In Part 1 we defined entertainment as “any action that is calculated to provide diversion, pleasure, interest, or amusement”.1 By that definition, entertainment is a regular part of our children’s lives, no matter their age. Like so many aspects of living in a fallen world, the realm of entertainment can have redeeming qualities while also being a dangerous minefield!
As parents we must guide our children to entertainment that does not detract from their call to holy living for God’s glory (1 Peter 1:13-16). We must also equip them with truth that will enable them to make wise choices about how they entertain themselves. And in both callings we are properly armed with God’s perfect Word!
Last time we looked at some general truths that should guide our thinking about entertainment.
- We saw that our call to holiness requires a vigilant approach to life.
- We saw that God desires fun and pleasure for his creatures, but he requires their enjoyment within his boundaries.
- We saw that Satan has his own plans for pleasure and is masterful in manipulating those boundaries to hinder our holiness.
- And we also saw our own weakness. We cannot trust ourselves to be adequate judges of the entertainment we pursue. And that’s true whether we’re kids or grownups!
Where do we go from here?
So if we can’t trust ourselves, where do we turn? Where do we direct our kids? Scripture should be our main guide in all our entertainment choices. We can trust that perfect inspired guide!
In Part 2 we will look at four issues Scripture addresses that will serve as mental pegs on which to hang our thinking and decisions surrounding entertainment. I trust that these can serve as guiding benchmarks or checks for us as we evaluate each form of entertainment with which our kids could interact. Under each issue we’ll see timeless principles that should govern our thinking—and truths we can present as weapons they will need to utilize in their own development!
1. The Priority Issue: Entertainment to Excess
If there is one abuse of entertainment common in young people, it is the pursuit of it to excess. As humans with natural selfish tendencies and age-related immaturities, our children can show this excess in a pretty unfiltered way. How many of us have told our children it is time for bed only to hear the retort: “But daddy, just one more episode, pleeeeease?!”
Once the pleasures of leisure become our kids’ priority, their God-centered purpose will be hindered. How does the Bible speak to this? What are the timeless principles that will help us develop right priorities?
- Redeem your time (Eph.5:15-16).
Followers of Jesus have limited time to pursue holiness and bring God glory. A life without some leisure time will produce burnout, but a life that prioritizes leisure minimizes what must be most important for a believer.
- Remember your purity (Eph. 5:3).
As part of the call to holiness, believers must prioritize our purity. Excessive exposure to entertainment is bound to expose the hearts of our kids to some form of impurity over time. While this may be more visible in our older children, the roots of the weakness can begin far younger.
- Realize your purpose (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
If your children are believers, they are not their own people anymore. Christ has bought them for the furtherance of God’s glory, not their own pleasures (even wholesome ones). Model and teach that mindset with your entertainment choices in your home.
2. The Reality Issue: Escapism and Distraction
This issue may be the most subtle of the four, but Scripture’s warnings reveal to us the danger of looking to entertainment as a means to escape our realities. An escape to a more magical or captivating place still can be alluring, even to young children. That desire only grows as the difficulties of the teen years mount. Imagination is a gift for children, and we as fathers shouldn’t squelch it. But neither should we subconsciously encourage a regular departure from reality through the entertainment choices we make as families.
- Remember true reality.
God is real, sovereign, and worthy of our submission and focus (Daniel 4:34-35). He desires a real relationship with you (John 15:8-11), one that is only possible if you actively pursue it daily. We must also teach our children that life can be difficult and unsatisfying (Psalm 34:19; Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). That natural emptiness should drive us to that relationship with him as the source of fullness and joy! Escape and distraction are natural responses but not Biblical solutions.
- You have a real calling to stay focused on.
A passionate pursuit of holy living (2 Tim. 2:22) calls for a warrior-like focus on pleasing our commander (2 Tim. 2:4) instead of getting entangled (i.e., distracted) by our surroundings.
