As one of the commenters to last week’s post noted, it’s ironic that a fiction writer is contemplating whether or not entertainment is a waste of time. I’ll reiterate, I believe it’s important to develop our own philosophy of entertainment because our society puts so much value on it.
Somehow, despite the tragedy in Japan, the more recent earthquake in Myanmar, the conflict in Libya, the unrest in Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria, the media in the U.S. features Lindsey Lohan’s decision to drop her last name, Charlie Sheen’s latest misbehavior, and what TV shows made it into the top ten for the week.
Perhaps so much death, destruction, and oppression is too much to bear, so we are doing what Tolkien was talking about — escaping from something that imprisons our soul. Of course, Tolkien’s idea of escape was losing oneself in a fantasy world that showed truth and nobility and striving against evil.
What about losing ourselves in Desperate Housewives or Office, South Part or Glee? Maybe Rango is better or The Battle for L.A.And there’s always the Final Four or the soon approaching NBA play-offs.
The point is, a lot of entertainment does not create the kind of escape Tolkien envisioned.
Should we filter out anything that isn’t Christian or at least consistent with Biblical principles? When we reach overload and want to put our brains in neutral, should we take a walk instead of turning on the TV?
I think the challenge isn’t so much avoidance as it is integration. But let me back up before I explain.
Since my last post, I’ve thought more about entertainment and Scripture, and one thing jumped out at me: the Bible doesn’t set down standards governing entertainment. In addition, throughout the Bible there are examples of people involved in entertainment, some unfavorably so, but none that receives an indictment because it is entertainment.
Samson, for example, entered into a contest of wits with his bride’s friends, with a rather costly pay-off for the loser (Judges 14:10ff). Then there was Esther’s future husband, Ahasuerus, who held a mega-party (Esther 1:1ff). The Jews, of course, incurred Moses and God’s wrath when they combined partying with idol worship (Exodus 32:18-19).
In the New Testament, Paul used the Greek games as an illustration of spiritual truths (I Corinthians 9:26), King Herod’s daughter used the occasion of her pleasing dance performance to request John the Baptist’s head (Matthew 14:6), and Jesus liked the kingdom of God to a feast (Matthew 22:2ff).
Eating, drinking, dancing, competitions, songs, stories — it seems the people in the Bible, noble or ungodly, participated in forms of entertainment and God did not set down any guidelines.
But here’s the thing. He did set down lots of principles for life. We are to love Him and love our neighbor as ourselves. We are to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before our God (Micah 6:8). We are to be filled with the Spirit and we aren’t to grieve Him.
And we are to do these things, not exclusively on Sunday or when we are with other Christians. Rather, we are to be who God wants us to be 24/7. Being a Christian is not a part time occupation. Consequently, when we’re at work, we are Christians. When we’re in the grocery store, we’re Christians. When we’re in our cars on the freeway, we’re Christians. And when we pick up a book or flip on the TV or log into the Internet, we are still Christians.
Our Christianity should inform our actions, reactions, and interactions, even in the moments when we’re involved in entertainment. That’s what I mean by integration.
For some of us, that means stringently restricting our entertainment. For all of us, it should mean discerning how the values of our entertainment stack up with the values promoted in Scripture. It should also mean we reject I like it as a justification for our involvement.
Not that I’m saying we can only do what we don’t like. 😆 But let’s be honest — dirty jokes are funny and pornography entices. If our justification for what we do is, I like it, then dirty jokes and pornography must be OK.
What is an acceptable justification instead? I like it and … what? Must God like it too?
What are your thoughts on that one?