The Gentleman Adventurer on Entertainment

Posted on February 7, 2010 by


Over the course of the next three days I’ll be posting a series of essays regarding entertainment – specifically, what God says about it in His Word. These essays were the result of a lot of serious and prayerful thought, and are – I hope – firmly founded in Scripture. They are the direct result of a painful process in which God transformed the way I evaluate my entertainment.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

By Richard W Rohlin

“People will know you,” the saying goes, “by the books you read and the friends you keep.” And there’s a lot of truth in that, to be sure. If you looked at a person’s list of their favorite books it would tell you a lot about them — their personalities, interests, even dreams and desires. If that list included, say, a lot of mystery/adventure books then obviously the person who reads them has an inclination or longing towards excitement and intrigue. If that list consisted of philosophical treatises like Hobbes’s Leviathan or Plato’s Republic, it would indicate a keen interest in government theory and a bent towards things of that nature.

What most people โ€“ most Christians โ€“ are reticent to admit, though, is that the books you read don’t just tell about the kind of person you are. According to Scripture they can actually affect your character.

1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us to “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” The word “communication” means companionship or intercourse. “Manners” is the word ethos (ay-thos) — a word we use in modern times to describe the whole attitude and way of doing things. If a primitive culture is built entirely around the warrior as a central social class, we say that culture is founded upon a pervading warrior ethos. That is precisely what is meant here — a “way of doing things” if you will. Roughly paraphrased into modern English, then, “Don’t be fooled: evil companions, communication, or intercourse ruin a moral way of life.”

The context of the passage here is also important: 1 Corinthians 15 addresses the problem of some people teaching that there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul pauses in the midst of his arguments against this heresy to point out this falsehood is something that we need to stay away from because error is always corrupting. I believe the principle applies to other aspects of our walk with the Lord as well — the kind of “communication” we allow ourselves to be exposed to will affect the person we are. It will affect the way we live our lives.

This has a lot of applications. Obviously this applies to the friendships we keep. But what about entertainment? Every form of entertainment is simply a form of communication. Music is communication of ideas, feelings, and thoughts expressed through a combination of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Art, reading material, television, movies… They all communicate somebody’s worldview. So if these are all forms of communication and if communication can be good or bad… Then it is logical that the books we read and other mediums of entertainment we allow in our life affect us on a fundamental level.

What about a book or series of books that glorifies something which Scripture condemns such as witchcraft? What about a movie that promotes loose moral standards and makes light of things such as curses and the undead? What about a TV show that propagates situational ethics and wanton violence? An enjoyable science fiction series that operates upon the basis that evolution is real? Are these things that we can put before our eyes without it affecting our walk with the Lord — our way of life?

What I am hitting at here is that a lot of Christians don’t realize or don’t want to realize that the kind of stuff they expose themselves to is going to affect them — whether they want to admit it or not. We need to purpose, as the Psalmist said, to “set no wicked thing” before our eyes. (Psalm 101:3).

There’s a maxim in computer programming which I believe states much more eloquently than I have here the point I am trying to make:

Garbage in, garbage out.

Posted in: food for thought