You Can Find Wholesome Entertainment
THE Bible does not condemn the pleasures of entertainment, nor does it treat the enjoyment of recreation as a waste of time. On the contrary, Ecclesiastes 3:4 says that there is “a time to laugh” and “a time to skip about.”* God’s people in ancient Israel enjoyed various types of entertainment, including music, dancing, and games. Jesus himself attended a large wedding feast and, on another occasion, “a big reception feast.” (Luke 5:29; John 2:1, 2) So the Bible is not against having an enjoyable time.
However, since much of today’s entertainment glorifies conduct that is displeasing to God, the question arises, What can you do to make sure that your standards for choosing entertainment remain wholesome?
In selecting their entertainment, Christians will want to be guided by Bible principles. For example, the psalmist David wrote: “Jehovah himself examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one, and anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates.” (Psalm 11:5) And Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness . . . Put them all away from you, wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk.”—Colossians 3:5, 8.
Much entertainment that is available today clearly violates this inspired counsel. ‘But I would never do the things I see depicted on-screen,’ some might object. That may be so. But even if your entertainment does not indicate the kind of person you will become, it may reveal something about the kind of person you already are. It might, for instance, tell whether you are among those who are “loving violence” or who are preoccupied with ‘fornication, sexual appetite, covetousness, and obscene talk’ or whether you are among those who truly “hate what is bad.”—Psalm 97:10.
Paul wrote to the Philippians: “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.
But does this scripture mean that every movie, book, or TV show in which a plot deals with some sort of unrighteousness, perhaps a crime, is automatically bad? Or are all comedies ruled out because they are not “of serious concern”? No, for the context shows that Paul was discussing not entertainment but the meditations of the heart, which should focus on things that please Jehovah. (Psalm 19:14) Nevertheless, what Paul said can help us when it comes to choosing entertainment. Using the principle at Philippians 4:8, we can ask ourselves, ‘Does my choice of entertainment cause me to meditate on things that are not chaste?’ If so, then we need to make adjustments.
In evaluating entertainment, though, Christians should ‘let their reasonableness become known to all men.’ (Philippians 4:5) Obviously, there are extremes in entertainment that are clearly inappropriate for true Christians. Aside from that, each individual should weigh matters carefully and make decisions that will leave him with a clear conscience before God and man. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33; 1 Peter 3:21) It would not be proper to judge others over minor matters or to set up arbitrary rules that dictate what others should do.*—Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 4:6.
The Role of Parents
Parents play a crucial role in the matter of entertainment. Paul wrote: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Timothy 5:8) Thus, parents have an obligation to provide for family members not only materially but also spiritually and emotionally. This would include making provision for wholesome relaxation.—Proverbs 24:27.
Sometimes this aspect of family life is neglected. “Unfortunately,” says a missionary in Nigeria, “some parents consider recreation to be a waste of time. As a result, some children are left on their own, and they find the wrong type of friends and the wrong kind of fun.” Parents, do not let this happen! Make sure that your children have wholesome recreation that really refreshes them.
But caution is in order. Christians should not become like many today who are “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) Yes, entertainment should be kept in its place. It should refresh—not dominate one’s life. So children as well as adults need not only the right type of entertainment but also the right amount.—Ephesians 5:15, 16.
Enjoy Other Activities
Much popular entertainment teaches people to be passive rather than active. For example, consider television. The book What to Do After You Turn Off the TV notes: “By its very nature [television] teaches us to be passive: Entertainment, and even learning, becomes something we effortlessly receive, not our active creation.” Of course, there is a place for even passive entertainment. But if it consumes too much of a person’s free time, it deprives him of exciting opportunities.
Author Jerry Mander, who says that he is “a member of the pre-TV generation,” describes the occasional periods of boredom that afflicted his childhood: “An anxiety went with it,” he says. “It was exceedingly unpleasant, so unpleasant that I would eventually decide to act—to do something. I’d call a friend, I’d go outdoors. I’d go play ball. I’d read. I would do something. Looking back, I view that time of boredom, of ‘nothing to do,’ as the pit out of which creative action springs.” Today, Mander observes, children use TV as a quick fix for boredom. “TV blots out both the anxiety and the creativity that might follow,” he adds.
Thus, many have discovered that activities requiring participation rather than passivity can be more rewarding than they imagined. Some have found that reading aloud with others is a source of enjoyment. Others pursue hobbies, such as playing a musical instrument or painting a picture. Then there are opportunities to arrange for wholesome gatherings.* (Luke 14:12-14) Outdoor recreation also has benefits. An Awake! correspondent in Sweden reports: “Some families go camping or fishing or take forest excursions, canoe trips, walks in the mountains, and so forth. The young ones are delighted.”
The presence of corrupting elements in entertainment should not surprise us. The apostle Paul wrote that people of the nations “walk in the unprofitableness of their minds.” (Ephesians 4:17) Therefore, it is only to be expected that much of what they find entertaining will cater to “the works of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:19-21) However, Christians can train themselves to make sound decisions regarding the quality and the quantity of their entertainment. They can also make recreation a family concern and can even try new activities that will be refreshing and will provide fond memories for years to come. Yes, you can find wholesome entertainment!
Other forms of the Hebrew word translated “to laugh” can be rendered “to play,” “to offer some amusement,” “to celebrate,” or “to have fun.”
For Scriptural guidelines on social gatherings, see The Watchtower of August 15, 1992, pages 15-20, and October 1, 1996, pages 18-19.
[Pictures on page 9]
Wholesome recreation can be rewarding