The Christian and Entertainment
Rev. Dale Kuiper
In preparing this speech, I thought it would be
helpful to check out in a concordance the words usually associated
with our subject of entertainment. What do the Scriptures say? What is
the scriptural emphasis? I believe this is the proper and safe way to
proceed. And I want to share my findings with you at the outset.
The word entertainment is not found in the
Bible at all. Once we read "entertain," in the sense of hospitality,
but never the word entertainment. The word fun is never used in
the Bible. The word games is never to be found. The word
play is used a number of times: playing on musical instruments,
playing the harlot, Israel sitting down to eat and drink and rising up
to play (a reference to their naked dancing and worse), the boys and
girls of Israel playing in the streets of Jerusalem after the return
from captivity. The words vacation, retirement, and sports
are not found in God's Word.
We may notice that there are words often used in
the Bible that are practically the antonyms of the words we have just
mentioned. We are admonished to work with our hands: "six days
shalt thou labour and do all thy work." We have been placed on this
earth to work! The works sober, sobriety, and being sober
minded are often to be found. Watch and be sober. Let us who are
of the day be sober. Office-bearers are to be vigilant and sober. Aged
men and young women are called to be sober. The words mourning,
and tears are often used. Yes, Scripture also speaks of
rejoicing. The child of God is to rejoice always. We are to rejoice in
And finally I thought it would be profitable to
check out the words glorying and boasting. When we get
into the area of games and organized sports, boasting, bragging, and
glorying are very much at point. Well, God tells us to glory in
nothing, save the cross of Jesus Christ. God tells us that the wise
man is not to glory in his wisdom neither the mighty man in his might,
nor the rich man in his riches, "but let him that glorieth glory in
this, that he understandeth and knoweth me" (Jer.
9:24). He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. The Lord does
not take delight in the legs of a man, in physical strength and
skills. But the Lord delighteth in lovingkindness, judgment, and
righteousness. All other glory is vainglory.
Now, what does all this mean? What conclusions can
we draw from the fact that such words as sports, vacations, playing,
and retirement are not found in the Bible? It would be wrong, of
course, to conclude that this means we may not be involved in such
things at all. You could just as well say, Because the Bible does not
mention pizza, we may not eat pizza. But this brief word study sends
us in the right direction. It gives us the proper emphasis. And it
shows us that the Christian life must always be a life of balance and
moderation. We recognize that many things have changed since biblical
days; in fact, life has greatly changed in the last one hundred years.
Our society has gone from a rural, agricultural economy to a suburban,
industrial one. The result of these many changes is that we have more
disposable income (income that is not necessary for the basic needs on
life) and more discretionary time (time not spent on the job but used
in other ways). But we must also recognize that some things have not,
and must not, change since biblical days. There are truths and
principles that must still guide us in these last days.
Does Entertainment Have a Place?
Is there a place for entertainment in the
Reformed Christian's life? If not, why not? If so, what is that place,
and how large is that place?
We believe that there
is a legitimate place for entertainment in the life of the child of
God. The Christian may relax, go on a vacation from time to time,
have some fun, and enjoy the good gifts that God has bestowed upon
him and his family. Paul writes to Timothy, "Every creature of God
is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with
thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer" (I
Tim. 4:4-5). That passage is important for the understanding of
our subject, for it warns against legalism and a too strict view of
the Christian life, and it tells us that we can use all things that
God has made, keeping two things in mind: first, the Word of God
instructs us how to use God's creatures and gifts, and
secondly, by prayer in respect to this use, His gifts are sanctified
unto us. Then we use this world, and not abuse it.
Another passage that comes to mind in respect to
our use of God's gifts is
I Corinthians 10:31: "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or
whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." This means, of course,
that entertainment is not an end in itself. Entertainment may not be
divorced from our calling as Christians to serve and glorify God at
all times. Entertainment may not, and cannot, stand on its own feet as
something good in itself. It is only a means, a means to a higher end
and purpose. Recreation and exercise as a means unto better health?
