Young People Ask . . .
‘What’s Wrong With Having a Good Time?’
ON FRIDAY evenings, Pauline (not her real name) used to go to Christian meetings. But as much as she enjoyed the discussions there, she knew that at the same time the kids from school were attending parties and dances.
Pauline says that when the meeting was over, she would pass by a local teen hangout on her way home. She recalls: “Attracted by the loud music and flashing lights, I would press my nose to the window as we passed and longingly imagine the fun they must be having.” In time, her desire to enjoy herself with her friends became the most important thing in her life.
‘Am I Missing Out?’
Is that how important having a good time is to you? Probably not. But perhaps every once in a while you feel, as did Pauline, that you are missing out on something. Your friends and schoolmates all seem to be having such a good time. And you? Stuck in a routine of school, homework, and household chores. Life can seem even more restrictive if your parents are Christians and insist on following Bible principles.
You want to watch that TV show all the others are talking about, but your parents say it is too violent. You want to go out with some classmates, but they call them bad association. (1 Corinthians 15:33) You want to have some friends over for a gathering, but Mom and Dad insist on supervising it.
But some of your school acquaintances may have no such restrictions. Their folks permit—or ignore—their smoking marijuana, attending rowdy rock concerts, and even engaging in illicit sex. Not that you want to do these bad things. But you may envy your friends’ freedom to do what they want. ‘What’s wrong with having a good time once in a while?’ you ask.
Man—Made to Enjoy Life!
As far as God our Maker is concerned, there is nothing wrong with an occasional good time. Evidence of this is shown in creation. Picture the sleek, bright-eyed little otter as it toboggans down its own homemade mud slide. Again and again it swishes down the slide, splashing headfirst into the water—just playing. The little critter never seems to tire of its joyous sport. Does this not tell you something about the personality of the One who made this playful creature?
Jehovah is a “happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) He wants his creatures not merely to exist but also to have real joy in living. Surely this would be especially true of us humans who are created in God’s own image.—Genesis 1:26, 27.
God thus endowed the first human, Adam, with the capacity to enjoy himself. He was no mere robot. Nor was his a sterile, study-only, or work-only, personality. He had a real zest for living. To this end, God gave Adam the ability to sense and enjoy a limitless variety of sights, tastes, sounds, and smells. He further recognized Adam’s need for association and provided him a perfect companion.—Genesis 2:18, 23.
So God does not deny young people a good time. Through the wise man Solomon, He says: “Young people, enjoy your youth. Be happy while you are still young. Do what you want to do, and follow your heart’s desire.”—Ecclesiastes 11:9, Today’s English Version.
But does this mean that when it comes to recreation, anything goes? Hardly. For after saying the above words, Solomon cautions: “But remember that God is going to judge you for whatever you do.” True, God wants you to enjoy life to the full. But at the same time, he holds you responsible for your actions. “Remove vexation from your heart, and ward off calamity from your flesh; for youth and the prime of life are vanity,” Solomon continues.—Ecclesiastes 11:10.
Bible principles must therefore not be sacrificed for the sake of having a good time. For what brings “fun” today often brings vexation tomorrow. Some youths, for example, say that smoking marijuana is fun. But lung cancer or brain and genetic damage are not fun; neither are the consequences of sexual immorality—pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases—fun.a It is easy, though, to forget this and start envying the freedom some youths seem to enjoy.
The psalmist once felt that way. “I became envious of the boasters, when I would see the very peace of wicked people,” he confessed. He even began to doubt the value of living by righteous principles. “Surely it is in vain that I have cleansed my heart and that I wash my hands in innocence itself,” he said. But then a profound insight came to him: Wicked people are really “on slippery ground”—teetering on disaster! (Psalm 73:3, 13, 18) Inevitably they pay the price for violating godly principles.
Pauline, too, learned this—the hard way. Her desire for a good time overwhelmed her. So she stopped attending Christian meetings and made friends with pleasure-seeking youths. From there, it was all downhill. “I found myself practicing all the wrong things I had been warned against.” Her wayward behavior even resulted in her being arrested and sent to a school for wayward girls! Yet all this heartache could have been avoided had she heeded Solomon’s warning to “ward off calamity.”
Finding a Balance
This is why your parents lay restrictions upon you. They are not trying to rob you of a good time. Rather, they want you to “remove vexation from your heart” and spare yourself serious problems. However, ‘removing vexation’ means more than simply avoiding bad practices. It also means keeping your priorities in order. Solomon said: “For everything there is an appointed time . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to wail and a time to skip about.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4.
We live in a world that makes pleasure a top priority. A book on marketing strategy describes what it calls The New Theology of Pleasure: “There is also an important trend toward living in the present rather than the future; in having fun now rather than later. People want to live life now, and companies that provide products and services which allow consumers to do this have typically enjoyed remarkable success.” The Bible prophesied that people today would be “lovers of pleasures.”—2 Timothy 3:1, 4.
A Christian, though, endeavors to maintain a balance. Recreational activities are like rich spices. They certainly make a meal more appetizing. But would you feature them as the main dish? (Compare Proverbs 24:13 and Pr 25:27.) Many youths, though, live their lives going from one form of entertainment to the next. The result is often a shallow form of gaiety that leaves them empty and frustrated. Said Solomon: “Anything that my eyes asked for I did not keep away from them. I did not hold back my heart from any sort of rejoicing . . . And, look! everything was vanity and a striving after wind.”—Ecclesiastes 2:10, 11.
No, recreational activities are not what life is all about. Jesus Christ kept recreation in its place. The Bible says that he attended a wedding feast in Cana. Such feasts included food, music, dancing, and upbuilding association. Jesus even made a contribution to the success of the wedding feast by miraculously providing wine. (John 2:3-11) He knew how to have a good time.
But Jesus’ life was not a nonstop party. He spent most of his time pursuing spiritual interests, teaching people the will of God. Said he: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) Doing God’s will brought Jesus far more lasting pleasure than some temporary diversion.
After her worldly fling, Pauline made drastic changes in her life. She, too, learned the joy of being wholly devoted to the doing of God’s will. She now endeavors to keep recreation and entertainment in their place. But what about those times when recreation is needed and appropriate? What are some things you can do to fill those hours? A future article will discuss this.
a See the September 8, 1985, Awake! article “Can Smoking Pot Ruin My Health?”
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Do youths who follow Bible principles really miss out on a good time?