Sports and Entertainment
1, 2. (a) What sports or other entertainment do you particularly enjoy? (b) What is there about Jehovah’s handiwork that indicates that he wants us to enjoy life? (Psalm 104:14-24)
THERE is a worldwide interest in various sports and forms of entertainment. Each year billions of dollars are spent on enjoying them. Do you share an interest in these things? Do you, for example, like to go skiing or boating? Do you enjoy swimming, playing tennis or participating in other sports? Or do you perhaps find pleasure in going to movies or watching television programs?
2 Some persons would say that such pleasures are wrong. What do you think? Why, some persons even claim that the Bible disapproves of these things. But, frankly, such persons have misrepresented the Bible and its author, Jehovah God. God’s Word speaks favorably of young people deriving pleasure from recreational activities. For example, in describing God’s blessed people, the Bible says: “The public squares of the city themselves will be filled with boys and girls playing.” Also, it says that there is “a time for dancing.” (Zechariah 8:5; Ecclesiastes 3:4, New English Bible) Obviously, God purposed that we should gain pleasure from wholesome recreational activities. One of the fruits of God’s spirit is “joy.” (Galatians 5:22) And our enjoyment of healthful recreational activities is normal and natural.
GUIDANCE TO ENHANCE PLEASURE
3-8. (a) What balanced counsel on recreation is found at 1 Timothy 4:7, 8? (b) How is “bodily training” beneficial? But what can happen when a person becomes too serious about sports? (c) What problems can confront a person if he gets involved in playing on a school team? What should help him to decide wisely as to whether this is what he will do?
3 To help us to gain pleasure from such activities, God has lovingly provided us with guidance. For example, so that we would avoid the unhealthful results of overeating, God’s Word counsels: “Do not come to be among . . . those who are gluttonous eaters of flesh.” (Proverbs 23:20) Similarly, he gives us this wise counsel in connection with recreational activities: “Be training yourself with godly devotion as your aim. For bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Timothy 4:7, 8.
4 So the Bible shows that “bodily training,” such as we get in sports, has its place. It is good for us; it can help us to develop physical coordination, flexibility, muscle tone and strength. Also, it can refresh us mentally, especially if we spend a lot of time studying. But note that the Bible cautions that “bodily training is beneficial for a little.” What can happen if such Bible advice is ignored and you become totally absorbed in sports?
5 For one thing, it can spoil the fun, making sports “serious business” rather than a welcome recreation. Pointing to the effects of overstressing competitive games, sports psychologist Bruce Ogilvie said: “I once interviewed the rookies in 10 major league baseball camps and 87 per cent of them said they wished they’d never played Little League baseball because it took the joy out of what had been a fun game.”
6 Also, some sports, such as football, can be dangerous, especially when your body is in the process of developing physically. Science Digest reports that about 12,000,000 American children, before they turn eighteen, suffer some permanent physical impairment from engaging in sports! One of professional football’s most prominent players would not let his two sons play in the children’s football leagues. “Parents don’t stop to think of all the things that can go wrong for a young fellow,” he said. “For one thing, he can come home with a handful of teeth.” What has made some sports so dangerous is the extreme competitiveness—the win-at-all-costs attitude—that is often encouraged.
7 Another thing to consider is the associations to which playing organized sports may expose you. Locker-room talk generally has the reputation of being sexually immoral. Furthermore, when a team takes a trip to play another school, one may for an extended time be in the company of persons who have little regard for faithfulness to God. This is something to think about, since God’s Word stresses “training yourself with godly devotion as your aim.” And how practical would it be to get involved in something that could easily damage your moral principles and your relationship with your Creator?
8 So sports are much like other things that are good when they are kept in balance—when they don’t dominate your life so as to overshadow more important things, or expose you to damaging situations. How exhilarating it can be to play a fast-moving sport and experience the thrill as one’s body responds and performs feats of skill! It can provide a joy and satisfaction that is long remembered. And it can help you to appreciate our grand Creator who made us with the capabilities to do such things.
MOVIES AND TELEVISION
9-14. (a) When selecting a movie or TV show to watch, against what sort of thing does one need to be on guard? (b) How would it affect a person if he watched as entertainment things that are morally corrupt? Why? Even though we know that such acts are wrong, why should we not underestimate the effect that watching them could have on us?