Fine. Vacations and sports as a means of relaxation in order to serve
God the better? Fine. But as soon as entertainment goes beyond that,
as soon as it becomes an end in itself, as soon as our sports and our
hobbies consume us, then we abuse God's good gifts and our lives are
not lives of balance and moderation but rather of excess and
All the emphasis in our society is on having a good time. Everyone has
to have fun in some way every day. Forgotten is the truth that God has
put man on earth to work. Man works as little as possible in order
that he may play. He does not play a little, the better to work. Life
is viewed as a playground rather than a workplace or a battlefield.
And this holds true today, not only for little children but for the
adults as well. This situation is one of the signs that Jesus' second
coming is almost here. Paul writes in
II Timothy 3, the opening verses, "This know also, that in the
last days perilous times shall come." And then he describes the world
of unbelief: "Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous,
boasters," and so on. And, "They shall be lovers of pleasure rather
than lovers of God." The Christian is a lover of God! The unbeliever
is a hater of God and a lover of pleasure! And as that love of
pleasure develops into pleasure-madness all around us, that
constitutes a peril for the church. These are perilous times for you
and for me, and for our children. We stand in the midst of peril!
Our society, wealthy beyond compare, with free time
almost beyond belief, is thoroughly hedonistic. A lover of pleasure is
a hedonist. Hedonism is the moral philosophy that pleasure and
happiness are the chief goal of human life. That is the religion
according to which most people live to today. The rightness or
wrongness of some activity is determined by whether it results in
pleasure or in pain. If you get pleasure from something, do it; it's a
good thing. If it causes you pain or discomfort, avoid it like the
plague; it's bad or evil. Do you see the peril of being surrounded by
people of that philosophy and outlook? Of living in the midst of such
a perverse generation? I will leave it to you to discover how much of
that thinking controls you in your world and life view.
What are the dangers for us and our children'?
There are five areas of great concern. The matter of movies and
television springs immediately to mind. That movie attendance and
television viewing are out of bounds for the Christian, are
incompatible with the godly walk of those who are called to be saints,
is clear beyond any dispute. Is it not true that movies and television
exalt that which is base and depraved, and debase that which is
exalted and good? Is it not true that watching the entertainment of
the world, its sexual presentations, its violence and bloodshed, its
blasphemies against the holy God, makes a person guilty of the sin
Romans 1:32: "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which
commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have
pleasure in them that do them"?
Psalm 101, which I encourage you to read right now, is a psalm of
David, the man after God's own heart. He says, "I will walk within my
house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine
eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to
me." And a little later in the psalm, "I will not know a wicked
person." Although he may be tempted, were he alive today, David would
not attend the movies nor watch television!
Secondly, we mention the sports craze, not only the
March Madness of basketball tournaments, but the year-round sports
activities of the world, the proliferation of professional sports
teams. I am afraid that sports have a strangle-grip on many of us. I
read in the Grand Rapids Press a few weeks ago a quote from a
baseball fan: "opening day is a holy day for us who worship in
baseball parks." Now we may shake our heads at the audacity of such a
statement, but that is literally true for millions of people. Their
churches, well attended on the Sabbath, are the stadiums, arenas, and
ball parks of the land. Their gods are the ball players. And their
offerings to these gods enable the players to have salaries of
millions of dollars a year. Life without sports would be inconceivable
to them. Life simply would not be worthwhile if they could not
fanatically attach themselves to some team, and cheer their hearts out
for their idols. Does it make sense that the Christian put his dollars
in the pockets of these godless athletes? Does it please God that the
Christian yell himself hoarse at home run, a touchdown, or a
three-pointer? Does it belong to the Christian witness that he blend
his voice with the voices of ten thousand unbelievers, in the praise
of man, man's abilities, man at his very worst'?
Professional sports, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, MLB
or any other letters you care to mention, all professional sports, are
under the curse of God. And 99%, if not 100%, of these athletes are
under the curse of God as well. It is sad, then, that our children
like to line up to shake hands with these so-called stars and get
their autographs. It is sad, then, when our children know the names
and statistics of these profane people better than the books of the
Bible, and the names of the prophets, the kings, and the apostles. Can
we say it with David, "I will not know a wicked person; him that hath
an high look and a proud heart, I will not suffer"?
