Christian Recreation Versus Worldly Amusement. -- There is a distinction
between recreation and amusement. Recreation, when true to its name,
re-creation, tends to strengthen and build up. Calling us aside from our
ordinary cares and occupations, it affords refreshment for mind and body and
thus enables us to return with new vigour to the earnest work of life.
Amusement, on the other hand, is sought for the sake of pleasure and is often
carried to excess; it absorbs the energies that are required for useful work and
thus proves a hindrance to life's true success.
Between the associations of the followers of Christ for Christian recreation
and worldly gatherings for pleasure and amusement will exist a marked contrast.
Instead of prayer and the mentioning of Christ and sacred things will be heard
from the lips of worldlings the silly laugh and the trifling conversation. Their
idea is to have a general high time. Their amusements commence in folly and end
There is great need of temperance in amusements, as in every other pursuit.
And the character of these amusements should be carefully and thoroughly
considered. Every youth should ask himself, What influence will these amusements
have on physical, mental, and moral health? Will my mind become so infatuated as
to forget God? Shall I cease to have His glory before me?
A Rule by Which Lawful Pleasures May Be Recognised. --Let us never lose sight
of the fact that Jesus is a wellspring of joy. He does not delight in the misery
of human beings, but loves to see them happy.
Christians have many sources of happiness at their command, and they may tell
with unerring accuracy what pleasures are lawful and right. They may enjoy such
recreations as will not dissipate the mind or debase the soul, such as will not
disappoint and leave a sad after-influence to destroy self-respect or bar the
way to usefulness. If they can take Jesus with them and maintain a prayerful
spirit, they are perfectly safe.
Any amusement in which you can engage asking the blessing of God upon it in
faith will not be dangerous. But any amusement which disqualifies you for secret
prayer, for devotion at the altar of prayer, or for taking part in the prayer
meeting is not safe, but dangerous.
Amusements That Unfit for Ordinary Duties. --We are of that class who believe
that it is our privilege every day of our lives to glorify God upon the earth,
that we are not to live in this world merely for our own amusement, merely to
please ourselves. We are here to benefit humanity and to be a blessing to
society; and if we let our minds run in that low channel that many who are
seeking only vanity and folly permit their minds to run in, how can we be a
benefit to our race and generation? How can we be a blessing to society around
us? We cannot innocently indulge in any amusement which will unfit us for the
more faithful discharge of ordinary duties.
The welfare of the soul should not be endangered by the gratification of any
selfish desire, and we should shun any amusement which so fascinates the mind
that the ordinary duties of life seem tame and uninteresting.
By indulgence in such pleasure the mind becomes confirmed in a wrong
direction, and Satan so perverts the thoughts that wrong is made to appear as
right. Then restraint and submission to parents, such as Christ rendered to His
parents, seem unbearable.
Objectionable Social Gatherings Depicted. --There are many things which are
right in themselves, but which, perverted by Satan, prove a snare to the unwary.
As ordinarily conducted, parties of pleasure . . . are a hindrance to real
growth, either of mind or of character. Frivolous associations, habits of
extravagance, of pleasure seeking, and too often of dissipation are formed that
shape the whole life for evil. In place of such amusements parents and teachers
can do much to supply diversions wholesome and life giving.
There has been a class of social gatherings in -----, . . . parties of
pleasure that have been a disgrace to our institutions and to the church. They
encourage pride of dress, pride of appearance, self-gratification, hilarity, and
trifling. Satan is entertained as an honoured guest, and he takes possession of
those who patronize these gatherings.
A view of one such company was presented to me, where were assembled those
who profess to believe the truth. One was seated at the instrument of music, and
such songs were poured forth as made the watching angels weep. There was mirth,
there was coarse laughter, there was abundance of enthusiasm and a kind of
inspiration; but the joy was such as Satan only is able to create. This is an
enthusiasm and infatuation of which all who love God will be ashamed. It
prepares the participants for unholy thought and action. I have reason to think that some who were engaged in that scene heartily repented of the
Many such gatherings have been presented to me. I have seen the gaiety, the
display in dress, the personal adornment. All want to be thought brilliant, and
give themselves up to hilarity, foolish jesting, cheap, coarse flattery, and
uproarious laughter. The eyes sparkle, the cheek is flushed, conscience sleeps.
With eating and drinking and merrymaking, they do their best to forget God. The
scene of pleasure is their paradise. And Heaven is looking on, seeing and
Gatherings for amusement confuse faith and make the motive mixed and
uncertain. The Lord accepts no divided heart. He wants the whole man.
Few Popular Amusements Are Safe. --Many of the amusements popular in the
world today, even with those who claim to be Christians, tend to the same end as
did those of the heathen. There are indeed few among them that Satan does not
turn to account in destroying souls. Through the drama he has worked for ages to
excite passion and glorify vice. The opera, with its fascinating display and
bewildering music, the masquerade, the dance, the card table, Satan employs to
break down the barriers of principle and open the door to sensual indulgence. In
every gathering for pleasure where pride is fostered or appetite indulged, where
one is led to forget God and lose sight of eternal interests, there Satan is
binding his chains about the soul.
The true Christian will not desire to enter any place of amusement or engage
in any diversion upon which he cannot ask the blessing of God. He will not be
found at the theatre, the billiard hall, or the bowling saloon. He will not
unite with the gay waltzers or indulge in any other bewitching pleasure that will banish Christ from the mind.
