3 So, too, in our time the pressure is on to make us return to the darkness of this world. Regrettably, some Christians have yielded to the pressure. Though by and large Jehovah’s Witnesses are known world wide for their honest and moral lives, individually some have ceased walking as “children of light” and have had to be removed from the congregation. Their conduct is no longer exemplary. What could be contributing to such unpleasant occurrences?—1 Cor. 5:13; Eph. 5:8.
PRESSURE FROM THE WORLD
4. What has happened to the morals of the world, and how do the popular forms of entertainment verify this?
4 Obviously the worldwide moral environment has worsened. Many in the world have “come to be past all moral sense.” (Eph. 4:19) This is apparent in the forms of entertainment that thrive today. Why single out entertainment? Because we can learn much about a person’s inclinations from what he does after his regular working hours, when he can do what he wants to do. What a person does with his free time, when he is “off duty,” as it were, tells much about what he is really like. Judging from the notoriously bad forms of entertainment that are popular today, the moral quality of today’s world is quite low. But is such baseness affecting you?
5. Why is it timely that we consider counsel from the book of Ephesians?
5 Remember, we are not the first Christians to live during a period of sunken morality. The description of persons “past all moral sense” applied to some who lived in the Mideastern city of Ephesus during the infancy of Christianity. The apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Christians should be of utmost importance to us, for in it he gets to the bottom of what it means to walk as “children of light.” His counsel is truly relevant in these critical “last days” when many professed Christians are “lovers of pleasures.”—2 Tim. 3:1-7, 13.
HOW THE NATIONS WALK
6, 7. (a) At Ephesians 4:17, Christians are urged to cease to do what? (b) How were people of the nations “walking” in the first century?
6 At Ephesians 4:17 Paul urged his fellow Christians “no longer [to] go on walking just as the nations also walk in the unprofitableness of their minds.” How were people of the nations then “walking”? A first-century eyewitness confessed:
“Men seek pleasure from every source. No vice remains within its limits; . . . We are overwhelmed with forgetfulness of that which is honourable. Man . . . is now slaughtered for jest and sport . . . it is a satisfying spectacle to see a man made a corpse.”*
Without any genuine goal in life many persons overemphasized amusement, seeking pleasure from any source.
7 Ancient Ephesus was well suited to provide for one’s recreational desires. It contained a massive 25,000-seat amphitheater and a stadium or racecourse that could offer spectacles to delight any fancy. These structures were products of the existing world empire, Rome, of which one historian said: “The moral condition of the empire is, indeed, in some respects one of the most appalling pictures on record.”
8. (a) Ephesians 4:18 calls attention to persons with what kind of heart, and what did the Greek word originally mean? (b) Did such a condition develop suddenly?
8 Paul described the people as being “in darkness mentally, . . . because of the insensibility of their hearts.” (Eph. 4:18) Their hearts were without feeling. The Greek word for “insensibility” can be traced back to the description of a stone that was harder than marble. The word was used in medicine to refer to the chalk stone that can gradually form in some joints of the body till all action is paralyzed. Slowly the hearts of such bedarkened ones had become dulled, insensitive, as hard as a stone. This did not happen overnight, but was a gradual process. Their choice of entertainment directly contributed to the process. How so?
9, 10. What was the most popular form of entertainment during the first century, and what effect did this have on the spectators?
9 Do you know what form of entertainment was the most popular at the time? The gladiatorial games, where man was often pitted against man or animal in a fight to the death. Imagine the scene: The stadium is packed with thousands of spectators, some sitting under the shade of a gorgeous silk awning. Delicate music and the aroma of perfumed water flowing through the aisles provides a pleasant background that covers the sounds and smells of death. Suddenly the whole throng rises in a frenzy of shouting: “Kill him! Lash him! Brand him! Why does he meet the sword in so cowardly a way? Why does he strike so feebly?” All this organized butchery was done, as one who attended the games said, for “some fun, wit, and relaxation.”
10 Persons who could watch such violent encounters, whose eyes could gloat on such gore, found other forms of entertainment dull and insipid. As one historian summarized, it “destroyed the nerve of sympathy for suffering which distinguishes the human from the brute creation.”