Thirdly, the music that is being produced and
distributed by the most vile creatures on God's earth belongs to the
perils that surround us, and constitute a peril for our young people
especially. The night before this lecture was given, a rock group gave
a "concert" in a downtown arena. It was reported the next day that,
after ripping pages from the Bible and stomping upon them on the
floor, these so-called musicians sang songs which encouraged young
people to use dope, engage in promiscuous sex, and even to kill their
parents or anyone they felt like killing. And today learned men and
women discuss the question whether the entertainment industry in the
United States has anything to do with violence in public schools!
Parents, do you know what your children are listening to? Children, do
you think you can listen to these perversions of God's good gift of
music, and not be influenced?
Fourthly, we ought to be aware that the
entertainment craze is having its effect in the worship services of
many churches. Church members are viewed as consumers, and you have to
give the consumer what he wants. What he wants is to be entertained!
God must be presented as a consumer-friendly God. Do not talk about
His holiness, His wrath and His justice; talk exclusively of His love.
Present God as a nice old man, who is always there to help you and
make you happy. Much of today's worship is oriented to the idea of
entertainment. The people must have a jolly good time or they will
leave the church and go to one which has a better band, a funnier
preacher, a bigger stage, and more brilliant lighting effects. Edward
Farley, writing in Christianity Today, comments that
"contemporary worship creates a tone that is casual, comfortable,
chatty, busy, humorous, pleasant, and at times even cute." He goes on
to say that "If the seraphim would adopt this Sunday morning mood,
they would be addressing God not as 'holy, holy, holy' but as 'nice,
I know this to be true from personal experience. I
was sent out to preach to a group that was showing an interest in our
churches, and before I went on the pulpit I was told to tell a few
jokes, for the people appreciated some humour mixed in with the
message. Well, of course, I could only say that if he could show me
some jokes in the Bible, I might be able to tell a joke or two. Can
you imagine? Can you picture Isaiah telling the people some jokes
before he went on to speak of the captivity. Or Jeremiah beginning his
message with the words, "We're going to have a good time tonight"? In
many circles, a successful, effective worship service is measured by
the extent to which the people have been entertained.
The fifth danger that I want to mention is the
peril presented to us in regard to breaking the Sabbath Day with our
vacation and travel plans. The desire to be entertained, and to be
entertained in new and different ways, can easily lead us to break the
Sabbath. We have all this surplus money. We have all this free time.
Not just two or three weeks off per year to get away from the pressure
of the shop or the office, but six, eight, ten weeks of vacation a
year. And then there is retirement, and early retirement. What
to do? The Fourth Commandment rings down through the corridors of
time: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Commenting on the
Fourth Commandment, the prophet Isaiah was inspired to write, "If thou
turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my
holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, and holy of the Lord,
honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thy own ways, nor finding
thine own pleasure, not speaking thine own words ..." and then the
prophet speaks God's words of blessing upon those who keep the Sabbath
holy (Isa. 58:13-14). He speaks of a great contrast between our
pleasure and God's pleasure; our ways and God's ways; our words and
God's words. All in regard to the day of rest!
It is a fact of travel today that you get the
lowest airfares if you are willing to stay somewhere over Saturday
night, it is a fact of tourism that most cabins rent from Saturday
noon to Saturday noon. It is a fact that most ship cruises operate
from Sunday to Sunday. But it is also a fact, it is an everlasting
truth, that we are to keep the Sabbath holy, consecrated to the Lord,
by ceasing from our ordinary labours and pleasures, and by entering
into the rest that our Lord Jesus Christ has gained for us on the
cross! As God rested from His work of creation and enjoyed that
perfect work on the seventh day, so we are to rest from our earthly
labours and enter into the enjoyment of God's perfect work of
redemption. Someone will say, But I go to church on my long, far-off
vacations. Yes, the world is full of churches. But the world is not
full of churches where you can really rest in the Lord by hearing the
truth of the gospel.