3. The Worldliness Issue: Lusts of the Heart
Scripture warns us of the effect of “the world” (the planet-wide system of sinful hearts hostile to God) and of our tendency to love it. 1 John 2:15-17 provides that warning in stark terms. Worldliness is a lifestyle of pursuing temporal desires without regard for God’s eternal guidelines. Even our children are prone to it. Their natural desires (lusts) ensure that. As we said in Part 1, the entertainment available to our families is created by fallen people. Its source is “the world”. Its content is going to at least be laced with marred and godless thinking and actions, if not pervaded by them. We must be wary. How can Scripture help?
- You are zealous for good works now (Titus 2:14). Our new life in Christ is displayed through the development of new desires and actions, including in our entertainment choices. Even if you’re a kid!
- You can only follow one set of ideals (Romans 12:2). Our transformation is an ongoing process brought on by constant exposure to God’s Word (“renewal of your mind”), not by saturation of the world’s content.
- The Word holds God’s people to a high standard (Deut. 7:26). We must detest and avoid anything entering our homes and hearts that could be destructive. That is the standard we have been given.
- Be defined by Christ, not society (Ephesians 5:7-12). Our surroundings are described as darkness. Your believing children are described as children of light. Let’s be sure they are being saturated by that which will enhance their light rather than what could expose them to darkness.
4. The Worship Issue: God or Self
Worship is simply ascribing ultimate worth to someone or something held in extremely high regard. We express worship publicly (through our actions) and privately in our own hearts, but everyone does it. Everyone worships. What we ascribe ultimate worth to is our object of worship. We worship what has primacy in our hearts. And our choices and actions ultimately reveal outwardly what or who occupies that place. In the end we only worship one of two entities: God or ourselves. All other loves and passions outside of God himself find their source in the primacy of self. And, as is true of all our choices, our entertainment reveals who we worship, no matter what we may say. What principles of Scripture can we focus on that will keep our worship in its rightful place?
- God alone is worthy of worship (Rev. 5:13-14). Worship of self in all its forms is folly, counterfeit, empty, and fundamentally blasphemous.
- Your life is to be an act of worship (Rom. 12:1). As we have already seen, we exist to reflect his holiness and bring him glory in everything we do.
- Selfish pursuits are not worth our focus (Ps. 101:3). This verse is often used in entertainment contexts, but it reaches far beyond in application. Pursuit of self-centered pleasure (self-worship) is worthless. Viewing them as such will help us turn away.
Two Concluding Thoughts
That’s a lot to take in! But each truth is a weapon to use against the enemy and a tool to guide our choices. And each one is something our children must know. But don’t forget to use these last two truths in your instruction too! I hope they’re encouraging.
- Develop the skill of wise discernment.
You may have noticed that I’ve included very few specific applications here. That’s intentional, but not just because every family situation is different (though that is true). Eph. 5:10 instructs us to “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” God’s Word doesn’t give us a rigid set of guidelines to robotically follow with our entertainment choices. It gives us truth that takes wisdom, prayer, and earnest, focused, hard work to apply.
That drives us to God for help. The truths we’ve seen here provide us with the tools with which we prayerfully apply with the Spirit’s help. Ask him for wisdom; you’ll need it and he provides it (James 1:5)! Exercise that mindset yourself so you can model it for your children.
- Cling to the ultimate source of pleasure, joy, and satisfaction.
Let the words of Psalm 16:11 be our final focus as we conclude. Look at this; it is powerful: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Dads, we have a high calling here in our pleasure choices. But it’s not one full of drudgery or one devoid of joy.
God alone and a relationship with Him gives full, true joy. That is far better than anything earthly entertainment can fleetingly provide. And guess what—that good pleasure found in Him lasts forever. Can you or your kids think of anything better than that?
Taken from Upright Downtime by Brian Hand (BJU Press, 2008) page 4. ↩︎
Growing Fathers Team
Chris serves as an assistant pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, with a particular emphasis on the youth and on church-wide edification. He and his wife, Laura, have two children—Patrick and Kinley.View all posts by Chris