11. True or false?−Since the gladiatorial games are no more, today’s entertainment cannot produce persons with ‘insensible hearts.’ Why do you so answer?
11 An unbelievable condition, you might say. But does not a comparable situation exist today? True, the gladiatorial contests are long gone, yet note the experience of one news reporter:
“Kill her! Let her have it again! On cue, the killer did ‘let her have it.’ He shot bullets into her. . . . Those ordering the execution—three persons sitting behind me in the theatre were, in every other respect, average moviegoers.”
An isolated case? Hardly. The fact is that in many lands the most popular movies and television programs often are those that feature violence. Such entertainment has helped to produce heartless persons, who have “ceased to feel pain,” or any stings of conscience.—Eph. 4:19, Kingdom Interlinear Translation.
GIVEN OVER TO LOOSE CONDUCT
12. (a) Ephesians 4:19 gives what additional description of how people of the nations were walking? (b) What does “loose conduct” mean, and did the entertainment of that time reflect it?
12 The apostle Paul adds that people of the nations not only had ‘dulled hearts,’ but also “gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.” (Eph. 4:19) He also spoke of “fornication” and of things too “shameful even to relate.” (Eph. 5:3, 12) In the first century, again it was entertainment, this time the stage or theater, that contributed greatly to these practices. What could be viewed?
“The adventures of deceived husbands, adulteries and amorous intrigues formed the staple of the plots. Virtue was made a mock of, . . . everything sacred and worthy of veneration was dragged in the mire. In obscenity, . . . in impure speeches and exhibitions which outraged the sense of shame, these spectacles exceeded all besides. Ballet dancers threw away their dresses and danced half naked, and even wholly naked, on the stage. Art was left out of account, every thing was designed for mere sensual gratification.”—The Conflict of Christianity with Heathenism, by Gerhard Uhlhorn, p. 120.
How shocking! It is the very epitome of “loose conduct,” for the original Greek word conveys a readiness for any pleasure. It is a shameless disregard for decency where one ceases to care what people say or think.
13. Is similar “loose conduct” readily apparent in some of today’s forms of entertainment?’
13 Is it any different today? Sexual immorality has saturated the fare offered by the entertainment media. In some countries, pornographic movies have been shown even on the television screen, thereby reaching right into the home. Does the audience respond? In Italy, when a pornographic film was shown on TV, “the city all but came to a standstill while the show was on.”
14, 15. (a) What does “greediness” (Eph. 4:19) mean, and do forms of entertainment today create such? (b) Can dedicated Christians be affected by viewing as entertainment material that features sexual immorality?
14 Describing the context of many movies and the attitude of people, one writer said:
“In a majority of the new films, naked sex scenes—heterosexual, incestuous, or homosexual—are staples, . . .” He concluded, “We have, in short, now reached a state in our society when anything goes, where all is permitted, and where no limits are placed on the appetites of the individual, on the gratification of his desires and fantasies.”
15 Such individuals are, just as the apostle Paul describes, persons who “work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.” Yes, “greediness” (“having more,” Kingdom Interlinear Translation), an avaricious desire to glut one’s appetite for the unseemly and to satisfy one’s emotions at whatever the moral cost. (Eph. 4:19) Could not the viewing of such depraved material affect a Christian’s thinking? One who watched several movies of this nature admitted:
“You never forget those scenes, [depicting sexual immorality] the more you think about them the more you find yourself wanting to do what you’ve seen . . . The movie makes you think you’re really missing out on something.” Another added: “You start wondering what it would be like.”
This may not be the experience of everyone, but the danger is there. Our minds can be subtly influenced.
A MORAL MIRACLE
16. According to Ephesians 1:6-8, what rich blessing had Christians received, and how did this affect their lives?
16 What a contrast that is with the course of those in the first century who genuinely followed Christ! These had once walked under the influence of the system and its “ruler,” Satan, and their very nature had been to do “the things willed by the flesh.” But they changed. The elevated truths of Christianity opened up an entirely new outlook on life. Imagine, God was willing to sacrifice his own Son, his “loved one,” so they could have their heavy debt of sin forgiven! What a great price! What mercy and undeserved kindness! “This [undeserved kindness] he [God] caused to abound toward us in all wisdom and good sense,” stated the apostle Paul. So not only did they have knowledge of the truth, but they also were given the “good sense” to be able to deal successfully with the everyday problems of life.—Eph. 1:6-8; 2:1-5.