Recently some of our churches had people missing to
the extent of a quarter or a third of their memberships. Do you know
what is going to happen? I predict that, in just a generation or two,
so many people will be absent from special service, and perhaps even
from some Sunday services, that several congregations will come
together in one building to have a joint worship service. That has
already happened in some denominations. The people simply do not come!
Unless this trend is reversed, unless we change our attitudes and
practices regarding vacations and entertainment on the Sabbath, the
same thing is going to happen to us. Do not forget that old saying,
"Where we walk, our children will run." When our children inherit our
wealth, and add to that wealth themselves, when our children notice
our example and must live in a generation more pleasure-crazed than
our own, what do you expect they will do?
It is time to ask the question, Does the antithesis
enter in here? What does the truth of the antithesis say to you and to
me about entertainment and its proper place in our lives?
The antithesis is a truth that is dear to the
Reformed believer because the antithesis spells his spiritual safety.
That God's grace is particular, always saving, for the elect alone and
never for the reprobate, is of extreme importance for the living out
of this vital doctrine.
The antithesis is the absolute spiritual separation
that God has established between the church and the world, between
those who are in Christ and those who are outside of Christ, between
the believer and the unbeliever. God has called us out of the darkness
of unbelief, misery, and death, into His marvellous light. God has
made between the church and the world a cleavage of such a nature that
it can be bridged by nothing! Having made righteous discrimination
between men in eternal predestination, God establishes this cleavage
by the power of His grace down through the history of the human race.
What a power that is, that God sets vast elements of the children of
Adam at enmity with one another! This is not a physical separation,
but a spiritual one - though, to be sure, it implies a certain measure
of physical separation as well, in that the child of God is not found
in all the places where the child of darkness is found.
The life of the antithesis does not call us to
world flight. We are called to be in this world, but not of this
world. As children of light we are called to be God's party in the
midst of a dark, perishing world. The only fleeing we engage in is the
fleeing from sin and the very appearance of sin.
Psalm 16:5-6 we read, "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance
and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me
in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." The child of God
has a wonderful inheritance, and that inheritance is God Himself. God
gives Himself to us in Jesus Christ, in all His majesty, power,
riches, and splendour. And God has drawn lines for us in our lives.
Those lines in the Old Testament were the property lines that defined
the exact piece of ground that each Israelite inherited in Canaan. God
forbade that those lines be changed or that property be sold. For us,
those lines which have fallen to us in pleasant places are our
children, our doctrines, our practices drawn out of those doctrines,
our place in the church of Christ and in the congregations, and
ultimately our place in the heavenly Canaan. God has drawn lines for
us. They have been measured out unto us with gracious care! And this
means that we must always be busy drawing lines in our lives and in
the lives or our children, lines of very definite demarcation.
The question is, Where do we draw the lines? The
question is not, Where does my church draw the lines? We know the
answer to that question. The preaching we hear every Sabbath Day draws
the lines of doctrine and life biblically and sharply. Besides, you
can read all about these things in our magazines and pamphlets. But
where do you, and where do I, draw the lines personally and
daily in our lives and the lives of our families?
It goes almost without saying that we must draw the
lines of demarcation sharply, indelibly, and without compromise
exactly where God draws the lines in His revelation to us. And then we
must stick to those lines, and make them stick, without
removing the ancient landmarks. James writes (4:4) that the friendship
of the world is enmity with God, and whosoever is the friend of the
world is the enemy of God. Paul writes in
II Corinthians 6:14-18 (the classic text for the antithesis) that
we are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, that we
are to come out from among them and be separate, that we are not to
touch the unclean thing. There you have it. God, Christ, the elect
angels, and elect believers—all these stand on one side of the line of
the antithesis as covenant friends! On the other side is the devil,
fallen angels, unbelievers, all that love and make the lie.
Now, whom are you going to invite to cross over and
stand with you? Who will be your friend? With whom will you have
fellowship, communion, concord, part—to use the words of the apostle.
That is the great issue in dating, courtship, and marriage, is it not?
