Can Christians Enjoy Worldly Pleasures Like Movies, Games and TV?

Question from a Site Viewer

Can Christians enjoy things like YouTube, movies, poker, drinking, video games, etc.?

I’ve heard several messages lately from teachers and pastors I trust saying, “Christians should be unspotted from the world! They shouldn’t watch TV or movies. Christians shouldn’t drink. They shouldn’t play games like poker or other worldly games. They shouldn’t watch YouTube. Christians shouldn’t play video games.”

I struggle with this because I enjoy several of those activities as do many of my other Christian friends. But does that mean we’re not really Christians if we engage in such activities? Can Christians enjoy “worldly pleasures” such as these?

Tim’s Answer

Thank you for writing. You ask whether one must give up TV, movies, and games in order to be a Christian. The answer is no. You ask if Christians can enjoy worldly pleasures. Well . . .

The sole condition to becoming a Christian is to believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus said that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16; 5:24). Christianity is not about what we do, but in whom we believe, the person we draw near.

We can give up TV, movies, games, and a whole host of other things and still not be a Christian. Salvation comes from faith in God (Romans 9:10, 13; Ephesians 2:8-9). Anyone who wants to place additional conditions on becoming a Christian stands under the curse of Scripture. Paul writes in very strong terms in the book of Galatians about the danger of adding anything to faith in God. By turning to God in faith, we receive His salvation. Faith is what pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).

But, though Scriptures strongly teach that faith is the path to God, they also teaches us that loving God is the first and great command (Matthew 22:37-38). In our pursuit of this command, we want to put away whatever distracts us from a life of love towards God. Things of this world we should put off so that we can focus on matters that are pleasing to the God who has called us.

The things of this world are given to us in 1 John 2:15-17. These are the evil desires of the flesh, the evil desires of the eyes, and the pride of life. Colossians 3:5-9 gives us a list of the evil desires of the flesh that we are to put away. They involve fornication, impurity, wrong passions, evil longings, and covetousness. Also included are anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, evil speech, and lies. These are the things of the world.

Jesus in Matthew 15:18-19 gives us another list of evil matters that flow out of the heart, including evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witnessing, and blasphemies. These are the matters of the world that we are not to love.

The Bible says nothing about plays, sporting events, or other activities that were common during Biblical times. And, or course, Scripture says nothing about TVs, playing video games, or watching stuff on the computer, iPad, etc. Such items are never the things of the world when the Bible speaks about the things of this world. The things of the world are evil desires, greed, sexual sins, murder, lies, evil talking, etc. The things of this world are those matters that reflect and feed upon our fallen nature. They are not matters such as modern medicine, modern technology, computers, radio, TV, cars, planes, or such things.

Now, I am not encouraging you to watch TV, play video games, or watch other stuff. What I am saying is the issue is not these things, but the issue is simply whether what we are doing is pleasing to God.

Everything we do should be done with the blessing of God on that activity. If God does not bless the activity, we should not do it. Paul writes in Colossians 3:17 that whatever we do we should do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father. If we are doing something and we would be uncomfortable doing it if Jesus was sitting right with us in the room, then we should not be doing it. Because, as Christians, at all times Jesus is with us. Therefore, we want to live holy lives. So, we should watch what we allow our eyes to see and our ears to hear and our bodies to do. Always keep in mind that Jesus is with us.

Some would say, therefore, that we should never do anything that the world does. But this is a ludicrous stand. The world (those who are not Christians) eat. Should we stop eating? The world sleeps. Should we as Christians stop sleeping? The world gets married. Should we as Christians not get married? Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 that those who would say that we should not enjoy food or marriage are teaching a doctrine of demons. This is not God’s way.

God is not against our enjoyment. He gives to us freely so that we might have enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). Part of the purpose of the tithe in the Old Testament was to have money so that God’s people could buy whatever their heart desired and celebrate before Him (Deuteronomy 14:25-29), remembering to share joy with others. God delights in our enjoyment, and has made us with taste buds that can enjoy food, bodies that can enjoy activities, and minds that can enjoy learning and puzzles and many things. We can enjoy running, jumping, dancing, singing, and playing games. Children playing in the streets is part of the sign of God’s blessing on us (Zechariah 8:5). God delights in our enjoyment but also desires to be a part of that enjoyment. He wants our enjoyment to be pure and holy, something fit for heaven above.

Yet, there persists in our world a view among some that God calls on Christians to do away, not only with the sinful things of this world, but also with the advancements of this world. There are Christian groups who oppose musical instruments, believing that the only instrument we should have is the voice. Of course, they have trouble explaining Psalm 150. There are other groups that believe Christians should not use electricity, because that is of the world. Still others teach that Christians should not watch movies or attend shows. And others believe that Christians should not have TVs.

For each group, I believe Paul’s instructions in Romans 14:1-13 are very appropriate. If someone believes they should not have a TV, then let them not have a TV and let them thank God for not having a TV. But they should not condemn those who have TVs. If someone believes that they should have a TV, then I say let them have a TV and let them give thanks to God. Neither person is more spiritual than the other. Each of us must stand before our God and each will stand, if we make our desire to be to please God.

For me, the overriding concern is that I not let TV, video games, or any such thing control my life. When I stand before God one day and give an account of my life, I want to say something other than I watched TV for four hours a day. I want my life to count before God.

So, while TV is just a thing that can be used for good or for evil, it can consume time. Even good programs on TV can be used to keep us from taking the effort to engage those who are needy, or from prayer, or from any number of other important matters in our Christian walk.

So, if you have a TV, use it in moderation, watch only what you believe Jesus would enjoy having you watch, give thanks to God for what He has given, and take time to serve others through prayer and deeds. The same is true with video games, the Internet, and other similar matters.

May the Lord Jesus give you guidance in what is best for you in this area.

a servant,

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