This page is mostly for personal and spiritual posts (a.k.a. non-fiction).
My fiction-only blog, about my novels and other similar examples of popular art, can be found here.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Es of Entertainment, #6 -- Excise Anything that Tempts You to Sin

In my previous posts I've discussed five principles, all starting with the letter E, that will help make your entertainment choices EEEasier (get it?).  For the fifth one, Edify Your Brothers and Sisters, I wrote about how we should be careful "not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister," as Paul says in Romans 14:13.  And not only do you need to make sure that you do not tempt others to sin, but you need to excise (“cut out”) any kind of entertainment that will tempt you to sin.  This surgical language comes from the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:29-30:

"If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.

This  has been called the principle of “radical amputation,” because Jesus is clearly saying that we must sometimes take radical and even painful steps if we want to stop sinning.  In the figurative picture painted by Christ, the excising of the eye and hand will lessen the ability and opportunity to sin, and will serve as a reminder of its consequences, which will make the offender think twice before sinning again.  Likewise, we must make it harder for ourselves to sin, by eliminating opportunities and temptations that we know will lead us astray.[1]

The application of this principle to your entertainment choices should be fairly obvious:  If something that you watch, read, or listen to influences you toward evil in your heart or actions, stay far away from it.  If you find yourself consumed with a particular hobbie, to the point that it has become more important than God, get it out of your life until such a time that you could enjoy it in moderation and propriety.  It is indeed legalistic to say that no Christian should ever enjoy “worldly” forms of entertainment, as we have pointed out, but it is also reasonable to assume that some Christians should avoid some or all of them at certain times in their lives.  This is often the case with young believers, because they have not yet developed the knowledge of Scripture and the skills of discernment necessary to take in most modern entertainment without being negatively influenced by it.   Even though I believe that the teaching of the college I attended was legalistic regarding this issue, in a way I am grateful for the strict rules of the school (no TV, movies, etc.), because they forced me to step away from the modern media for a while, to learn the Word of God, and to look at the whole field of entertainment with a more perceptive and critical eye.[2]  
Romans 13:14 says, “The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.  Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”  “Make no provision” comes from a Greek verb that was used, in military parlance, for supplying the front lines in battle.  An army cannot fight and win without provisions, and our flesh cannot prevail against the Spirit unless it has material to work with.  So we need to “cut off the supply lines” to our flesh by avoiding any kind of entertainment that tempts us to sin.  And if you don’t know for sure whether something is spiritually dangerous to you, then you can apply the seventh and final principle, which will the be subject of my next post…

[1] For further consideration of this principle in Matthew 5:29-30, see Jay Adams’ book A Theology of Christian Counseling (Zondervan, 1979), Chapter 16.
[2] This dynamic is one of the reasons that legalism regarding entertainment is so prevalent, especially among young or immature believers.  Many of them probably do need to distance themselves from the entertainment of the world, or build some “fences” in their own life, until they can grow stronger spiritually.  But the problem arises when they transfer their “fences” to everyone else, and accept or promote the teaching that everyone else must live by their standards.  Likewise, the problem with my college was not the strict rules they had for the students (I can see a certain wisdom in that), but the problem was that they taught and implied that the rules were Divine standards equal to the commands of Scripture.

No comments:

Post a Comment