But that is also the issue in this whole area of entertainment. Whom
do you invite into your home to entertain you and your children
electronically? "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I
will set no wicked thing before mine eyes," says David. Whom are you
always going to be talking about and admiring" "Him that hath an high
look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the
faithful of the land," says the man after God's own heart.
Our conclusion is that the enmity that God has
placed between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent at
the very beginning, the antithesis that God maintains between the
church and the world down through the ages, must be applied by
the Christian in every area of life, and in these last days
increasingly to the area of entertainment. The place of entertainment
in the Christian life is really very small in that we are placed on
earth to work. The problems that entertainment present us are really
not so difficult if we remember that we are not citizens of this
world, with worldly expectations, goals, and values; we are pilgrims
and strangers on the earth as our fathers were. Our citizenship is in
the kingdom of heaven. We declare plainly that we seek a better
country, that is, a heavenly, and do not even expect to find any
satisfaction in these desert wastes. And because God is not ashamed to
be called our God (Heb.
11:16), we confess, "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is
none upon earth that I desire besides Thee!"
As for biblical direction in the matter of
entertainment, we offer for your consideration three broad guidelines.
First of all, everyone recognizes that in regard to some of the things
that have been mentioned (but not all of them) there is room for the
exercise of Christian liberty. Members of the body of Christ differ as
to wealth, abilities, and callings in life. With these differences
come varying opportunities, and no one may make rules to force
everyone into the same mould. The people of God are alike in two
respects: everyone must confess the same truth and everyone must walk
according to God's commandments. For the rest, there is abundant room
for variation and liberty.
Two passages come to mind in this regard. Paul
writes to the Galatians (5:1), "Stand fast therefore in the liberty
wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with
the yoke of bondage." He is combating the legalism of some in the
churches whereby they were trying to establish part of their
righteousness before God by the works of the law, especially
circumcision. But Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law,
being made a curse for us; He has fulfilled all righteousness, and
therefore we are called to walk in the glorious liberty of the
children of God. On the other hand, there is the warning of
Galatians 5:13, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty;
only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve
one another," and the warning of
I Peter 2:16, "As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of
maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
In other words, Holy Scripture warns us against two
great errors, legalism and antinomianism. Legalism is the scrupulous
keeping of law and precept with the idea of establishing one's own
righteousness before God. And antinomianism is total disregard for the
law of God. The law of God must not be read in church or preached on
according to the Catechism because Christ has fulfilled the law, and I
am completely free from the law! Both positions are wrong, and both
are wrong as guidelines in the areas of entertainment. But the great
danger for the church and for the believer in this present time is not
legalism. Do not ever think it. The great danger is antinomianism. No
law for the Christian! Lawlessness is the spirit of these last times,
and that spirit must not infect the churches. We are not free from
the law, but we are free under the law! That truth is so beautifully
Psalm 119:45, "And I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy
precepts." That is the first guideline. Walking at liberty with the
law of God in our hearts as our faithful guide.
Secondly, because of the emphasis that
Psalm 101 places upon the home and the sanctified character of the
Christian home, somehow we must reclaim our homes and bring them more
in line with the biblical example. Many of our homes have
entertainment centres, a big cabinet or set of shelves, on which are
placed a television set, a VCR, a tape deck, a CD player, and perhaps
a computer with a pile of electronic games. Two things stand out here:
first, the very presence of these centres suggests way too much
emphasis on entertainment; and secondly, they encourage the wrong kind
of entertainment. Also, the use of these things draws us away from
each other and from having fellowship with each other. Television
viewing and endless computer games are very individualistic.
Interaction of parents with children, and children with the other
children can be very severely damaged.
The table with the family gathered around it
talking—that used to be the centre of the home. The bookcase with good
books and religious magazines—that used to be the place to which we
turned when we had a few extra minutes. But more and more our children
and young people are not reading and are not studying. They tend to
view the home merely as the place to be if you do not have any place
else to go. Home is the place of last resort. Being home is bad;
being on the go, that is really living. Oh, no! God puts you in a
home with your family. There He will give you joy and pleasure.
