Do Not Let Yourself Be Ensnared by Fads and Entertainment
“[Instruct] with mildness those not favorably disposed; as perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth, and they may come back to their proper senses out from the snare of the Devil, seeing that they have been caught alive by him for the will of that one.”—2 Tim. 2:25, 26.
1. In what ways are Satan’s methods of capturing the affections of human creatures likened to traps or snares?
HUNTERS know the need to conceal their traps in order to catch animals off guard. Before the unwary victims know it, the trap snaps upon them or they are held tight by a snare. Some traps are baited, and many are the animals that have been caught because they let a tempting morsel resting between the steel jaws of a trap cause them to put aside caution. God’s adversary, Satan the Devil, has created a system motivated by selfish desire, and this system is filled with traps and snares in which a Christian can easily be fatally caught if he is not continually on the alert.—Ps. 119:110.
2. Why do Christians need to be even more alert today?
2 And living as we are deep into the “time of the end,” there is more danger than ever of some not only getting ensnared in the tempting entrapments of this world, but also letting the great day of Jehovah come upon them as a snare. They being so entangled with worldly pursuits, Jehovah’s time for the destruction of the wicked will confront them like a hidden snare that has suddenly been triggered to their destruction. (Luke 21:34, 35) “Thorns and traps are in the way of the crooked one; he that is guarding his soul keeps far away from them.”—Prov. 22:5.
3. How is a fad defined, and what danger is there in pursuing fads?
3 Fads and entertainment have our attention in this study since they can prove to be some of the most subtle of the baited traps of the Devil in seducing Christians. A fad is defined as a custom or amusement followed for a time with exaggerated zeal. It is a craze or passing notion. There are many fads, but perhaps the most common are associated with clothing and grooming styles, and diet. Even though fads are pursuits of a temporary nature, they can capture a Christian’s affections and time in such a way that the important things having to do with true worship and meeting God’s requirement for life become of little or no importance.
4. What extremes in clothing styles have developed in recent years?
4 In some areas of the world clothing styles for both men and women change very little from year to year, but, in many lands, for some years there has been a growing trend toward the more extreme and immodest styles, some even adopting the attitude that “anything goes.” The mere entertaining of immoral, proud or rebellious thoughts is not enough for them. There is a compulsion to go farther and advertise and even flaunt these attitudes before others by their grooming and clothing styles. In some Western lands we find men dressing more like women, and women dressing more like men. Many styles that are now popular were considered odd a few years ago.
5. How can clothing and grooming styles serve as a trap of the Devil?
5 Because of these conditions, how can Christian men and women determine what to wear or not to wear? Naturally, they do not desire to stand out as being old-fashioned or out of style, but to go to the other extreme and let the old world lead one along completely in clothing and grooming styles would be to fall right into these alluring fad-traps of the Devil. He knows all too well that when one can be lured into taking the first step of outwardly identifying oneself closely with the styles of this world under his control, it often is not difficult to tempt the person to take further steps into worldly pursuits.
6. What will guide a Christian in selecting clothing styles and in grooming?
6 At 1 Timothy 2:9, 10, Christian women are admonished to have well-arranged dress, to adorn themselves with modesty. This principle, of course, also applies to men in the congregation. In determining whether to wear a particular style, we can ask if the clothing or grooming reflects modesty, or whether it is immodest and proves embarrassing to others. Tight trousers tend to be immodest for a man, just as short or revealing dresses can be immodest for a woman. When a sister bends over or tries to seat herself modestly on the platform, does she have difficulty because of her short dress? Do we possibly, by what we wear or by our grooming, mislead others into thinking that we have loose morals or have a proud, militant attitude?
7. What important fact will help Jehovah’s Christian witnesses to dress appropriately, regardless of location in the earth?
7 Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are servants of Jehovah, the great Sovereign of the universe, and this realization should definitely govern how we dress. What do people in a particular area expect of God’s servants? Styles differ around the world and thus it does not rest upon the governing body of Jehovah’s witnesses to determine what specific styles are appropriate or modest for each country or community. If there is serious question about a particular style, then it would be better not to wear it. Better to be viewed as a little out of fashion than as immodest or proud or unkempt.