17. (a) What evidence is there that Christianity was a religion of power? (b) How was its moral power demonstrated?
17 Theirs was a religion of power. God’s spirit had raised Jesus from the dead to an exalted position far above every worldly authority. Now this same “power is toward [those] believers.” (Eph. 1:19-21) What results it produced in the lives of those believers! By considering the matter of morals we can appreciate the power of first-century Christianity. The ancient world regarded sexual immorality as the norm. Cicero, an early Roman writer, even pleaded:
“If there is anyone who thinks that young men should be absolutely forbidden the love of courtesans [prostitutes], he is indeed extremely severe. . . . When indeed was this not done? When did anyone ever find fault with it?”
Yet the “children of light” broke free and stayed free from such practices. There was nothing in all history to compare with the moral miracle that Christianity achieved.
CHILDREN OF LIGHT BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY
18. By what course would the early disciples show their appreciation for being “holy people”?
18 These disciples had a high standard to meet. Hence, Paul counseled: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort . . . not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people.” (Eph. 5:3) Not merely refrain from doing such things, but avoid even discussing them for the purpose of deriving some sensual pleasure. How far removed was his thinking from some today who feel, ‘As long as you do not actually commit immorality, there is nothing wrong with watching it and discussing it as entertainment’!
19. How did second- and third-century Christian writers feel about (a) the ‘shamelessness of the theater and the savagery of the arena’? (b) the viewing of “a man put to death”? (c) that which can ‘inflame one with passion or lust’? (d) How can one learn to do wrong things?
19 How did those early Christians feel about the gladiatorial games and the theater, which were the “going thing” in the way of entertainment? Notice these comments of some professed Christian writers who lived during the second and third centuries:
“We [Christians] have nothing to do, in speech, sight or hearing, with the madness of the circus, the shamelessness of the theatre, the savagery of the arena . . . Why should we offend you, if we assume the existence of other pleasures?”—Tertullian.
“We, deeming that to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him, have abjured [solemnly renounced] such spectacles [gladiatorial games].”—Athenagoras.
“The corrupting influence of the stage is still more contaminating. For the subject of comedies are the dishonouring of virgins, or the loves of harlots; . . . What can young men or virgins do, when they see that these things are practised without shame, and willingly beheld by all? They are plainly admonished of what they can do, and are inflamed with lust, which is especially excited by seeing.”—Lactantius. [Italics ours]
“What does a faithful Christian do among these things, since he may not even think upon wickedness? Why does he find pleasure in the representations of lust . . . ? He is learning to do, while he is becoming accustomed to see. . . . We quickly get accustomed to what we hear and what we see.”—Cyprian.
20. (a) Why did the early Christians avoid abased entertainment? (b) Why was their conduct noticeably different?
20 Though these men lived some years after the first-century Christians, we can see how they understood the position of a Christian in these matters. They shunned such debased amusements. They could see the inconsistency for those who had been elevated out of darkness, who had removed obscene talk, violence and immorality from their lives, deliberately to sit and watch such things as entertainment. For the most part those Christians heeded Paul’s counsel to “quit sharing with them in the unfruitful works that belong to darkness, but, rather, even be reproving them.” Their daily lives of purity in the midst of a debased world were a constant ‘reproof’ to the people of the nations. No wonder these were labeled by the ungodly world as “enemies of mankind.” Those disciples gladly showed that they were under a better influence than their carnal-minded neighbors. They demonstrated that they had been “made new in the force actuating [their] mind.” And what a different “force” it was! Others could not help noticing. Are not these the kind of persons we want to be? Regardless of our profession, we either show the “fruitage of the light” or walk as the nations do.—Eph. 4:23; 5:9, 11.
21. For what reason should we today take a realistic look at our choice of entertainment?
21 What, then, about our choice of entertainment today? When we or our children turn on the TV set or go to a movie, what is seen? Is there any real difference between what we choose to watch and the ‘shamelessness of the Roman theater and the savagery of the arena’? Actual cases tell of how some Christians have been negligent and have become ensnared in immorality because of what they made it a habit to watch.