So the second guideline in the matter of entertainment is having a
strong Christian home and family where God is known, feared, and
Thirdly, something ought to be said about role
models, since that is a word that keeps coming up in the media. Who
will be the models after which we and our children pattern ourselves?
To whom do we look up, and to whom do we point our children? God does
not allow a professional athlete to be a role model for the Christian
of any age. God does not allow an actor, actress, or worldly musician
to fill this function for us either. We do need worthy examples to
follow. We are to be followers (imitators) of God as dear children (Eph.
5:1). Christ has left us an example that we should follow His
Peter 2:21). We are to follow the apostle Paul and those who are
like him (Phil. 3:17). Clearly, the role models we must follow are
found in the church, not in the world. The elders, the deacons, the
pastors, the saints! Closer to home, godly fathers by word and example
show the boys and young men what the Christian life is all about.
Mothers of meek and quiet spirit reveal to the girls and young women
how they are to conduct themselves. "Mine eyes shall be upon the
faithful of the land," says David. "They shall dwell with me."
Can the Christian have fun? Yes. Really, he is the
only one who can enjoy life and see good days. God has put him on the
right side of the antithesis, and God keeps him there. He has a good
conscience as he experiences the liberty that is in Christ Jesus. He
is a member of the kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the
It was suggested that the questions submitted in
writing after the speech and the answers given to them, be included in
this pamphlet. The dozen or so questions fall into four distinct
What about vacations where we cannot worship in our Protestant
we observe the Sabbath while on vacation?
are your thoughts concerning vacationing over Sunday away from our
Protestant Reformed Churches?
type of discipline should be taken in the Protestant Reformed
Churches for members who are absent for months at a time?
These questions show that there is a real problem
in the churches in regard to keeping the Sabbath holy and vacationing.
We confess that we do not know the answers to all the questions that
come up in this regard. We are aware that at least two consistories
have addressed pastoral letters to their members, warning them against
this trend and pointing out the dangers that are involved. These
issues are also addressed regularly in the preaching of the gospel:
the delight of the Sabbath properly kept is set forth, and the evil of
Sabbath-breaking is warned against. By some these warnings are being
This situation presents great difficulties for the
elders. The first difficulty concerns consistency. How can the
elders call upon those whose church attendance is spotty when everyone
knows there are others who are elsewhere for two, four, or six months
a year? The second difficulty concerns office-bearer
nominations. How can men be nominated for the offices if they are not
present in the congregation to do the work required, and to be good
examples to the flock? Anything that strikes at the well-being of the
congregation and interferes with the marks of the true church
(faithful preaching, proper partaking of sacraments, and Christian
discipline) is clearly wrong. The problem of poor church attendance
must be addressed, the evil must be rooted out, and this can best be
accomplished on the individual, personal level. Perhaps the following
will be helpful:
1. Long absences from the congregation remove one
from the supervision or oversight of the elders. Although the promise
is made at confession of faith that one will submit himself to the
government of the church, some willingly place themselves in a
position where this becomes impossible. The elders are caretakers of
our souls. Through them Christ works our spiritual welfare and safety.
2. Long absences from the congregation deprive one
of the pure preaching of the Word of God. We find it ironic that when
some return home from their long vacations they remark how good it is
to hear sound, Reformed preaching again. Or we find it discouraging
when others talk about the good preaching they have heard in church
which differ radically from ours in doctrine, life, and worship. Have
they no discernment? Do they not care? Let those who find it easy to
worship in any church where they happen to be ask themselves the
question, "Why do I have my membership in the Protestant Reformed
Churches?" Doesn't the answer to that question mean that we are in our
churches as much as possible?
3. Those long absences prevent the faithful use of
the sacraments. The Lord's Supper is celebrated in the congregation.
