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Christians and Entertainment

Thursday, May 02, 2013

by John MacArthur

Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at several important biblical principles that help guide our decisions, activities, and behavior in areas of life about which Scripture does not specifically speak. The principles we’ve examined can apply to every gray area in life, including those related to entertainment, amusement, and leisure.

At the same time, however, there are some additional principles that are specifically helpful in considering how we choose to be entertained.

Having pastored for more than four decades a church ten miles from Hollywood, I am well aware of how entertainment media saturates our culture. During my lifetime, I have noticed the cultural shift away from active and intellectual pastimes (including recreations such as sports and reading) to passive and less stimulating amusements (such as television, movies, video games, and surfing the web). Technological advancements have improved our society in many ways, yet they have also introduced a host of powerful new temptations. Though sin is still sin at its root (cf. 1 John 2:16), some of its forms have never before been so accessible.

The world of entertainment, electronically speaking, is big business. Today’s top films gross hundreds of millions of dollars, as do some of the most popular video games. Television shows broadcast to millions of viewers; radio programs reach millions of listeners; and music retailers sell millions (or if you’re iTunes, billions) of popular songs. Access to this media is also more convenient than ever before, thanks to the Internet. Since it opened to commercial interests two decades ago, the Internet has grown to roughly two-and-a-half billion users worldwide.

Those technologies themselves are not inherently evil. In fact, they are powerful tools to help dispense God’s truth and promote righteousness. At Grace to You, our ability to reach out to people with our Bible teaching has significantly expanded through the use of new technology—the blog post you’re currently reading is just one example.

Yet the reality is that we live in a fallen world deeply corrupted by sin and under the influence of supernaturally hostile forces. Therefore we must not be so naïve as to assume that all entertainment is spiritually neutral and safe, as though we could immerse our minds in everything the world offers and remain spiritually unscathed.

So how can we live a consistent Christian life in our entertainment-saturated culture? Those who claim Jesus Christ as the Lord of their lives are called to submit to His authority in all areas of life. Every choice we make, including how we are entertained, must be submitted to His lordship.

Starting next week, we’re going to look at four key principles to consider when making choices about entertainment. Each of these principles directly relates to Christ’s lordship over our lives, so they presuppose a genuine Christian faith on the part of the reader—a faith that loves Christ and wants to glorify Him in every area of life, including entertainment choices.

(Adapted from Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong.)


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#2  Posted by Keith Stokes  |  Thursday, May 02, 2013at 10:26 AM

Thank You Dr. MacArthur for this timely article series. I'm finding myself more and more considering ditching television altogether. Other then Christian channels, there is not one and I mean one broadcasting network (including family friendly) that doesn't corrupt a persons thinking with the programing. And if by chance you find a decent show to view, then the commercials are spewing filth and sexual innuendos.They seem geared for someone with about 14 IQ points. I am really at a lost for words that the culture from youth to adults can not process anything serious or that makes you think and not have to have hyperactive and obnoxious to keep one tuned in between programming. It has gotten to the point during say, a basketball game we have to have an update from another game in between a player shooting free throws.Really?! think the time has come for Christians to decide that while technology is fantastic, the television and entertainment is for the worldly and we will only be influenced for the worse to it's continual exposure. There was a pastor who has since passed, Lester Roloff and while he said many things I don't agree with, he was spot on about television. He called it the One Eyed Monster.....agreed!

#3  Posted by Eric Castillo  |  Thursday, May 02, 2013at 10:39 AM

All these years hearing the powerful sermons from John M. I was awaiting this sort of subject, and now it is time for what the world needs to hear about "entertainment". Since I want to become a future film director and screenwriter, the four key principles that Pastor John M. and the Holy Word provides, will ultimately inherit my future actions so that I may fulfill whatever God has for me as to how I can ultimately glorify him in the end.

I feel there are so many people out there in the entertainment industry, in which are true believers, and God willing this sermon will hit their hearts and will ultimately feel the urge to do the right thing, by "ultimately" growing the kingdom of heaven.

Cant wait for this sermon. Thank God!

#4  Posted by Angela Revet  |  Thursday, May 02, 2013at 5:59 PM

I, too, can hardly wait to hear Dr. MacArthur's message on this topic. I also find it very frustrating to find entertainment that is edifying rather than destructive. Eric Castillo, I am thankful that you aspire to create films that will honor our Heavenly Father. I'll be sure to pray that our God will bless you in your career and look forward to watching your first film! All the best!

#5  Posted by Walter Keen  |  Thursday, May 02, 2013at 7:43 PM

Thank you Pastor John for this series. I look forward to hearing what the Bible says about how we entertain ourselves.

