The Bible’s View
How Should Christians View Entertainment?
ENTERTAINMENT is eagerly sought by millions of persons today. In many countries it has become an industry in itself. What is the Scriptural view as to seeking diversion through entertainment?
There is clearly no Biblical objection to wholesome relaxation and amusement. King Solomon writes: “I myself commended rejoicing, because mankind have nothing better under the sun than to eat and drink and rejoice, and that it should accompany them in their hard work for the days of their life.”—Eccl. 8:15.
However, there are ways in which entertainment may present problems for conscientious Christians. Perhaps you have noticed, for example, that many are lured to devote excessive amounts of time to television viewing, listening to music, watching or participating in sports events, pursuing a hobby or doing something else that they find entertaining.
This is a problem especially in affluent areas. Regarding the United States, we read in the reference work Our Wonderful World: “Since 1900 more and more Americans have had free time in which to do almost anything they liked from spending a day at the beach to watching their favorite television show. Helping their fellow Americans to make use of their leisure time has become an industry in which thousands of people are employed.” Professional entertainers are trained to keep people involved. Perhaps you personally have experienced the difficulty of tearing yourself away from a film or musical program once it had begun.
However, for persons who wish to please God, spending many hours each day in such a way interferes with important priorities. It can interfere with fulfillment of responsibilities in connection with secular employment, schoolwork and duties around the home, including the obligation to take time for conversation and for doing things with one’s family.—1 Tim. 5:8.
Moreover, the Scriptures admonish Christians to ‘keep on seeking first God’s kingdom,’ to ‘always have plenty to do in the work of the Lord,’ and to ‘buy out the opportune time for beneficial activities.’ (Matt. 6:33; 1 Cor. 15:58; Eph. 5:15, 16) Obeying that counsel requires time to read and meditate on God’s Word, to attend Christian meetings and to share in public preaching and disciple-making activities. Can one fulfill these responsibilities and yet spend the greater part of available free time “glued” to a stereo system, TV set or other form of entertainment?
Another factor to consider is that devoting large amounts of time to entertainment yields little in the way of satisfaction. This is well illustrated by the experience of King Solomon, who states: “I said, even I, in my heart: ‘Do come now, let me try you out with rejoicing. Also, see good.’ I explored with my heart by cheering my flesh even with wine, while I was leading my heart with wisdom, even to lay hold on folly. . . . I made male singers and female singers for myself and the exquisite delights of the sons of mankind, a lady, even ladies.”—Eccl. 2:1, 3-8.
Since Solomon had both wealth and leisure hours at his disposal, he thoroughly investigated the possibilities of gaining happiness through pleasure seeking. Hence, he asks: “What can the earthling man do who comes in after the king? The thing that people have already done.” (Eccl. 2:12) A commentary on Ecclesiastes published by the Soncino Press paraphrases Solomon’s words in this way: “I, the king, with every advantage at my command, have made this investigation. Of what use is it for a commoner to repeat the experiment after me? He can only go over the same ground with smaller resources at his disposal.”
To what conclusion did the king’s experiment lead? Solomon answers: “I said to laughter: ‘Insanity!’ and to rejoicing: ‘What is this doing?’ . . . Look! everything was vanity and a striving after wind.”—Eccl. 2:2, 11; compare 7:1-4.
This does not mean that it is wrong to have a good time. But trying to find true happiness through excessive merrymaking is simply a waste of time, like ‘chasing the wind.’ In fact, persons who spend much of their time doing so often become hopelessly bored. Each effort to gain pleasure in this way yields less in the way of satisfaction. Some call it ‘the law of diminishing returns.’ Has that ever been your experience?
Bible believers must give attention also to the type of entertainment that they choose. Will it bring them into close association with persons who have no respect for God and his Word? (Prov. 13:20; 1 Cor. 15:33) Will it approvingly portray egotism, selfishness, violence, sexual immorality or other attitudes and conduct that God condemns?—Prov. 6:16-19; Eph. 5:3-5; Phil. 2:2-4; Col. 3:5, 6.
Christians are under obligation to focus their minds and hearts on things that God approves. (Rom. 8:5, 6) We read: “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” On the other hand, the Bible counsels: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father.” (Phil. 4:8; 1 John 2:15, 16) Does the entertainment that you choose harmonize with that Biblical counsel?
This is not meant to discourage the enjoyment of wholesome occasions. Jesus himself attended a marriage feast. There, as his first miracle, he replenished the depleted supply of wine. (John 2:1-11) In fact, opposers of Jesus falsely accused him of overindulgence. (Matt. 11:19) Yet, such social occasions took up but a small part of Jesus’ time. As to his main occupation, Jesus declared: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.”—John 4:34.
Entertainment can be a fine source of pleasure and refreshment for Christians. But they must be on guard not to spend too much time at it and must be sure that the type of entertainment chosen is in accord with Bible principles.