Substitute the Innocent for the Sinful. --Youth cannot be made as sedate and
grave as old age, the child as sober as the sire. While sinful amusements are
condemned, as they should be, let parents, teachers, and guardians of youth
provide in their stead innocent pleasures which will not taint or corrupt the
morals Do not bind down the young to rigid rules and restraints that will lead
them to feel themselves oppressed and to break over and rush into paths of folly
and destruction. With a firm, kind, considerate hand hold the lines of
government, guiding and controlling their minds and purposes, yet so gently, so
wisely, so lovingly, that they will still know that you have their best good in
There are amusements, such as dancing, card playing, chess, checkers, etc.,
which we cannot approve because Heaven condemns them. These amusements open the
door for great evil. They are not beneficial in their tendency, but have an
exciting influence, producing in some minds a passion for those plays which lead
to gambling and dissipation. All such plays should be condemned by Christians,
and something perfectly harmless should be substituted in their place.
While we restrain our children from worldly pleasures that have a tendency to
corrupt and mislead, we ought to provide them innocent recreation, to lead them
in pleasant paths where there is no danger. No child of God need have a sad or
mournful experience. Divine commands, divine promises, show that this is so.
Wisdom's ways "are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
While we shun the false and artificial, discarding horse racing, card
playing, lotteries, prize fights, liquor drinking, and tobacco using, we must
supply sources of pleasure that are pure and noble and elevating.
The Useful Place of the Gymnasium. --Gymnastic exercises fill a useful place
in many schools, but without careful supervision they are often carried to
excess. In the gymnasium many youth, by their attempted feats of strength, have
done themselves lifelong injury.
Exercise in a gymnasium, however well conducted, cannot supply the place of
recreation in the open air, and for this our schools should afford better
Games With a Ball--Basic Guiding Principles. --I do not condemn the simple
exercise of playing ball; but this, even in its simplicity, may be overdone.
I shrink always from the almost sure result which follows in the wake of
these amusements. It leads to an outlay of means that should be expended in
bringing the light of truth to souls that are perishing out of Christ. The
amusements and expenditures of means for self-pleasing, which lead on step by
step to self-glorifying, and the educating in these games for pleasure produce a
love and passion for such things that is not favourable to the perfection of
The way that they have been conducted at the college does not bear the
impress of heaven. It does not strengthen the intellect. It does not refine and
purify the character. There are threads leading out through the habits and
customs and worldly practices, and the actors become so engrossed and infatuated
that they are pronounced in heaven lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.
In the place of the intellect becoming strengthened to do better work as students, to be better qualified as Christians to
perform the Christian duties, the exercise in these games is filling their
brains with thoughts that distract the mind from their studies. . . .
Is the eye single to the glory of God in these games? I know that this is not
so. There is a losing sight of God's way and His purpose. The employment of
intelligent beings, in probationary time, is superseding God's revealed will and
substituting for it the speculations and inventions of the human agent, with
Satan by his side to imbue with his spirit. . . . The Lord God of heaven
protests against the burning passion cultivated for supremacy in the games that
are so engrossing.
The Problem of Many Athletic Sports. --Vigorous exercise the pupils must
have. Few evils are more to be dreaded than indolence and aimlessness. Yet the
tendency of most athletic sports is a subject of anxious thought to those who
have at heart the well-being of the youth. Teachers are troubled as they
consider the influence of these sports both on the student's progress in school
and on his success in afterlife. The games that occupy so much of his time are
diverting the mind from study. They are not helping to prepare the youth for
practical, earnest work in life. Their influence does not tend toward
refinement, generosity, or real manliness.
Some of the most popular amusements, such as football and boxing, have become
schools of brutality. They are developing the same characteristics as did the
games of ancient Rome. The love of domination, the pride in mere brute force,
the reckless disregard of life, are exerting upon the youth a power to
demoralize that is appalling.
Other athletic games, though not so brutalizing, are scarcely less
objectionable because of the excess to which they are carried. They stimulate the love of pleasure and excitement, thus
fostering a distaste for useful labour, a disposition to shun practical duties
and responsibilities. They tend to destroy a relish for life's sober realities
and its tranquil enjoyments. Thus the door is opened to dissipation and
lawlessness with their terrible results.
When Life Was Less Complex. --In early ages, with the people who were under
God's direction, life was simple. They lived close to the heart of nature. Their
children shared in the labour of the parents and studied the beauties and
mysteries of nature's treasure house. And in the quiet of field and wood they
pondered those mighty truths handed down as a sacred trust from generation to
generation. Such training produced strong men.
