Psalm 101:3; Colossians 3:2
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): For centuries the Church has stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was―a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability.
RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): Laziness breeds a love of amusement.
JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): It is the duty of church members to avoid what are called worldly amusements, such as theatrical representations, card playing, balls, and all kinds of gambling, frequenting taverns, fashionable concerts of music, private dancing parties, and fashionable games―for although some of these entertainments may not be demoralizing, yet they abate seriousness and spirituality, promote levity and frivolity of mind, are a great waste of time, and are a part of that conformity to the world in which Christians are forbidden to indulge. It is a sad proof of little or no true vital piety, when people feel it a hardship to be debarred by their profession from such engagements.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There are many in the present day who tell us that the theatre is a great school for morals. That must be a strange school where the teachers never learn their own lessons. In God’s school the teachers must be masters of the art of holiness.
JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): I am well satisfied, that if there is any practice in this land sinful, attendance on the playhouse is properly and eminently so. The theatres are fountains and means of vice.
TERTULLIAN (160-240): The theatre is especially the shrine of Venus. The theatre of Venus is also the house of Bacchus.* Christian, thou must hate these things!
C. H. SPURGEON: A member of [Rowland Hill’s] congregation was in the habit of going to the theatre. Mr. Hill went to him and said, “This will never do—a member of my church in the habit attending the theatre!” Mr. So-and-So replied that it surely must be a mistake, as he was not in the habit of going there, although it was true he did go now and then for a treat. “Oh!” said Hill, “then you are a worse hypocrite than ever, sir. Suppose any one spread the report that I ate carrion, and I answered, ‘Well, there is no wrong in that; I don’t eat carrion every day in the week, but I have a dish now and then for a treat!’ Why you would say, ‘What a nasty, foul, and filthy appetite Rowland Hill has, to have to go to carrion for a treat!’”
JOHN NEWTON: I can hardly think there is a Christian upon earth who would dare to be seen there, if the nature and effects of the theatre were properly set before them.
C. H. SPURGEON: When I first heard an oath, I stood aghast, and knew not where to hide myself; yet now, if I hear an imprecation or blasphemy against God, though a shudder still runs through my veins, there is not that solemn feeling, that intense anguish, which I felt when first I heard such evil utterances. By degrees we get familiar with sin.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): If a man prayed to be heavenly minded, would he go and wait in a theatre for the answer?
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Will the Spirit perform these gracious operations if we are indifferent as to whether or not our conduct grieves Him? If a Christian has spent his evening at the card-table or the theatre, and before retiring to rest bows his knees, will the Holy Spirit, at that time, draw out the heart of such an one and grant him conscious access to the Father?
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Books, especially novels, radio programs, television and also the cinema. These things are generally a source of temptation, and when you give time and attention to them you are making provision for the flesh, you are adding a little fuel to the flame, you are feeding the thing you know is wrong. And we must not do so.
ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): Every means should be used that may stop the avenues of temptation, or prevent its coming in contact with the evil propensities of the heart—If there be [gunpowder] in our habitations, it becomes us to beware of fire. Where the heart begins to be seduced by temptation, it will soon become restless―it will moan after it, and be exceedingly fruitful in devices to get in the way of it; it will persuade conscience, for once, at least, to be silent; it will blind the mind to the evil, and paint the desirableness of the good; and, if all this will not do, it will promise to be only a looker-on, or that thus far it will go, and no further—But if thou hast any regard to God or His cause, or to the welfare of thine own soul, consent thou not! Temptation leads to sin, and sin to death. Whatever company, amusement, occupation, or connection has frequently caused thee to offend, that is the eye that requires to be plucked out.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There is a fire within you; never bring any oil anywhere near it, because if you do there will be a flame, and there will be trouble.
JOHN NEWTON: The time is short; eternity at the door; was there no other evil in these vain amusements than the loss of precious time―but, alas! their name is legion―we have not leisure in our circumstances to regard them.
C. H. SPURGEON: A safe rule to apply to all occupations is—“Can I take the Lord Jesus Christ with me if I go there?” If not, it is no place for me as one of His followers.
EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): Suppose some town in our country should be made, as nearly possible, to resemble heaven. Suppose all the inhabitants without exception, to be, not only pious, but eminently so. Suppose all worldly amusements, all political discussions, all commercial transactions, all secular conversation, to be banished from among them; while the presence of Christ should be enjoyed in a peculiar manner, and all the employment should be to love and praise and serve Him? Would you joyfully choose that town, in preference to all other places, for your earthly residence?―If you reply, No, then is it much more evident that you could not be happy in heaven. If you reply, Yes, we could be happy in such a situation—I ask, why then do you not, so far as possible, live such a life of religion here?
C. H. SPURGEON: Come, ye children of God, you must stand with your Lord outside the camp. Jesus calls you to-day, and says, “Follow Me.” Was Jesus found at the theatre? Did He frequent the sports of the race-course? Was Jesus seen, think you, in any of the amusements of the Herodian court? Not He.
*Editor’s Note: In Roman mythology, Venus was, among other things, the goddess of sexual desire and seduction, and also celebrated as the goddess of prostitutes; Bacchus was the god of wine whose worship was known for drunken debauchery. One would be dull indeed not to see some obvious connections to Hollywood movies, many television shows, and the profession of acting itself; give actors a role, pay them enough, and they will say and do almost anything on film. Before the 1950’s, it was necessary to go to the theatre; but television and the internet have brought the theatre into the home.