Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written,
“The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (1 Corinthians 10:7).
Sitting down to eat and drink, and rising up to play; how that defines the goals of so many in this world! Over the past few decades we have seen our society become drenched in entertainment. Billions of dollars are spent annually on television, movies, live theaters, the Internet, and many other venues. Even the religious world has come on board, providing services that are designed to entertain. The impulse to entertain and be entertained, therefore, is extremely strong. What shall we say regarding these matters?
It is not as if all forms of entertainment are inherently sinful. In fact, some forms of entertainment can have value. God never expected man to work without any form of rest; the Sabbath rest for the Jews was given to them to provide them a break from the toils of life (Exodus 20:8-11, Mark 2:27). Therefore, there is no condemnation for people if they desire to rest. Entertainment can even be used to other ends; brethren can “entertain” their fellow brethren in their homes, fulfilling 1 Peter 4:9, and also develop closer bonds by participating in wholesome forms of entertainment with each other. This is also true of the family, between the husband and wife and between the parents and their children. In moderation, therefore, entertainment can provide many benefits.
Some forms of entertainment, however, provide a stumbling block to the Christian. Many movies, television shows, and video games glorify immorality. Violence is so prevalent within modern forms of entertainment that few are appalled at what is portrayed. All kinds of sexual immorality are presented, and many are even glorified as ideal or at least expected. Few are the works of the flesh that are not portrayed in modern entertainment (Galatians 5:19-21). The more often such immorality is portrayed, the more people desire it, giving approval to such deeds (Romans 1:32). Likewise, many forms of entertainment reject that which is good while promoting that which is evil, reinforcing negative stereotypes about Christians and their “prudish morality”. When was the last time a person of faith was positively portrayed in most media? Furthermore, there are many forms of entertainment that are sinful through and through– going to bars and getting drunk (drunkenness), dancing at clubs (revelry), pornography (lasciviousness), and even things such as horoscopes and psychic readings (sorcery; Galatians 5:19-21). Has God called us to approve of such things (Romans 12:1-2), or to expose them (Ephesians 5:11)?
Entertainment also can provide many hindrances to proper living. As with anything that is pleasurable, entertainment can be easily and quickly abused, and we have been called to self-control and sober-mindedness (1 Peter 4:7, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). Entertainment becomes the god of many, leading them to commit idolatry– they go out and seek forms of entertainment constantly, thinking always of entertainment and the next opportunity in which they will be entertained. When it comes to spiritual things, such persons are always “busy”, but there is always time for entertainment! Even if one does not go so far as to commit idolatry by participating in forms of entertainment, one must also consider the good that is left undone by spending much time in entertainment (cf. James 4:17). We know we need to eat, sleep, and work, and allot time for such things, but do we fill our “spare time” with entertainment and neglect spiritual things? There is always more to do in the Kingdom!
Many forms of entertainment, then, can provide relaxation and a short escape from the normal routines of life. Let us make sure that we are not approving of sin by our entertainment choices, and let us exercise moderation in our enjoyment of moderation, keeping the right priorities first!