Babies are born and presented for baptism. But these important signs
and seals of the righteousness that is by faith are often missed by
some. Further, we hear reports that some members take communion in
other churches. This is wrong! One implication of our practice of
guarding the holy table from being profaned by exercising "close
communion" (allowing non-PRs to partake with us only after an
interview with the elders to examine confession and walk) is that we
do not partake in other churches either. How can we
individualistically partake with others who cannot partake with us at
home? How can we partake with those who work on Sunday, or are union
members, or are divorced and remarried, or disagree with our doctrinal
positions? Is this lack of good order, perhaps a chafing under our
practice of "close communion"?
4. Long absences from the congregation do much
damage to the communion of the saints. "But now God has set the
members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him" (I
Cor 12:18). Although the apostle has in view the body as the
church of Christ in all ages and places, his teaching also applies to
the local congregation as a manifestation of the body of Christ.
God has placed us: there we are to suffer and rejoice with
fellow believers. But when we are elsewhere, saints are hospitalised
and unvisited by us. Saints die and families are not comforted by us.
Babies are born, marriages entered into, confessions of faith made—all
of this without the knowledge of those who are who knows where.
5. May we never be gone from our congregation? We
would never want to make such a rule. Certainly we may visit with
relatives from time to time, perhaps worshiping with them on the
Sabbath. There may be the need to be elsewhere for medical treatment,
or one's health requires a warmer, drier climate for a time. But those
who are absent from the congregation month after month, as a matter of
choice, must be warned sharply against this practice by the elders.
And if the necessary changes are not made, they must be disciplined
for neglect of the means of grace. And those who are repeatedly absent
for shorter periods—a couple of weeks here and a couple of weeks
there—ought to re-examine this practice in the light of
Do the Protestant Reformed Churches actually have a stand we must
abide by regarding movies or do we consider it up to the Christian
himself - the same as with dances?
you mention about drama is what some simply write off as bad
drama. Can good drama (that is to say, school skits and religious
movies) be lumped into the same category or not?
there any drama that is wholesome or that teaches any moral good?
it fair to liken television-viewing (drama) to Baal worship?
Why do we need an official stand by classis or
synod to avoid those sins which are so clearly condemned by Scripture?
Doesn't a little sanctified wisdom show us that viewing movies and
television leads to impure thoughts, improper language, silently
partaking in the blasphemy of others, discontented attitudes, and
wicked behaviour? No, movie attendance is not a matter of Christian
liberty, nor is social dancing, which is mentioned in the same
We get off on the wrong foot when we try to judge
this issue on the basis of content: good drama or bad drama, moral
lessons or immoral teaching, constructive influence or destructive
examples. Certainly the content of almost 100% of dramatic productions
(movies, television programs, plays, skits, operas) place these things
out of bounds for the Christian. Besides, how do you know what the
contents and influences are until you have viewed the drama? Too late
then! Are we going to look to the world, the world at its most
depraved and ungodly state, to teach us moral lessons? Why cannot we
take the Heidelberg Catechism to heart when it teaches us that
all images are to be condemned, and "God will have His people taught
not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of His Word" (Lord's
Day 35)? Scripture is sufficient!
But content is not the root of the issue. The
question that must be asked is, "Is acting right or wrong?" Men more
capable than I have shown conclusively that acting itself is sin. The
distinction between imitation and impersonation must be
appreciated. We may imitate those of pure moral character: God,
Christ, the apostles, the saints. But we may never impersonate
anyone! To impersonate is to pretend you are someone else, good or
evil, and to induce those who watch you to believe that you are
someone else, good or evil. That's playing around with personality,
which is a distinct and unique creation of God; and that's playing
around with corruption or holiness, both for which are terribly
serious before God. Acting is simply hypocrisy. By the way, the Greek
word for actor is hypocrite.