8. How can a sister tell whether it would be appropriate for her to wear pantsuits or slacks in her community?
8 If slacks or pantsuits for women are frowned upon by many in the community, likely some different style of apparel for public dress would be advisable for a Christian sister. During cold weather she likely could arrange to be exposed to the weather for shorter periods of time, or pause more frequently to warm herself. But in frigid climates, where everyone in the community wears clothing appropriate to the weather, such as slacks, surely it is proper for Christian women to do the same. In some places, pioneers have been aided thus to maintain robust health for putting in long hours in service. If a Christian sister is unsure about a particular style, she can discuss the situation with her husband or an elder in the Christian congregation. The elders should not seek to impose their own preferences on others, but likely are in position to offer advice on what might be acceptable in their respective communities. Children should be obedient to their parents in the matters of dress and grooming.
9. What experience illustrates the need to make adjustments in personal appearance, where advisable, in order to avoid putting an obstacle in the way of others’ learning the way to life?
9 Extreme hair styles can easily lead one into a trap of the Devil also, and cause others to stumble. For example, a young man in the United States was making fine progress in his study of the Bible, and he was moved to share with an experienced Witness in preaching to others about the good things he was learning from the Bible. From early youth he had let his beard grow, and since some in the business community wore beards, he felt that his wearing one in preaching to others would be acceptable generally. But in speaking to a lady he was unable to do more than introduce himself, when she said: “I’m sorry, young man, I do not want to become involved in student revolt.” No amount of explanation after this sufficed to clear up the misimpression. After the conversation ended with the closing of the door, he asked the experienced Witness what had happened. He was invited to consider his appearance in relation to what he claimed to be, a servant of God. Not wanting to be responsible for even one person’s being stumbled so as to miss the way to everlasting life, this new Kingdom publisher shaved off his beard. Would you be willing to do the same or to make similar adjustments if your appearance gave the wrong impression in a certain community?
10. How can one, by clothing or grooming styles, defeat the purpose of going into the community to preach the good news of the Kingdom?
10 We must take into consideration that Jehovah’s people are under scrutiny by the world. The message of the Kingdom that they are taking to the people is sometimes judged by the appearance of those bringing it. There is the possibility that a Christian brother or sister dressed in a certain style might so attract the attention of the person at the door that the person does not pay attention to what the Christian is saying, or concludes that we are no different from worldlings in morals or principles. If this is the case, then the message bearer is defeating the whole purpose of his or her field service. We are called upon, at times, to sacrifice our own convenience, to a greater or lesser degree, according to the need, in order to avoid stumbling some. This was the attitude of the apostle Paul: “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with; but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers.”—2 Cor. 6:3, 4.
HEALTH FADS CAN BE A SNARE
11. How can health fads become a snare to a Christian?
11 Many fads have developed in connection with eating and the care of one’s body. But health fads, too, can become a snare to us. There is a danger of becoming so preoccupied with diet and disease that these matters become more important than the preaching of God’s kingdom and looking to the new system where there will be a real healing of the body. Of course, we need to use practical wisdom now in looking after ourselves, and certain diets or medicines may be beneficial for our own conditions, but these should be personal matters that are incidental to our service to Jehovah. Paul strongly counseled against making an issue over foods. (Rom. 14:1-23) “Therefore, whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Cor. 10:31) Hence, do not let food or health fads become a snare to you or a stumbling block to others.
12. What will a practical analysis of fads, in the light of the Bible, tell us?
12 We should recognize that fads, whether connected with clothing, grooming or food, or other things, can cause us to get away from doing God’s will and to be ensnared with the things of the world. Often fads involve extra expense, and this, in turn, involves doing more secular work in order to pay for such things. Fads, then, are nothing more than subtle traps of the great Adversary, Satan the Devil. “So keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.”—Eph. 5:15-17.
NOT LETTING ENTERTAINMENT ENSNARE US
13. (a) How has the Devil used man’s desire for entertainment to man’s detriment? (b) When it is arranged, what should entertainment accomplish?
