What Entertainment Will You Choose?
HAVING a balanced view of entertainment is one thing. Showing balance in what entertainment we choose is quite another. It is fairly easy to see that entertainment has its proper place, but much of it is garbage and is simply a waste of time. Still, we have day-to-day decisions to make—and they are not always easy.
As we have seen, the entertainment industry does not make deciding easier. There is a bewildering array of choices, but for thousands of years, the Bible has given honesthearted people the guidance they need. Modern technology has not rendered Bible principles obsolete; on the contrary, they are more useful and needed in these troubled times than ever before. So let us see how we can put such principles to work when it comes to the two danger areas of entertainment—its content and the time it consumes.
What Are the Bible’s Guidelines?
A youth kills himself, and it turns out that he was deeply involved in heavy-metal rock music that encouraged suicide. A 14-year-old girl bludgeons her mother to death, and it seems that she too was obsessed with heavy metal. A 15-year-old boy kills a woman, and his lawyer claims he was influenced by slasher-type horror films. A movie about gang violence opens, and there are gang fights right in the theaters and in the line for the film.
Clearly, the content of the entertainment we choose has some effect on us. Some experts might dismiss the above accounts as mere anecdotal evidence. Bible principles, though, bear directly on the problem. For example, consider these profound words: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) Does not some entertainment amount to exactly that—walking, or associating, with people who are stupid, or morally senseless? Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:33 reads: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” There is no equivocating here, no experts with opposing views launching statistics at one another. It is a simple law of human nature. If we regularly associate with those who are morally debased, our own habits will suffer.
Such principles are equally helpful when it comes to the idolizing of sports, movie, TV, and music stars. Although stars often glorify violence or immorality, both in their performances and in their personal lives, their fans—especially the young ones—still seem to worship them. The newspaper The European recently noted: “Sociologists point out that in an increasingly secular society pop stars may be fulfilling the role once played by religion in many young lives.” But note what Psalm 146:3 says: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.” And Proverbs 3:31 says: “Do not become envious of the man of violence, nor choose any of his ways.”
Another key principle: When making decisions, Christians should consider the effect not only on themselves but also on others in the Christian congregation, including those with more sensitive consciences. (1 Corinthians 10:23-33) On the positive side, Bible principles also help us set standards for entertainment from which we may safely choose. The apostle Paul counseled: “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.”—Philippians 4:8.
These principles have guided God’s people for centuries. Christians in ancient Rome did not need some explicit law telling them that the gladiatorial games, with all their slaughter and sadism, were not proper entertainment. They simply applied such principles as the above and thereby protected themselves, their families, and their congregations.
How to Choose
Genuine Christians do the same today. When choosing entertainment, they first check into its moral content. How? Well, before buying a record, for instance, they look at its cover. How is the music advertised? Does it promote debased values? Hatred? Rebellion? Rage? Sex and seduction? Sometimes the lyrics are available to be checked. Similarly, book covers often have summaries of the contents, and sometimes reviews are available. With movies too there are often reviews in local newspapers and magazines. Some countries offer film-rating systems that may help provide guidelines. Obviously, if today’s debased world finds certain entertainment too sexually explicit, immoral, or violent, it is hard to imagine that a Christian would set his standards lower and willingly take it into his mind and heart.
On the other hand, wise King Solomon once warned: “Do not become righteous overmuch, nor show yourself excessively wise. Why should you cause desolation to yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16) Self-righteousness is a very easy trap to fall into when it comes to entertainment. We may feel strongly about a choice we have made, having weighed Bible principles carefully and prayerfully. Yet, we may find that others who live by the same principles decide somewhat differently. Don’t let that rob you of joy. Each of us must be responsible for his own choices.—Galatians 6:4.
How Much Is Too Much?
The world’s value system is appallingly out of proportion when it comes to the priority it assigns to leisure. For instance, a recent editorial in the trade journal Parks & Recreation called recreation “the essence of living.” Similarly, The New York Times Magazine recently said of Saturday night, a popular time for recreation: “If you add them up, there are many more weekdays in our lives than there are Saturday nights, but Saturday night is the one worth living for.” Some sociologists even argue that in the world’s more affluent nations, society is now based on leisure, with religion itself just one more leisure-time activity.
Christians are not surprised by these warped priorities. The Bible long ago foretold that in these critical “last days,” people would be “lovers of themselves, . . . lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) But Bible principles help us to put our own priorities in proper order. As Jesus said, “you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.” (Mark 12:30) Therefore, to God’s people, their love of him comes first in life. Far from relegating their Christian ministry to a leisure-time activity, it is their top priority. Even their secular work only supports that vital career.—Matthew 6:33.
So when it comes to entertainment, a Christian must count the cost, determine how much time it will take compared to how much time it is worth. (Luke 14:28) If pursuing any entertainment will mean neglecting important things, such as personal or family Bible study, time with fellow believers, the Christian ministry, or essential family obligations, then it is not worth the price.
What Your Choices Reveal About You
The amount of time we devote to entertainment will reveal much about our priorities, just as the content of the entertainment we choose will reveal much about our morals and the sincerity of our dedication. Our choices will tell people in the community what kind of people we are, what values we stand for. Our choices will tell our friends, our family, and our congregation whether we are balanced or rigid, consistent or hypocritical, righteous or self-righteous.
Let your decisions represent you and yours, since you stand before the Creator, who examines the hearts and motives of us all. Hebrews 4:13 says: “There is not a creation that is not manifest to his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” Only God can see the answer to the question that lies at the core of this subject: Will we really be guided by his principles in every aspect of life?
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The entertainment you choose says a lot about you and your family
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Are you careful about what you watch, listen to, and read?