In this age life has become artificial, and men have degenerated. While we
may not return fully to the simple habits of those early times, we may learn
from them lessons that will make our seasons of recreation what the name
implies--seasons of true upbuilding for body and mind and soul.
Family Outings. --Let several families living in a city or village unite and
leave the occupations which have taxed them physically and mentally, and make an
excursion into the country, to the side of a fine lake, or to a nice grove where
the scenery of nature is beautiful. They should provide themselves with plain,
hygienic food, the very best fruits and grains, and spread their table under the
shade of some tree or under the canopy of heaven. The ride, the exercise, and
the scenery will quicken the appetite, and they can enjoy a repast which kings
On such occasions parents and children should feel free from care, labour,
and perplexity. Parents should become children with their children, making
everything as pleasant for them as possible. Let the whole day be given to
recreation. Exercise in the open air for those whose employment has been within
doors and sedentary will be beneficial to health. All who can should feel it a
duty to pursue this course. Nothing will be lost, but much gained. They can
return to their occupations with new life and new courage to engage in their
labour with zeal, and they are better prepared to resist disease.
Find Happiness in the Charms of Nature. --Do not think that God wishes us to
yield up everything which it is for our happiness here to retain. All He
requires us to give up is that which would not be for our good and happiness to
That God who has planted the noble trees and clothed them with their rich
foliage, and given us the brilliant and beautiful shades of the flowers, and
whose handy and lovely work we see in all the realm of nature, does not design
to make us unhappy; He does not design that we shall have no taste and take no
pleasure in these things. It is His design that we shall enjoy them. It is His
design that we shall be happy in the charms of nature, which are of His own
Profitable Social Gatherings. --Gatherings for social intercourse are made in
the highest degree profitable and instructive when those who meet together have
the love of God glowing in their hearts, when they meet to exchange thoughts in
regard to the word of God or to consider methods for advancing His work and
doing good to their fellow men. When the Holy Spirit is regarded as a welcome guest at these gatherings, when nothing is said or done to grieve Him
away, God is honoured, and those who meet together are refreshed and
Our gatherings should be so conducted, and we should so conduct ourselves,
that when we return to our homes, we can have a conscience void of offense
toward God and man, a consciousness that we have not wounded or injured in any
manner those with whom we have been associated, or had an injurious influence
Jesus Found Pleasure in Scenes of Innocent Happiness. -- Jesus reproved
self-indulgence in all its forms, yet He was social in His nature. He accepted
the hospitality of all classes, visiting the homes of the rich and the poor, the
learned and the ignorant, and seeking to elevate their thoughts from questions
of commonplace life to those things that are spiritual and eternal. He gave no
license to dissipation, and no shadow of worldly levity marred His conduct; yet
He found pleasure in scenes of innocent happiness and by His presence sanctioned
the social gathering. A Jewish marriage was an impressive occasion, and its joy
was not displeasing to the Son of man. . . . To the mind of Jesus the gladness
of the wedding festivities pointed forward to the rejoicing of that day when He
shall bring home His bride to the Father's house, and the redeemed with the
Redeemer shall sit down to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
His Example in Conversation and Conduct. -- When invited, as His work
commenced, to a dinner or feast by Pharisee or publican, He accepted the
invitation. . . . On such occasions Christ controlled the table talk and gave
many precious lessons. Those present listened to Him; for had He not healed
their sick, comforted their sorrowing, taken their children in His arms and blessed them?
Publicans and sinners were drawn to Him, and when He opened His lips to speak,
their attention was rivetted on Him.
Christ taught His disciples how to conduct themselves when in the company of
those who were not religious and those who were. He taught them by example that
when attending any public gathering, they need not want for something to say.
But His conversation differed most decidedly from that which had been listened
to at feasts in the past. Every word He uttered was a savour of life unto life
to His hearers, and they listened with subdued attention as though desirous of
hearing to a purpose.
Ellen White and a Pleasant Social Gathering. -- At the close of my long
journey east, I reached my home in time to spend New Year's Eve in Healdsburg.
The college hall had been fitted up for a Sabbath school reunion. Cypress
wreaths, autumn leaves, evergreens, and flowers were tastefully arranged; and a
large bell of evergreens hung from the arched doorway at the entrance to the
room. The tree was well loaded with donations, which were to be used for the
benefit of the poor and to help purchase a bell. . . . On this occasion nothing
was said or done that need burden the conscience of anyone.
Some have said to me, "Sister White, what do you think of this? Is it in
accordance with our faith?" I answer them, "It is with my faith."
Draw Youth With a Winning Power. --God would have every household and every
church exert a winning power to draw the children away from the seducing
pleasures of the world and from association with those whose influence would have a corrupting tendency. Study to win the youth to