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Pastoral 2017

Beware of Entertaining Ourselves by Breaking God’s Law!


Today, Christians at large “entertain” themselves by watching others break all of the Ten Commandments. It seems that for many, God’s eternal standards do not apply to their modern artistic and media entertainment. This problem is especially acute for Christian youths who find that their friends (Christian and non- Christian) attend nearly all of the innumerable movies targeted at their generation.

While it is true that it is very difficult to produce a list of dos and don'ts, it is totally wrong to assume that as long as an activity pleases one’s heart, it should be alright to engage in it. The natural thoughts, imaginations and desires of human hearts are always evil. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). But through the law of God, we can know and fulfil God’s righteousness and truth. As the psalmist wrote, "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth" (Psalm 119:142).

In what follows, we will consider the principles taught in the Ten Commandments to discover their relationship to the entertainment pursuits of those who would follow Jesus Christ.

1. I am the LORD thy God…Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Entertainment is one of the biggest industries worldwide. Christians are also lured into working in the secular entertainment sector. Jesus cautions us, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21). Therefore, Christians must be wary of anything that would cause them to forget the priority of a relationship with God. Every Christian’s focus should be to put God first in his life. When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does this honour God as first in my life?

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. Idolatry is not just a problem confined to some past pagan culture. Today, there is as much energy given to the worship of created things as ever before in history. We are not surprised to hear of those who "idolise" popular media celebrities. In fact, the cultural images we identify with are almost certainly the key indicators of the inclinations of the heart. Jesus warned that "no man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other" (Matthew 6:24). When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does this help me to keep my focus on God?

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain. Misuse of the name of God appears to be an integral part of contemporary entertainment. Yet Jesus said, "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name" (Matthew 6:9). Would we really sit quietly in a movie where the name of our father, mother, brother or sister is being used in vain? When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does it give due honour to God’s name and character?

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Jesus said that "the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath" (Luke 6:5). We must not spend our time on the Lord’s Day for worldly entertainments, but for the worship of Christ and the mutual edification of our souls. Christians not only have to live a holy life on the Lord’s Day, but also every day of the week. When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does what I choose on Friday agree with what I do on "holydays"?

5. Honour thy father and thy mother. Today, traditional family values are minimised, forgotten or even mocked by what is called modern entertainment. Though there is great value in entertainment that affirms relationships bound by mutual honour, parental honour seems the least-valued ideal of family relationships. When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does this build up and give honour to loving relationships in the family?

6. Thou shalt not kill. One of the two main pillars of media power is the unreal presentation of violence. The emotions of this generation are exploited for money. Jesus said, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you… that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:44, 45). When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does this cause me to view others as potential children of God?

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. The other pillar of media power is the unreal presentation of sex. With all the difficulties of growing up in an oversexed culture, we can no longer stand idly by while the passions of this generation are being exploited for money. Further, we must all guard against seeing people as objects of pleasure. Jesus said, "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does this cause me to view sex as a matter of faithfulness in marriage?

8. Thou shalt not steal. Stealing is wrong. In fact, the modern myth of "stealing from the rich to give to the poor" is largely advanced by the entertainmentobsessed media elite. When it was demanded of Jesus to redistribute a certain man’s inheritance, He responded by saying, "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? … Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:14, 15). When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does this cause me to think of my possessions with thanksgiving to God?

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Too often, emotional stories are used as a way to get around discernment. Just because we are told that a "story is based on the truth", we have no guarantee of the truthfulness of the story. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does this cause me to see the truth of Christ?

10. Thou shalt not covet. Lust is the excessive desire for something that we cannot or should not have. Too often, we are tempted to entertain ourselves with what we know is wrong on the excuse that we are morally "strong enough" to withstand the temptation. Jesus said, "Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man" (Mark 7:21-23). When it comes to entertainment, we must ask: Does this cause me to desire only the good that God has given for my pleasure?

From the above application of God’s commandments, it should be clear that modern entertainment is often a gross violation of God’s holy laws. The question we need to ask is: Does this form of entertainment provide a proper avenue to honour God’s law? We need to constantly check whether our choices of entertainment reflect on our current relationship with God, who has given us His law to protect and provide for our lives.

Therefore, when we see those who are discerning in their choice of entertainment, do not discount their lifestyle as "legalistic". Rather, a commitment to God’s precepts will require one to abstain from many of the modern entertainments. The Christian, when challenged by those who ask: "Is this entertainment really that bad?", should simply respond: "Does it really honour His holy laws?" ■



Pastoral Exhortation