Gods of This World: Entertainment
Modern society faces a paradox: the past century has seen a revolution in time-saving technologies, expediting everyday activities like cleaning, cooking, and traveling, and yet people today seem to have less time than ever before. If we are spending less time than our ancestors in cooking, cleaning, and transporting ourselves, should we not have more time on our hands?
In fact, we do have more time on our hands; yet, as opposed to spending the time cooking, cleaning, or going places, we are now spending it being entertained. We now spend hours of our time watching television or movies, listening to music, playing video games, using the Internet, or out engaged in various hobbies.
Entertainment has become a very large part of our lives and of the economy. The options seem almost endless! It is no wonder that we are always busy: there is always another show to watch, another website to visit, some other music to hear!
The lives of some people revolve around entertainment. They watch hundreds of movies or listen to hours of music. They buy magazines to follow the lives of celebrities and other figures in entertainment. They have jobs and families and other responsibilities but are always looking forward to returning to their various forms of entertainment.
For many such persons and many others, entertainment is the reason behind a lack of connection with family members, fellow Christians if they are believers, and fellow members of the community in general. It is easier, it seems, to sit in front of the television or the computer than it is to build real-life relationships.
The overwhelming popularity of entertainment and the desire to be constantly entertained has led to many tragic spiritual consequences. People expect assemblies of churches to be entertaining and something similar to what they could watch on television or see in a movie. There is no lack of religious organizations who are more than happy to oblige these impulses and to provide a very entertaining assembly, even if it becomes devoid of Biblical content and purpose. Without a doubt, entertainment has become a god of this world!
We are not attempting to condemn any and all use of entertainment. With the notable exceptions of forms of entertainment that lead to lasciviousness or covetousness or other works of the flesh (cf. Galatians 5:19-21), there is nothing inherently wrong with entertainment. In fact, entertainment can be profitable when it is used to facilitate opportunities for friends and family to come together or for fellow Christians to associate (cf. Hebrews 10:24).
Nevertheless, it is not good for human beings to live to be entertained or to expect everything in life to be entertaining for them. Life should not revolve around various forms of entertainment, and we should consider judiciously how much time we spend being entertained (Ephesians 5:16). It is advisable for Christians to consider how much time they spend in being entertained versus praying, studying the Bible, assembling with Christians, or finding opportunities to visit others and assist those in need (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 2 Timothy 2:15, Hebrews 10:24-25, Galatians 6:10, James 1:27). The result will likely surprise you– and hopefully will lead to a change in priorities!
Entertainment, even when clean and fun, should be enjoyed in moderation (cf. 1 Peter 4:7). There is little doubt that many of the tragedies in modern Christendom are at least partially caused by excess in entertainment. When the assemblies of the saints seem boring and dull, is that because they really are boring and dull, or is it because we are conditioned by the world to want something more entertaining and less participatory? What does it tell us when many Christians are far better acquainted with the events in a movie or a series of movies than they are with the events recorded in the Bible? What is going on when Christians know the lyrics to modern secular songs far better than they do the words to psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (cf. Ephesians 5:19)? And why else is it that too many Christians are “too busy” to assemble with the saints, visit the sick, shut-ins, or widows, to volunteer to serve others, or to participate in activities with other Christians, but are never too busy to watch their favorite television series?
There is little doubt that far too many souls in this country are entertaining themselves to death and condemnation. Interest in spiritual things has diminished, at least in part, because there are far more “entertaining” and “fun” things to do in life than to consider one’s soul and one’s spiritual life. Let us wake up and develop godly attitudes about such things, and put spiritual matters above entertainment!
Ethan R. Longhenry