9 The type of movie and TV entertainment we choose can also affect our relationship with God. Some movies and TV shows are delightful entertainment; some may even enhance our appreciation of our Creator’s marvelous handiwork. But no doubt you have noticed that many shows have exploded with stories featuring adultery, fornication, lesbianism, homosexuality, violence and mass killing. These may be viewed as entertainment. But how do they affect a person?
10 Well, ask yourself: How have you become the person you are today? Is it not by your environment and education, by what you have been taking into your mind, especially through your eyes and ears? Yes, to a large extent you are what you feed your mind. The more you are exposed to a certain thing, the more likely it becomes part of you.
11 You wouldn’t think of choosing to eat a meal of filthy garbage, would you? What, then, if you are continually exposed to mental garbage? It is bound to become part of your thinking. When watching a motion picture, you are, in effect, associating with the kinds of persons being portrayed on the screen. And movies are deliberately designed to involve you emotionally with the characters, often arousing sympathy for the wrongdoer—the fornicator, the homosexual, even the murderer. Do you want to get deeply involved in such a way with homosexuals, lesbians, fornicators, adulterers and criminals?
12 Still, as you watch some act of sexual immorality or violence on the screen, you may think: “Why, I’d never do a thing like that!” True, right now it might repel you if someone were to suggest that you steal from your neighbor, lie to your friends or commit fornication. But what if you were to keep company with thieves, fornicators and homosexuals long enough, listening to their distorted thinking? In time, you might well become sympathetic toward them. What at first seemed repulsive might not seem that way in time. And consider this: How did the majority of homosexuals get to be that way? By spending time thinking about it and by associating with others who were that way.
13 You may feel that you would not engage in immorality. But what if you go to motion pictures with persons of the opposite sex and watch repeated acts of necking, petting and immorality? What will you be more likely to do after such movies, especially if you also have access to alcoholic beverages, which lower inhibitions? You know the answer. In effect, many of today’s films shout out: “We’re going to engage in badness! We’re going to break all laws, even God’s!” Is that the kind of influence you want working on you?
14 Do you honestly think that you are above being corrupted by bad influences? Remember, millions of once-decent, hardworking Europeans were “brainwashed” by Nazi propaganda to commit or support terrible crimes against humanity. So do not underestimate the effect that the corrupt propaganda spread through motion pictures on sex and violence can have on you.
FILLING THE NEED FOR RECREATION
15-19. What are some wholesome activities in which we can satisfy our need for recreation?
15 Our Creator made us with a need for recreation. But he never purposed that it should center around moral filth or violence, around the breaking of his laws. True, if you exclude movies and TV shows that feature these things, you may find that you are excluding a great many films and television programs. But there are still many wholesome forms of recreation that you can enjoy.
16 After all, what good is recreation or entertainment if, after it’s finished, you don’t feel refreshed or if it leaves you feeling disturbed or upset—as the saying goes, with a ‘bad taste in your mouth’? If someone offered you something to eat and it looked good and tasted nice but after eating it you felt sick, would you go back for ‘seconds’? Be selective, then, as to how you spend your free time in recreation and entertainment. Don’t just “kill time” by settling for any kind of entertainment that happens to be on hand, but put some life into that free time by doing something that will bring real enjoyment and refreshment, something that you can look back on and remember with pleasure.
17 There is a variety of outdoor sports that you can play. Many folks have had hours of enjoyment hiking in the woods, playing handball and badminton, or pitching horseshoes. Some have set up a Ping-Pong table or pool table at home and invited their friends over to play such games. If you check with your parents, you may find that they will welcome your doing this.
18 You may also be able to visit museums or other places of interest that both entertain and inform. Have you visited a chicken farm, a dairy, an auction or a printing plant? If you live in a city, there may be government departments that can give you facts about places of interest in the city. They may tell you about the industries in your vicinity that welcome visitors. In addition, trips to scenic spots such as lakes, mountains and beaches can be delightful recreation, especially when families can enjoy these things together.
19 Of course, there is the need to exercise caution so that these pleasurable pursuits don’t become the chief objective in our lives, and we thereby fail to receive the benefits that they can provide. Yet how grateful we can be that our Creator has made us with the capacity to share in and enjoy such a wide variety of recreational activities! These can indeed make life more worth while.
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Does what you watch have any effect on you?