Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

As Neil Postman famously said, we are “amusing ourselves to death” in the Western world. That is true and yet that doesn’t mean a Christian’s life must be void of entertainment. Entertainment, in and of itself, is not evil. Good entertainment can provide rest, delight, and pleasure; and there is nothing wrong with this. You don’t have to turn your gardening sheers into hair clippers, hawk your television set for a new commentary set, or only cook for utilitarian purposes. However, if I can restate Postman’s famous line in more gripping terms, we don’t want to amuse ourselves unto death. Therefore, I would propose these ten governing principles for our approach to entertainment as Christians:

  1. Nothing should be more pleasurable to my soul than a view of Christ (John 1:14; Eph. 1:18; 1 John 3:1-3; 1 Cor. 13:12-13; 2 Peter 1:16-18). Therefore, Christ will be the realm and object in which I find my greatest rest, delight, and pleasure.
  2. There should be no rest, delight, or pleasure in anything that would obstruct or obscure this view. Therefore, all entertainment that would obstruct or obscure my view of Christ is no entertainment to me.
  3. Anything I have previously found rest, delight, or pleasure in and now find obscures my view of Christ should be thrown off immediately. Therefore, I will continually analyze my entertainment choices to determine if they are still appropriate or should be discarded.
  4. This culture’s influential consistent message that fun and enjoyment are worthy chief ends is a hopeless quest. Therefore, I will guard my soul, heart, and mind from this persistent cry.
  5. There is only one chief end (1 Cor. 10:31) worthy of my pursuit. Therefore,  I must be able to say truthfully that the entertainment choices I have made can and are being done to the glory of God.
  6. I am not my own, I have been bought with a price and must glorify God in my body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Therefore, I will not look like the world in my entertainment choices.
  7. I am a complex being including body and soul. Therefore, I need to take time for recreation, enjoyment, rest, etc. for the sake of my body or my soul will suffer. Likewise, I must take time for my soul or my body will suffer.
  8. I have been given limited time in this life. Therefore, I will not lose one moment, but use all that has been given to me in a profitable way.
  9. Godliness is not equal to moroseness. Therefore, I will find things that give me rest, delight my soul, fill my mind with pleasure, and put a smile on my face.
  10. All good gifts come from above. Therefore, I will rest in good things, delight in good things, and find pleasure in good things without any sense of guilt.

As Christians, we don’t have to abandon entertainment. We don’t have to limit our television watching to documentaries, disguise our vacation with a convenient trip to see relatives on the way, or push our fiction books to the back corner of the shelf. We just have to be wise in what we choose to entertain ourselves with and how we approach that entertainment. And then we can laugh, fantasize, and play to the glory of God and our enjoyment. Enjoy Mickey Mouse with your kids. Take in a ball game with your spouse. Have a few friends over to enjoy some good food. Laugh, smile, rest, delight, find pleasure–it’s o.k. for a Christian. Actually, it’s more than o.k.–it is good and right.

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Comments:


12 thoughts on “Christians, Mickey Mouse, & Baseball”

  1. Scott says:

    Agreed. I would add an 11th for myself that the Lord convicted me of on this area recently: don’t be an entertainment glutton. Gluttons abuse God-given appetites.

  2. Paul janssen says:

    Actually, I’m surprised you endorse Mickey Mouse, since its a creation of Disney. And Disney is far from an evangelical friendly company. Weird.

  3. Dan says:

    Think of “Mickey Mouse” here as merely representative of generic entertainment for kids, not as a direct endorsement of Disney. I watch Bugs Bunny and other Looney Tunes characters with my kids on YouTube once in a while. But it doesn’t take the place of, and is not to crowd out, my responsibility as a Dad to teach my kids to love God and His Word, nor my own responsibility to monitor and cultivate my own affections.

  4. Paul Janssen says:

    @Dan,
    Yeah, I get it……but my point is that “Mickey” illustrates the trickiness of this question. My family never patronized the Disney empire (much), not because of what some say are its very gay-friendly policies, but because of the ways it portrays teenagers’ relationships to parents, and because of its “you just have to find yourself” stuff, etc, etc, etc. I agree that one needs to be judicious about entertainment. “Mickey Mouse” just seems to me to be an overly loaded representative. Just my opinion. Not really expecting anyone else to share it.

  5. Matt says:

    This thread is already proving that we struggle with exactly what Jason is encouraging us to fight against…

  6. Brady Granstaff says:

    I really needed this thanks Jason

  7. Dean P says:

    Here’s a question. How do we apply all of these governoring principals if we work in the (secular) arts and entertainment industry as a career. Wouldn’t that alter the dynamic a bit, it seems like it would to me.

  8. Mark says:

    Jason, thanks for the encouraging word. However, I don’t get the connection with God-pleasing entertainment and the photo chosen. It doesn’t seem to be appropriate “rest, delight, and pleasure” for my daughters (let’s say)or the men in the crowd. Even Mickey Mouse Ears would have been a better option than this.

  9. Joe says:

    “You don’t have to turn your gardening sheers into hair clippers, hawk your television set for a new commentary set, or only cook for utilitarian purposes.”
    I am not so sure about this slant, which I see all the time now. Reminds me of “Popologetics,” which I know is a big hit. But forgoing entertainment… I don’t see that as a danger too many places Evangelical. Fundamentalism, maybe. But Evangelical services already seem more like rock concerts. I do see Scripture saying deny yourself, and that worldly pleasures can easily entice. Of course there is a balance, but when religious websites are chock full of ads for CDs and cruises and fitness programs, and cooking and dancing shows on TV are rampant, I can’t see that we have to worry about Christians forgoing entertainment. This gist reminds me of Amy Grant’s new song, “Don’t Try So Hard.” Sure that can be appropriate, but is it the typical problem or the needed note? Just saying… Who honestly is going to expend the energy on such an intense grid of considerations? It’s like taking cures from CTs movie reviews. Even if a particular film does not overly offend or has ‘redemptive value,’ a steady diet of them is numbing. I’d counter, “enjoy entertainment sparingly, and remember life is about hard work and struggle more than it is abut experiencing The Good LIfe. Just the way it is.” That may be an overly harsh word for Youth groups, but as an underlying pastoral message, it will have traction. Because it’s the truth.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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