To those who plead for these diversions we answer, We cannot indulge in them
in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The blessing of God would not be invoked upon
the hour spent at the theatre or in the dance. No Christian would wish to meet
death in such a place. No one would wish to be found there when Christ shall
The Theatre the Hotbed of Immorality. --Among the most dangerous resorts for
pleasure is the theatre. Instead of being a school for morality and virtue, as
is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and
sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments. Low
songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and attitudes deprave the imagination and
debase the morals. Every youth who habitually attends such exhibitions will be
corrupted in principle. There is no influence in our land more powerful to
poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, and to blunt the
relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical
amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence as the
desire for intoxicating drink strengthens with its use. The only safe course is
to shun the theatre, the circus, and every other questionable place of
Dancing--a School of Depravity. --In many religious families dancing and card
playing are made a parlour pastime. It is urged that these are quiet home
amusements, which may be safely enjoyed under the parental eye. But a love for
these exciting pleasures is thus cultivated, and that which was considered
harmless at home will not long be regarded dangerous abroad. It is yet to be
ascertained that there is any good to be obtained from these amusements. They do
not give vigour to the body nor rest to the mind. They do not implant in the
soul one virtuous or holy sentiment. On the contrary, they destroy all relish
for serious thought and for religious services. It is true that there is a wide
contrast between the better class of select parties and the promiscuous and
degraded assemblies of the low dance house. Yet all are steps in the path of
David's Dancing Not a Precedent. --David's dancing in reverent joy before God
has been cited by pleasure lovers in justification of the fashionable modern
dance, but there is no ground for such an argument. In our day dancing is
associated with folly and midnight revelling. Health and morals are sacrificed
to pleasure. By the frequenters of the ballroom God is not an object of thought
and reverence; prayer or the song of praise would be felt to be out of place in
their assemblies. This test should be decisive. Amusements that have a tendency
to weaken the love for sacred things and lessen our joy in the service of God
are not to be sought by Christians. The music and dancing in joyful praise to
God at the removal of the ark had not the faintest resemblance to the
dissipation of modern dancing. The one tended to the remembrance of God and
exalted His holy name. The other is a device of Satan to cause men to forget God
and to dishonour Him.
Card Playing--a Prelude to Crime. --Card playing should be prohibited. The
associations and tendencies are dangerous. The prince of the powers of darkness
presides in the gaming room and wherever there is card playing. Evil angels are familiar guests in these places. There is nothing in
such amusements beneficial to soul or body. There is nothing to strengthen the
intellect, nothing to store it with valuable ideas for future use. The
conversation is upon trivial and degrading subjects. . . . Expertness in
handling cards will soon lead to a desire to put this knowledge and tact to some
use for personal benefit. A small sum is staked, and then a larger, until a
thirst for gaming is acquired, which leads to certain ruin. How many has this
pernicious amusement led to every sinful practice, to poverty, to prison, to
murder, and to the gallows! And yet many parents do not see the terrible gulf of
ruin that is yawning for our youth.
The Fear of Being Singular. --Professed Christians who are superficial in
character and religious experience are used by the tempter as his decoys. This
class are always ready for the gatherings for pleasure or sport, and their
influence attracts others. Young men and women who have tried to be Bible
Christians are persuaded to join the party, and they are drawn into the ring.
They do not prayerfully consult the divine standard to learn what Christ has
said in regard to the fruit to be borne on the Christian tree. They do not
discern that these entertainments are really Satan's banquet, prepared to keep
souls from accepting the call to the marriage supper of the Lamb and preventing
them from receiving the white robe of character, which is the righteousness of
Christ. They become confused as to what it is right for them as Christians to
do. They do not want to be thought singular, and naturally incline to follow the
example of others. Thus they come under the influence of those who have never
had the divine touch on heart or mind.
Avoid the First Step Toward Indulgence. --You may see no real danger in
taking the first step in frivolity and pleasure seeking and think that when you
desire to change your course, you will be able to do right as easily as before
you yielded yourselves to do wrong. But this is a mistake. By the choice of evil
companions many have been led step by step from the path of virtue into depths
of disobedience and dissipation to which at one time they would have thought it
impossible for them to sink.
A Clear Declaration of Christian Principles. --If you truly belong to Christ,
you will have opportunities for witnessing for Him. You will be invited to
attend places of amusement, and then it will be that you will have an
opportunity to testify to your Lord. If you are true to Christ then, you will
not try to form excuses for your nonattendance, but will plainly and modestly
declare that you are a child of God, and your principles would not allow you to
be in a place, even for one occasion, where you could not invite the presence of
It is God's purpose to manifest through His people the principles of His
kingdom. That in life and character they may reveal these principles, He desires
to separate them from the customs, habits, and practices of the world. . . .
Wonderful scenes are opening before us; and at this time a living testimony
is to be borne in the lives of God's professed people so that the world may see
that in this age, when evil reigns on every side, there is yet a people who are
laying aside their will and are seeking to do God's will--a people in whose
hearts and lives God's law is written.
God expects those who bear the name of Christ to represent Him. Their
thoughts are to be pure, their words noble and uplifting. The religion of Christ is to be interwoven with all that
they do and say. . . . God desires His people to show by their lives the
advantage of Christianity over worldliness, to show that they are working on a
high, holy plane.