22. (a) Was it easy for the first-century Christians to walk as children of light, yet what were they able to do? (b) What further questions need answering?
22 In contrast, what moral strength those early Christians displayed! Despite living in a world where men’s hearts were so petrified they were not even aware that they were sinning and all sense of shame and decency was forgotten, they managed to keep their minds focused on things that were ‘true, of serious concern, righteous, chaste, lovable, well spoken of, virtuous and praiseworthy.’ (Phil. 4:8) How did they maintain such strength in the midst of an immoral atmosphere? Remember, they were just people of flesh and blood like us today. They had a basic need also for recreation. What were their “other pleasures”? How can we imitate even more closely such sterling examples of “children of light”? These are important questions to consider in the following article.
Lucius Seneca (4 B.C.E.?—65 C.E.) Epistle 95, #33.
Go On Walking as Children of Light
“You were once darkness, but you are now light in connection with the Lord. Go on walking as children of light.”—Eph. 5:8.
1, 2. (a) In the illustration, why is it vital that the man walk against the wind? (b) Why must a Christian struggle to avoid walking as the nations?
THE man battled against the fierce wind. Straining with each step, he unfalteringly walked forward. Why all the effort? Why did he not merely turn around and walk with the wind? Because a short distance behind him loomed a deep dark chasm. He had no choice if he wanted to live. No wonder he struggled to walk against the wind.
2 Today, like a vicious wind, the “spirit of the world,” under the direction of Satan, is attempting to sweep all mankind in a course that will inescapably lead to a “chasm” of destruction, at the expression of God’s wrath. (1 Cor. 2:12; Eph. 5:6) To avoid such wrath requires that a Christian, as it were, ‘walk against the wind.’ He must struggle if he is to walk as a ‘child of light,’ and not as the ‘nations walk’ or conduct themselves.—Eph. 4:17; 5:8.
INNER STRENGTH NEEDED
3. (a) Where, according to Ephesians 3:16, must our efforts be directed in order successfully to avoid walking as the nations? (b) How do we strengthen our ‘inner selves’?
3 Where must our efforts be directed for us to be victorious in this struggle? Paul answers by urging us “to be made mighty in the man [we] are inside with power through [God’s] spirit.” Here is the area that we must work on, namely, the ‘inner man,’ what we are inside, in the “secret person of the heart.” This must be strengthened. How? The key is in the following Eph 3 verse 17: “To have the Christ dwell through your faith in your hearts with love.”—Eph. 3:16, 17; 1 Pet. 3:4.
4. (a) What is involved in letting ‘Christ dwell in our hearts’? (b) What revealing questions should we individually consider?
4 To have ‘Christ dwell in our hearts’ would first mean that the spirit of the world must be driven out. How could Christ’s spirit saturate the ‘inner man’ if Satan, the “spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience,” still operated within us or started to creep back into our lives? (Eph. 2:2) So ask yourself: “In my heart do I still enjoy the Satanic spirit of this system? Am I entertained by things that reflect its complete lack of moral sense?” We can easily present one appearance to others, when, in reality, inside, we are quite a different person. Christ dwells in our hearts by letting his example and teachings affect our feelings and actions. For instance, Jesus said that his followers should not look at someone of the opposite sex with a passion for that one. In our thoughts do we obey these words? Do we earnestly avoid things that could arouse such feelings? Consider: Would Jesus be caught up in the spirit of the form of amusement that we are pursuing? Do we have his spirit of not only ‘loving righteousness but hating lawlessness’? If so, we are letting the spirit of Christ fill our inner selves, we have the “same mental disposition” as the Christ.—Matt. 5:27, 28; Heb. 1:9; 1 Pet. 4:1.
5, 6. (a) Why are personal study and meditation vital to strengthen the ‘inner man’? (b) Is intellectual knowledge the complete answer; if not, what else is needed?
5 Vital, then, are personal study of and meditation on the Bible if we are to be “rooted and established on the foundation, in order that [we] may be thoroughly able to grasp mentally with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of the truth of God’s Word, and particularly as it relates to the example of love provided by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. What is deeply rooted cannot easily be pulled up; what is established on a solid foundation cannot easily be moved away. So we must keep our spiritual ‘root and foundation’ strong by letting the knowledge of Christ flow deep into the “man [we] are inside.”—Eph. 3:17, 18.
