Our Question Box

Dr. Leonard Greenway, pastor of the Riverside Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan is in charge of Our Question Box. This department is for everyone.

From a reader in Iowa:

Question: Does it conflict with our ideas of “Christian Liberty” to set up standards for conduct in recreation and amusement? We arc having a discussion of this in our society. Have you some standards to suggest to us?

Answer: A follower of Christ in the exercise of Christian liberty should not be averse to criteria. He wants his whole life to be well-regulated with a’view to doing all to the glory of God. This means that his pleasures in recreation and amusement can be evaluated in the light of certain standards. Let me submit the following standards as a basis for evaluating various kinds of leisure activities:

1. Any amusement that entails a waste of time or money is indefensible. Amusements must serve some intelligent, productive, constructive purpose in our lives. Their worth is determined by the worthiness of the end in view. We are stewards of timc as well as of our possessions. A good steward is not a gamester. Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5. 2. Recreation that is harmful to the body is wrong. A Christian at play should ask, “Is this good for me physically?” He should never “take a chance” for the sheer sport of it. Neither should he seek enjoyment in witnessing dangerous sports. It is no credit to our Christian profession when we delight in the excitement produced by spectacles where danger to human life, or even animal life, is imminent. Circuses and carnivals usually advertise their feature performances as “death-defying,” “hair-raising,” “breathtaking.” Billboards blaze the feats of “the human cannon ball,” the “tightrope walker,” the “daring balloon ascensionists,” “the snake-charmer,” “the lion tamer,” “the daredevil motor cyclist,” etc. Similar sensations are promised in the advertisements of auto races, including the “midget” variety. Nor should we omit reference to prize-fighting which has become a great commercialized amusement in America. We may not be all agreed as to whether or not everything mentioned above belongs to the same category, but it is difficult for me to understand how anyone can deny that there is an unnecessary danger to human life. Exodus 20:13; I Corinthians 6:19, 20. 3. Entertainment that disturbs emotional stability and weakens self-control is wrong. Each of us Christians, with kingly continence, must rule the brood of passions that have their nest in what remains of our sinful human nature. Any stimulation that is liable to release these passions is to be regarded as a menace. There are fOnTIS of dancing that provide such stimulation. The run-of-the-mill exhibitions of Hollywood’s theatrical talent together with many radio and television shows unquestionably can be branded as serious offenders here. As for “rock and roll,” we can profit from the following statement by Dr. Howard Hanson of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester: “Music can be soothing or invigorating, ennobling or vulgarizing, philosophical or orgiastic. It has powers for evil as well as for good.” (The American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 99, p. 317.) Titus 2:11, 12; Proverbs 16:32. 4. Any pleasure that tends to make us more companionable with unbelievers and less sociable with devout believers is to be avoided. Every person’s life has a natural gravitation. The Christian’s gravitation should always be in the direction of godliness and godly people. Something is seriously amiss when the movement is prevailingly in the other direction. The “worldof I John 2:15 has its own culture, its own fashion, its own songs, melodies, elations, camaraderie. This is “Babylon the Great” (Revelation 18) in which Christians have no appointed lodging. II Timothy 4:10; Psalm 16:3, 4.