ourselves accountable to one another in regard to this incredible resource.

 

CONCLUSION

A.W Tozer once said, “I can tell how much God you have, by how much entertainment you need.” Indeed, this is true of many Christians today. We’ve become far too consumed with diversion and entertainment and have neglected our spiritual obligations because of it. Jesus lamented the lack of willing evangelists in His universal harvest (Mat 9:37). What does this tell us? It demonstrates the need to be fully engaged in Kingdom matters pertaining to eternity. As such, the Christian should devote very little time to entertainment and as much of it as possible to the Lord’s work.

 

In Christ alone,

John A.