6 However, never feel that having Christ dwell in your heart merely means studiously accumulating a number of Biblical facts. The apostle Paul knew very well the danger of a faith based solely on intellectual knowledge, so he continues: “And to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may in everything be filled with all the fullness that God gives.” More than ‘head learning’ is needed. It is true that the more you fellowship with a person, the more you understand that one’s thinking. Yet it is not until you begin to imitate that person in his way of dealing with others or imitate his life course that you can genuinely appreciate his feelings. So, too, one cannot merely through the reading of books comprehend the love of Christ, but when one becomes like Christ, then, by sympathetic experience, one can know that which “surpasses knowledge.”—Eph. 3:19.
7. True or false?−Because Christ was perfect, it is too much to expect us to be like him. What is the Scriptural reason for your answer?
7 What an exalted goal! What a high example for which to reach! True, it may sound like an enormous project, but with God’s help it can be done, despite our imperfect abilities, for Paul says that God is able to “do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.” The question is, Are we doing our part?—Eph. 3:20; see also 1 Peter 2:21 and; 1 Corinthians 11:1.
‘STRIP OFF THE OLD PERSONALITY WITH ITS DECEPTIVE DESIRES’
8. (a) According too Paul, what kind of desires can linger with the “old personality”? (b) How have some justified their choice of degrading forms of entertainment, and is such reasoning Scripturally sound?
8 So urged the apostle Paul at Ephesians 4:22. No, do not patch up the old personality, but ‘strip it off,’ get rid of it. (Col. 3:9) Why? Because its “deceptive desires,” which linger in our “treacherous” heart, can ‘corrupt’ or make the old personality go from bad to worse. (Jer. 17:9) To justify their patronage of obviously degrading entertainment, some Christians have reasoned: ‘It does not bother my conscience, so what is wrong?’ Could it be that their conscience is wrong and the desires of their hearts are deceiving them? The mere fact that our conscience does not bother us is in itself no assurance that our course is fine. Even the apostle Paul admitted: “For I am not conscious of anything against myself. Yet by this I am not proved righteous, but he that examines me is Jehovah.” (1 Cor. 4:4) The consciences of many in the early Corinthian congregation had become so desensitized that they tolerated immorality in their midst, even boasting about it. What misguided consciences!—1 Cor. 5:1, 2, 6; Titus 1:15; 1 Tim. 4:2.
9. What disturbing report shows how consciences can be gradually altered?
9 It is easy to let our consciences gradually become defiled by “deceptive desires.” From the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a European land comes the following disturbing report:
“It is certain that about 10 years ago our brothers would not have looked at the majority of films now being played, because their sense of decency has been altered. There is no doubt that the tendencies of this world have in a certain measure influenced some of our brothers.”
10. (a) How was acceptance of the gladiatorial games maneuvered in the first century? (b) What can be learned from this?
10 Ever so gradually Satan endeavors to have his depraved standards accepted. When the gladiatorial games were introduced in Palestine, they were initially received with “terror” by persons “unused to such sights,” according to first-century historian Livy, who adds:
“Then by frequent repetitions, by sometimes allowing the fighters to go only as far as wounding one another . . . he made the sight familiar and even pleasing, and he roused in many of the young men a joy in arms.”
Step by step their horror was softened. In time they no longer were shocked but became joyful participants. Satan’s methods rarely change; so be alert that your Christian “sense of decency” is not slowly altered. Stop and think: How far has your conscience allowed you to go? Is it too far? In the field of entertainment, is your course little different from that of persons “beyond all moral sense”?
MAKE SURE WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE TO THE LORD
11, 12. (a) Why is the counsel at Ephesians 5:10 and 17 so vital now, and how can it be applied? (b) Does the fact that corrupt entertainment may have some beneficial features make it acceptable for a Christian?
11 Much that is morally rotten is paraded before us as if it were perfectly sound. That is why we must “keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.” “On this account [because the days are wicked] cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.”—Eph. 5:10, 17.