#6  Posted by Barry Foster  |  Thursday, May 02, 2013at 7:44 PM

I too am ever mindful of the usefulness of technology and the ease with which evil is spread using it. i myself feel as Keith does at times, but yet my job is one where i have to have computer and the internet to do it. That being said i struggle with having a tv and the absolute lack of good content to which i can sit down in front of and enjoy like the days when i was a kid. i find myself searching for many of the programs i watched as a kid since the ones today are so meaningless. i often ask myself would Christ be happy with me watching anything on tv? I wish i could just toss all technology out the door like kirk cameron did in fireproof, but can't because of work. Perhaps the Lord wants me doing something else for work and that is the decision i must wait for his answer on.

Thanks John for helping us all in seeing more clearly how the Lord would have us view technology.

To God be the Glory

#7  Posted by Kristopher Carter  |  Thursday, May 02, 2013at 8:47 PM

Finally! I am a recent graduate from the Art Institute of Washington with a BFA in Media Arts & Animation. My specialty is creating characters and comics. I "had" a passion for creating cryptic characters and very violent action scenes (similar to the game called God of War if you ever wondered) and watching all types of movies. My dream was to become an Art Director or a concept designer for film, games, etc. But, after following along scripture with Pastor MacArthur over the past 2 years, I felt convicted in what I was creating. Scriptures and chapters like "1 Corinthians 10:31" really hit home. Is it giving glory to Him creating such artwork? Is He pleased? I wondered and thought to myself, I 'm not so sure. So, to make a long story short, I stop creating such artwork and start searching scripture and commentary to help me have a clear conscience of what is pleasing and not pleasing to Christ. Sermons like "Making the Hard Decisions Easy" were very helpful but I always wanted to hear a detail sermon that covers the entertainment world involving all who watch it and all who create it (like myself). So, I can't wait to read what Pastor MacArthur has to say.

God bless everyone and I pray that we all will come to a clear understanding of our role, in the next few weeks when it comes to the entertainment industry.

#9  Posted by Joe Cardona  |  Friday, May 03, 2013at 7:15 PM

When my kids ask me if they can watch a PG13 film and I say no they wonder why and ask why they can't watch it since they are 13 as well. I help them understand that those movies are made for worldly 13 years olds but not for 13 year old Christian kids. Keith S. is very correct when he said that "the television and entertainment is for the worldly". The world can make they own movies and songs and us as Christians we should look forward to Tv Producers like Kristopher Carter and Eric Castillo whom God has given them talents to entertain us. Don't work for the world in everything you do, do all for the glory of our God.

I am not mad or dissappointed because the world can't entertain me with godly movies I understand them, what I can't understand is when I look to the world to entertain me and my family.

Thank God for Pastor John MacArthur in enlighteningly us to what the Bible says about our choices in entertainment.

#10  Posted by Michael Wheelhouse Jr.  |  Saturday, May 04, 2013at 8:46 PM

This is so very timely and wonderful to read. Thank you Pastor John.

#11  Posted by Ramon Jones  |  Sunday, May 05, 2013at 9:57 PM

I'm guilty of watching rated R movies that contain inappropriate content for entertainment purposes. Now it's time to make a change!!!

#12  Posted by John Wolf  |  Monday, May 06, 2013at 2:04 AM

Barry,

No question about it entertainment has gotten far worse over the years. I remember the shows I watched as a kid in the late 80's / early to mid 90's and boy have things gone down the tube since then. Perhaps you are older than me, but was twilight Zone among the shows you watched as a kid? I have all the episodes and they are safe. Some of the episodes actually have moral and ethical values. No they are not Christian per se, but they are entertaining and safe. Perhaps you could cancel your TV subscription and get the DVD's.

I also have other DVD's of earlier TV shows from the earlier days which the episodes were safe to watch.

#13  Posted by Laura Chin  |  Tuesday, May 07, 2013at 8:48 AM

The Lord is so faithful to give us what we need when we need it. Since the turn of the new year, the Lord has been convicting me about how I spend my time especially regarding entertainment. Even at church, my Pastor has been talking about circumcising our hearts and cutting off that flesh that seems to continually hamper our walk with Christ. Immediately I knew that the Lord was again touching on the subject of worldly, unfruitful entertainment. I confess I enjoy TV and movies. But afterwards I feel dirty, sad and guilty! I desire to honor the Lord with my time and how I spend it. Lord I am willing, help me to love You. The Scripture that keeps coming to mind is that passage in 2 Timothy 3:4, that talks about how people will be in the last days..."lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." I cringe when I remember that Scripture. Is that me? It is time to cut off that flesh. Lord I am willing, save me Jesus.