We recall two interesting remarks made on family
visitation some years ago. A man said, "If I watch television for a
couple of hours, I can't pray at night." Another man said, "Watching
television causes me to lose my judgment of things." How true. Let us
be warned. For further reading on this matter, we recommend the
pamphlet "The Christian and the Film Arts," by Prof. H. Hanko,
available from all our evangelism societies. We recommend also a
series of articles in volumes 69 and 70 of the Standard Bearer
by Rev. Barry Gritters, entitled "Renewing the Battle: Drama,
Could you clarify what you mean by saying that professional
athletes are cursed. What Scriptures help us here?
was wondering if passages such as
Hebrews 12:1 and
II Timothy 4:7 might also inform your position on sports? It
seems to me that the apostle Paul may have been a bit of a sports
The remark was made that professional sports of
every kind, and 99 if not 100% of professional athletes, are under the
curse of God. We could have included much of college sports, the
entire movie and television industries, and those who are engaged in
popular "music." Professional sports are under God's curse because
they produce nothing truly worthwhile for God, man or beast. They are
merely the opiate of the masses, rather successfully drawing men's
attention away from the issues of life, and fleecing them of their
money in the process. The athletes, though splendid physical
specimens, are actually among the most depraved in our society. They
are all Sabbath-breakers. They are heady, high-minded, proud, and
boastful. Among them are found adulterers, whoremongers, union
members, alcoholics, substance abusers, divorced and remarried
individuals, all in higher percentages than in the general populace.
The Heidelberg Catechism asks, in Lord's Day
32, "Cannot they then be saved, who, continuing their wicked and
ungrateful lives, are not converted to God?" And it answers, "By no
means, for the holy Scriptures declare that no unchaste person,
idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber,
or any such like, shall inherit the kingdom of God." Biblical proof
for that answer is
I Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians
I John 3:14-15.
Can professional athletes be converted to God? Of
course they can, if God wills it and works it. But then they are no
longer professional athletes, but ex-athletes who mortify the old man,
and with joy of heart live according to the will of God in all good
As to Paul being a sports fan, we really have no
idea. The Scriptures are silent on this matter. He was a studious and
industrious man, filled with zeal for his work, both before and after
his conversion. I rather doubt he spent any time watching sporting
events. But that's really not the question in regard to those
quotations cited. As the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul wrote to those
who were acquainted with the Olympic games and other contests.
With that familiarity in mind, he used figures from the games such as
fighting and running to illustrate the truth of the Christian life.
Keep in mind, too, that Paul was inspired by the Spirit of truth to
use these figures. And that means that sports, games, and races are
not per se wrong.
D. Do you have suggestions as to how I would
go about changing my home from the entertainment-centred type to
the dining room table type?
We will try. First of all, know that such a change
is possible. Your question indicates a desire to have your family life
more closely conformed to the biblical model. Sometimes when we look
at how it goes in our families, we almost despair of making the
necessary changes. But we are assured in
Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through Christ who
Secondly, praying about these changes is absolutely
essential. Prayers by the father and the mother in the quiet of the
night when all alone with God. Prayers about these very things with
the children in family devotions. The fervent prayers of the righteous
availeth much (James
5:16). As we confess to God our failure as parents, our
inconsistencies in instruction and discipline, as we express to Him
our longing to have strong, covenant homes, God forgives us for Jesus'
sake, and grants us our holy desires. But then pray for wisdom to
initiate these changes too. This is possible to accomplish, but not
Thirdly, the difficulty lies in the fact that for a
long time we have made television-viewing, bad music, lack of
worthwhile family devotions, and failure to communicate a part of our
daily lives. We are all but stuck in a deep rut. And the difficulty is
especially great when older children and young people are involved.
Generally, their concern for holiness and spiritual growth is not very
lively. Their abhorrence of the world is not fully developed. Some
would rather listen to friends than to their parents. So you may
experience sharp opposition from them when steps are taken to root out
worldliness, and to make of the home a citadel of holiness and truth.
Even so, this can be done. Occasionally we read of families that have
succeeded in turning off the TV for a month or a year. Even without a
spiritual motive this has been done. And they discovered that more
worthwhile activities filled the void. How much more is this possible,
permanently, with those who possess the power of the Spirit and grace
Finally, make every effort to have at least the
evening meal together. Read and discuss the Word of God. Reflect on
the sermons that were preached on the Sabbath. Speak words of
encouragement and correction. And make plain as parents what Joshua
made plain to Israel: as for me and my house, we will serve the
and write these things in love for the church of Christ, in love for
the Protestant Reformed Churches, and in love for the church of the