Paul also provides us with a second fundamental principle in 1 Corinthians 8 when he urges us not to do anything that we know will cause a brother or sister to stumble (vv. 7–13). There are activities that, while not sinful in and of themselves, can become sinful if we engage in them in a way that does not demonstrate love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Love of God and love of neighbor must take priority over love of entertainment. This means that a second question we must ask is whether engaging in a particular form of entertainment is going to cause a brother or sister to stumble.
If we keep these two basic principles in mind, a number of questions are answered before they are asked. If a form of entertainment is defined as sin by Scripture, obviously, we cannot engage in it to the glory of God. Sexual sins, for example, are not glorifying to God whether we are engaged in them ourselves or watching or reading them in the form of pornography. To engage in such sins as a form of “entertainment” displays a lack of love for both God and other people.
Love for God and love for neighbor provide two broad and general principles that allow us to see major danger zones. Are there, however, any specific dangers of which we should be aware? In general, it is good to know if you are traveling through an area where dangerous creatures exist. It is also good to know more specifically that there is a rattlesnake behind the log you are about to step over. In order to be prepared to navigate this terrain, let us look at four specific dangers associated with entertainment.
the danger of idolatry
The most serious danger posed by the various forms of entertainment is the possibility of our allowing them to become idols in our lives. Our chief end is to glorify God. When any form of entertainment becomes the chief end in our life, it becomes an idol. Our culture idolizes entertainers. (We even had a television show called American Idol.) We idolize sports teams and players. We idolize our favorite movie stars and musicians. There are many professing Christians who can tell you more about their favorite baseball, football, or basketball teams than they can about the Bible or basic Christian theology. Idolizing our favorite form of entertainment, whatever it might be, is a serious danger against which we must guard.
the danger of worldliness
Another serious danger associated with many forms of entertainment is the danger of worldliness. James tells us: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). As Christians, we have to be aware that much of what is produced in order to entertain us is produced by people with worldviews that are antithetical to Christianity.
Furthermore, those who produce it want to instill their values, and thus far they have been very successful in doing so. Much of what is produced for viewing on television and in the movies and much of what is produced lyrically in popular forms of music is clearly depraved. Every form of God-hating thought and behavior, from blasphemy to sexual perversion, is glorified, and we as Christians watch or listen to it hour after hour after hour. And then we wonder why there is so little discernible difference between the thinking and behavior of Christians and non-Christians.
We have not only allowed the entertainment industry to take our thoughts captive, we have paid them to do it. Instead of paying those who hate God to shape our minds, we need to ponder the words of David: “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (Ps. 101:2–3). We also need to meditate on these words of Paul: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). Are the things we set before our eyes (and ears) true and pure and worthy of praise? Or are they worthless?