12 So when it comes to entertainment provided by the world, selectivity is the key. Illustrating this, one person said: “The greater part of the movie is pretty good, but many always have the sex scenes, so if you want to see the rest of the movie, you have to watch the sex.” But is viewing most of the “pretty good” movie worth the possible moral damage from the film’s “sex scenes”? Such scenes depicting what is done in secret are now flashed before the viewers. If Paul said, “the things that take place in secret by [the nations] it is shameful even to relate,” what should be our attitude toward watching any part of such as entertainment? (Eph. 5:12) Rather than consulting the Jews’ Talmudic list of rules, a Christian must use his own “perceptive powers” and “cease becoming unreasonable [Greek: “senseless, lacking moral intelligence”].” (Heb. 5:14) It may mean our avoiding completely certain movies or TV presentations that could otherwise have some very entertaining features. One of the professed Christian writers of the second century made an excellent point in his essay The Shows:
“Grant that you have there [at the shows] things that are pleasant, things both agreeable and innocent in themselves; even some things that are excellent. Nobody dilutes poison with gall [a bitter substance] . . . the accursed thing is put into condiments well seasoned and of sweetest taste.”—Tertullian.
13. How can one help a person who, with “empty words,” plays down the counsel of the Bible?
13 How good it is when individually we can encourage one another to pursue a course that is “acceptable to the Lord”! Commendable indeed is the expression of one youngster: “I think there is a tremendous effort among the spiritually mature teen-agers to try to stay away from immoral movies and also to encourage others to stay away from them.” However, Paul warned the congregation that certain ones would play down the straightforward counsel of the Scriptures when he said: “Let no man deceive you with empty words, for because of the aforesaid things [fornication, uncleanness, obscene talk, and so forth] the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 5:6) ‘Empty talkers’ could be a bad influence on others. With regard to persons who persist in walking disorderly, the apostle Paul recommends:
“But if anyone is not obedient to our word . . . , keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.”—2 Thess. 3:14, 15.
True, do not treat him as an “enemy,” but stop associating with him socially on his terms. Perhaps he may get the point that he needs to readjust his thinking.
ALTERNATIVES FOR CHILDREN OF LIGHT
14, 15. (a) In the first century, what did many of the people of the nations do to provide some excitement in their lives? (b) What alternatives are mentioned for Christians at Ephesians 5:18, 19, and how would such be viewed by those of the nations?
14 All persons, young and old, crave some stimulus, some refreshment, a change of pace, to lift their spirits above the day-by-day routine. The common thing for worldly people in the first century was to find excitement or “refreshment” by getting drunk. Their social gatherings often became mere “drinking matches.” How different it was to be with Christians! They had a fine source of refreshment. What was it? The apostle Paul tells us: “Also, do not be getting drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but keep getting filled with spirit.” The influence of God’s spirit would produce the greatest delight for Christians. Hence, their social get-togethers would not reflect the “debauchery” or “wild living” (Beck’s translation) of the unbelievers. Since God’s holy spirit filled their hearts, what came out of their mouths would differ greatly from the mouthings of persons “filled” with wine. Rather than indulge in obscene songs, often accompanied by lewd dancing, for which the nations were renowned, Christians would follow Paul’s healthful advice: “Keep . . . speaking to yourselves with psalms and praises to God and spiritual songs, singing and accompanying yourselves with music in your hearts to Jehovah.” These would be refreshed inside.—Eph. 5:18, 19; 1 Pet. 4:3.
15 How boring this all looked to those of the nations! But those early “children of light” were glad, because they really had a different spirit. They acted as one warm family, “the household of God,” with each one using his “gift” for the building up of the congregational family.—Eph. 2:19; 4:7.
16. (a) What effect will a warm “family” spirit have on a congregation, and why should the counsel at James 1:27 be remembered? (b) What is one possible danger that should be avoided at certain social get-togethers? (c) What should mark recreational activities that are engaged in at Christian social get-togethers?