13 Our loving heavenly Father, in creating man, gave us the capacity to enjoy pleasures of various kinds, including the ability and means to entertain ourselves and others. But it often happens that the Devil takes the capacity for enjoying something good and perverts it so that it becomes something bad, shameful or hurtful for man. This has been particularly true with respect to entertainment. Christians recognize that wholesome entertainment fills a certain need. It provides a pleasurable change of pace and activity, so that our bodies and minds get the needed relaxation and refreshment. However, for entertainment to be profitable, it should be upbuilding and encouraging, not deleterious, either physically or spiritually.
14. What questions will help in choosing upbuilding and encouraging entertainment?
14 Thus, in choosing entertainment, we should train ourselves to ask: Is it in harmony with Christian principles? How will it affect our hearts and minds? How will it affect others? This alertness will prevent entertainment from becoming a trap that captures our affections and interests so completely that we are led away from the faith or ensnared in unchristian conduct.
15, 16. (a) What shows the intense interest in sports as entertainment? (b) What balanced view should Christians have toward sports?
15 One of the chief means of entertainment in the world is either observing or participating in sports. Since World War II there has been great enthusiasm for the various sports. The arenas are bursting at the seams. Fans brave bad weather, travel long distances, and pay exorbitant prices to attend the games. Some can relate endless statistics about the players and the games, showing to what extent these matters occupy their time and attention.
16 The apostle Paul, in giving directions to the young overseer Timothy, stated: “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 Tim. 4:7, 8) Thus the apostle Paul recognized that bodily training can be of benefit to the body, but it must be kept in its subordinate place in relation to the primary aim of godly devotion. In moderation, sports can provide wholesome association, entertainment and physical exercise, which is good for both the body and the mind, but overindulgence in such pleasure can rob one of necessary sleep or rest. This would not be wise. We can begin to take sports too seriously and get involved too strenuously. Serious injuries can result. Sports can develop the spirit of competition. The balanced Christian, however, avoids a competitive spirit that leads to taking pride in beating others in games. (Gal. 5:26) Moderation is necessary in order to conserve one’s energy as well as time for the primary things relating to godly devotion. The Bible counsels: “Let your reasonableness become known to all men.” (Phil. 4:5) Jesus warned against letting the “pleasures of this life” choke out the “word of God” that is planted in the heart.—Luke 8:11, 14.
17. Why do young Christians at school need to watch that they are not ensnared by athletic activities?
17 Young Christians at school have to be particularly careful that they do not allow sports to become the big thing in their lives. Excessive participation in sports can lead to neglecting Bible study and Kingdom activities. The glamour of being on the team, the excitement of winning games, are subtle snares that can trap the Christian before he knows it. Neglecting oneself spiritually, while at the same time one is being pulled down by bad associations, the spirit of competition and the desire to be popular—all this adds up to a combination that has within it the potency of death. “The law of the wise one is a source of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”—Prov. 13:14.
18. If one turns to movies, television or the stage for entertainment, why should one exercise careful selectivity?
18 Can one turn to the movies, to television, or to stage plays for relaxation? This, of course, is a matter of personal decision. But the Bible warns: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) Christians have to face the fact that Satan is “the god of this system of things,” and the majority of humans living today have come under his evil influence. “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19) This is evident when we consider most of what is presented for viewing on the movie and television screens and on the stage today. Producers are in the business to make money, and most are frank in telling you that what sells today is sex and violence. Hence, if members of a Christian family are going to turn occasionally to motion pictures or the stage for some entertainment, a responsibility rests upon them to exercise careful selectivity.
19. Why can we not take a chance with entertainment that is not wholesome?
19 But, despite efforts to be selective, you may find yourself on occasion watching television or being present in a theater where the program has gone beyond being simply informative, entertaining or relaxing. It is corrupting. Will you have the courage to get up and turn off the television set or to leave the theater? Constantly we must be alert to what is entering our minds and hearts, not feeling that we must get to know about badness in order to be convinced that it is bad. There is no room for meditation upon what is immoral or violent or crooked if we “continue considering” the things that are “of serious concern, . . . righteous, . . . chaste, . . . lovable, . . . well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is.”—Phil. 4:8.
