This is an age of entertainment. Never before have people had so much leisure time as in the last 50 years, or even the last 100. It was to meet the demand for different ways of occupying people’s leisure time that cinemas began to open – especially as, in a time of new inventions, it was now possible to produce films, or what in America are called movies.
When television became common, it became possible for people to watch such films in their own homes, without anyone outside the family seeing them going to a cinema. More recently, with films available as videos or DVDs, [and now even more easily available on the internet] people can watch them just whenever they want to. While some material on TV, and on videos and DVDs, is educational and instructive, much of it is dangerous. Sin is not a proper subject for entertainment. And most films, it would seem, are glorifying what is sinful.
Indeed there is something false about all acting – when people take on someone else’s character and have to pretend to express someone else’s emotions. This is quite out of keeping with what God demands in the Ninth Commandment: perfect truthfulness. It is, in effect, bearing “false witness” to others.
If violence and murder are wrong – and of course they are – then it cannot be right to turn them into entertainment. And it cannot be right to seek enjoyment from watching them. Nor can it be right to make sins against the Seventh Commandment into entertainment. Paul said of one such sin that it “is not so much as named among the Gentiles”; he was shocked that there were some in the church in Corinth who were guilty of that sin. How much more shocked he would be to find such sins used as a means of entertaining people. And how appalled he would be if he found some connected with the Church today enjoying such films.
What should be our attitude to sin? Remember Job, and how he is commended at the beginning of the Book which carries his name. It is said that he “eschewed evil”; he turned away from it – you may say that he always tried to get as far away as possible from evil. He would certainly not have found his enjoyment in watching others acting out what is sinful, and neither should we. We are in this world to glorify God, and it should be clear to everyone that watching sin – especially serious sin – is very far away from being glorifying to God. No wonder Paul said: “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). This should be our standard – always.
We should always remember that we have corrupt, sinful hearts. It is dangerous for us to watch what is sinful, because it is likely to stimulate evil thoughts in our minds. It makes us even more unlikely to want to draw near to a holy God, who hates sin with a perfect hatred. The fact is that such entertainments are preparing sinners for an eternity far away from God – they most certainly will not prepare anyone for heaven.
In the light of the Bible, we are to flee from the wrath to come. Obviously then, we must flee from sin, and we must refuse to spend our precious hours watching sinful activities depicted on a screen for our entertainment.
Rev Kenneth D Macleod
[This article, entitled Sin as Entertainment, was first published in the April 2006 edition of The Young People’s Magazine]