16 So today where such a warm “family” spirit exists in a congregation, there will be a natural desire to get together for meetings, as well as socially, for mutual upbuilding. Genuine love will prompt a spontaneous concern for all, young and old, and especially those who are “widows and orphans.” (Jas. 1:27) However, social gatherings should not be allowed to deteriorate, as happened in the following instance:
“It had been a delightful wedding ceremony, with fine Scriptural counsel from the minister who gave the wedding talk. Then, the couple, with several hundred guests, went to a nearby hall for a reception. But how different the atmosphere! A professional band held the floor, playing wild, sensual music so loudly that several of the guests had to be excused. Intoxicating liquor flowed too freely. The dancing reflected a spirit of wild abandon. Many of the guests asked, Why spoil a happy theocratic wedding by bringing in the world to wrap it up?”
What can be done on occasions when Christians relax or engage in recreation? Many upbuilding things! Some things that others have found genuinely refreshing in the field of entertainment are noted in the following article. The point is that what is done should reflect that we are “children of light,” and are under the influence of God’s spirit, not the “spirit of the world.”—1 Cor. 2:12.
ALL USE INFLUENCE FOR GOOD
17. How can elders and others with “spiritual qualifications” aid those who may be taking ‘false steps’ in the field of entertainment?
17 With the pressure of the world increasing, vigilance is necessary to thwart its spirit in the congregation. The influence of the elders should promote the flow of God’s spirit. At times this may require ‘readjusting’ the thinking of some who become unbalanced. Concerned about the infiltration of worldliness into the congregation, one elder wrote: “As elders we must share the blame because some of us are proving weak when it comes to giving counsel when needed and not standing up for what is right.” However, not merely the elders, but all “who have spiritual qualifications [“spiritual ones,” Kingdom Interlinear Translation]” should be willing to “readjust such a man [one who takes a “false step”] in a spirit of mildness.” Such ‘mild’ counsel could perhaps prevent one “false step” from becoming a continued wayward course, leading to disaster.—Eph. 4:11-14; Gal. 6:1.
18. Why is balance needed?
18 All should realize that tastes vary in the choice of entertainment. Rather than being extremely critical, perhaps bordering on ‘over-righteousness,’ encourage what is desirable. Use the standards set in the Bible. Let the force of God’s Word touch the hearts of those taking ‘false steps.’—Eccl. 7:16.
19. How can parents use their influence for the good of their children?
19 Parents especially are in a fine position to help their children. The apostle commands fathers: “Do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.” The Greek word translated “bringing up” contains the thought of warmth for the child, for the root word can be applied to a “nursing mother [who] cherishes” her children.—Eph. 6:4; 1 Thess. 2:7.
20. (a) Why is there a need for discipline? (b) From the remarks of one young person, what should parents do, and will this later be appreciated by their children?
20 Such concern would prevent parents from being indifferent to their child’s choice of entertainment. Deep love for the child would cause the parent to be firm at times, ‘bringing the child up with discipline.’ Especially because of peer pressure a child may object to some of the parent’s restrictions, perhaps in the field of entertainment. One 21-year-old full-time preacher who was reared by godly parents reflected over her teen-age years, saying:
“Only years later did I realize the training I’ve got is to my advantage, although I thought at the time that I was the loser. In the case of parents, they may think they’re losing their child by being firm. They’re not losing him. They’ve got to look at things in the long term. You know it must be frightening for parents when their child says, ‘Oh, mom, Susan can do it and she’s still in the Truth, so what makes you think that I’m going out of the Truth?’ It must be very difficult for parents to say, ‘No.’ But it’s only after you’re older, many years later, and you look back, that you can say, ‘Thank you, Jehovah, that my parents had the courage to put their foot down.’”
21. What cherished relationship should the parents help the child to build? Why?
21 But external force or discipline is not the complete answer. The apostle Paul spoke of the “mental-regulating of Jehovah.” Literally, the original words mean putting the mind of Jehovah inside as a controlling or regulating influence. Work to aid your child to build a relationship with God so that he will come to reject degrading forms of entertainment as well as all wrong conduct. As one youngster who developed such a relationship said: “It’s not so much between me and my parents but between me and Jehovah.”
22. By continuing to walk as children of light, what hope may we entertain?
22 With all of us, it is between us and Jehovah. So let none of Jehovah’s people forget who they are, namely, “children of light.” Continue to walk as illuminators now, enjoying a happy and satisfying life, and entertain the prospect of an eternity of happiness in a soon-to-be-realized new system of stimulating moral brilliance.