20, 21. (a) Why should Christian parents monitor closely what their children watch on television? (b) Instead of letting a program of little or no value waste one’s time, what is recommended?
20 Analysts report that the average child in the United States spends 500 to 1,000 hours a year watching television. Some parents put their children in front of a television set to keep them quiet, not wanting to be bothered with them. But what is this doing to the children, whose minds are highly impressionable? Child psychiatrist Dr. Arthur R. Timme warned that such conditioning has “a very deleterious effect on the mind of growing children. . . . They grow up with a completely distorted sense of what is right and wrong in human behavior.” The news sources daily report on children who are involved in violent crimes and depravity, and it is evident where they received most of the ideas to do such appalling things. Parents, are you closely monitoring what your children are watching on TV?
21 It is observed, too, that some adults turn on the television set and watch, as a distraction, whatever is featured in place of reading, thinking, or carrying on other constructive activity. Often the room is filled with noise, and, if there is quiet for any period, restlessness becomes evident. But true servants of God cannot let themselves become a part of this “Age of Distraction.” Time is too precious to waste. On these occasions, how refreshing it would be just to turn the TV off and quietly read a portion of God’s Word! This takes discipline, but it is greatly rewarding.
22. If a Christian choose to dance for entertainment, what questions and principles might guide him?
22 Dancing is another form of entertainment. It was used in Bible times as a form of expressing joy and praise to God. (Ps. 149:3; 150:4) Can a Christian participate in modern dancing? Each one must decide what he can do in this regard. There are some determining factors to consider. With whom will a Christian dance? With whom will he or she be associating? Where will the dancing take place? What is the origin of the dance? What movements are involved? Does it have a tendency to cause impure thoughts to come to mind, or is it strictly for exercise and wholesome pleasure? If married Christians dance, it is advisable for this to be with their own mates. When single Christians of the opposite sex dance, this should be done with modesty and not in such a way as to excite each other sexually. Dancing in worldly dance halls can be dangerous, not only because of the atmosphere, usually away from fellow Christians, but also because of bad associations. Even when Christians get together to dance, it is best to avoid large groups, as activities can easily get out of control and some may go beyond wise limits. We want to act in such a way as not only to safeguard ourselves, but also to avoid stumbling others. (1 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 13:14) If we enjoy dancing, let us be selective, modest and decent in this type of entertainment, doing all things for God’s glory.—1 Cor. 10:31; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16.
23. How can one who wishes to please Jehovah avoid letting music become a snare to him?
23 Music can be a fine means of entertainment, but this, too, can be a snare to us if we let it. Much of the music composed and played today is for the purpose of exciting one’s selfish desires. Hence, there is a need for the Christian to ask regarding any form of music: What is its origin? What is its purpose? What will be its effect on me? Does my music disturb others? Certain music, such as some of the current “rock ’n’ roll,” reflects the spirit of rebellion and often includes suggestive lyrics or encouragement to violence. The Christian does well to select from the wide variety of music that which will entertain, refresh and leave him with a good conscience.
24. (a) What is the objective of the Devil in setting traps associated with fads and entertainment? (b) As we keep free from these snares of death, what obligation should we feel toward those sincere ones who want to break free?
24 While this world sinks deeper and deeper into the mire of its own corruption and soon will be destroyed, Christians know the importance of not being ensnared and trapped by the spirit of this world. They recognize that fads and the entertainment of this world are like lures to attract all of mankind into “the snare of the Devil.” (2 Tim. 2:25, 26; Ps. 140:4, 5) He already has the majority of mankind entrapped, but he would like to lure servants of God into his trap also, as he attempts to keep trapped any sincere ones who are trying to escape from his clutches. Very soon now he himself will be chained and abyssed, but meanwhile, in the short time remaining, we can keep free from his snares of death if we watch carefully how we walk before Jehovah, keeping his Word of truth shining constantly on our path ahead. (Rev. 20:1-3; Ps. 119:105) And it is our privilege to help those seeking to break free by declaring to them the truth that sets men free and by showing that we truly are lovers of God and not mere lovers of pleasures.—2 Tim. 3:4, 5; John 8:32.