Does the Bible Have Anything to Say about Entertainment? Contributing Writer
Does the Bible Have Anything to Say about Entertainment?

The explosion of entertainment and amusement options today is overwhelming: TV, movies, sports, gaming, partying, gambling, apps on cell phones, and more! 

If you ask Christians what they think about entertainment, you’re likely to get one of three responses. Some believe the Bible has nothing to say about entertainment. Others say it’s really no one else’s business — it’s between them and God. Still others understand that God cares about entertainment, and His Word gives guidance so we can make wise, spiritually-healthy choices. 

Let’s explore these three responses and also discover some layers of truth about entertainment.

Does the Bible Say Anything about Entertainment?

There are a number of mentions about entertainment in the Bible, both negative and positive. Here are two examples: sports and partying.

In regard to sports, in 1 Corinthians 4:9 the Apostle Paul mentioned the Roman arena. The Romans watched gladiator fights, horse chariot races, and even mock naval battles in the arena, but it was also where Christians were condemned to die. That was a negative use of sports, to be sure, even though it was part of the culture of Roman entertainment.

On the other hand, Paul expressed positive concepts related to sports, comparing the Christian life to athletic training. Familiar with Hellenistic culture and the Greek games in Olympia and Isthmia, Paul alluded to running, racing, and boxing. 

There are several mentions of parties and feasting in the Bible. A negative example of this was King Herod’s desire to entertain his guests at a dinner party. After the daughter of Herodias danced before them, her request for the head of John the Baptist led to his execution. At another party found in Esther — with freely-flowing royal wine — the drunken ruler’s foolishness led to the Persian equivalent of divorce.

Does this mean that all partying is wrong? No. Jesus went to a party, a Jewish wedding celebration in Cana. The Jewish people looked forward to a great feast on the Last Day, which Jesus described as the Great Feast in the Kingdom of God (Luke 13:29). We also read about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb — a joyful banquet — in Revelation 19:6-9

Many kinds of entertainment or amusement have developed over time, but clearly from these passages, there are right and wrong ways to use entertainment. 

Why Should It Matter What We Choose for Entertainment?

As for the response that it’s not anyone else’s business what we choose for entertainment, that may be true for nonbelievers, but not for followers of Christ. God cares deeply whether our choices are pure and healthy or will lead us into sin and spiritual bondage. Also, wrong choices can affect not only an individual, but others around them. 

There are at least three general concepts to consider.

First, the Christian’s citizenship is in heaven. Believers are to live and make choices with eternity in mind. We are destined for something far greater than what we experience on earth. Because of that, entertainment is not a sidebar to our walk with God. We are in the world, but not of the world; and we need the sanctifying work of the Word of God and the Spirit of Life to guide us.

Second, Christians are meant to develop discernment as they grow in spiritual maturity so they will be able to distinguish between what is appropriate or inappropriate — what is suitable entertainment or entirely off limits for believers. Like all choices, there are consequences to what we choose. While Christians are secure in Christ, navigating the walk of faith can become difficult if entertainment choices pull us in the opposite direction.

Third, Christians should always be aware that people are watching, and we need to be wise and prudent in our conduct. Nothing we do — and that includes our entertainment choices — should hinder unbelievers from coming to Christ. Also, our choices should not put an obstacle in the way of struggling brothers and sisters as they try to follow God. 

When Should We Not Use Entertainment?

There are at least two good purposes for entertainment: to give us rest and to bring joy. But there are also times when it’s not wise to use entertainment.

It’s not wise to use entertainment to satisfy sinful urges. This should be a given. Some Christians excuse sinful activity as “harmless” fun, mocking others who do not find their choices appropriate. Whenever we play the fool in entertainment, we may be flirting with danger. A good example of this was King Belshazzar in Babylon. The king entertained people in drunken and idolatrous reveling, and his foolishness led to his death as the Medes overthrew his kingdom. (Daniel 5

It’s not wise to use amusements to escape reality. God’s people are not meant to pursue entertainment at the expense of meeting life responsibilities. There is room for both work and relaxation with good entertainment. A catastrophic choice by King David offers a warning about relaxation apart from meeting obligations. Staying in Jerusalem to relax while his men went to war, the king gave in to sin (2 Samuel 11:1-27). 

It’s not wise to use entertainment if we’re consumed by it. This can be understood in two ways. We can become so absorbed in our relaxation or amusements that we cannot be interrupted. Entertainment should never consume us so much — being glued to the television, for example — that we cannot see others’ needs or stop to help them. While it’s true that Jesus withdrew for a relaxing getaway to a lake, He had compassion on the crowds that followed Him and healed their sick. A hallmark of Jesus’ ministry was His willingness to be interrupted to help people. We can’t let entertainment get in the way of walking in His steps.

Also, being consumed by different forms of entertainment can mean that they take charge of our thoughts, time, and resources. God wants so much more for us.

What Biblical Principles Can Guide Our Entertainment Choices?

There are a number of biblical principles that can help us make wise choices about entertainment.  

The Conscience Principle

God gives us a moral compass, our conscience. He wants us to have a clear conscience. A weak, immature conscience is produced by a malfunctioning value system. Our conscience can be hi-jacked by worldly beliefs, Satan’s lies, or our own sinful nature. God will strengthen our moral compass as we pursue His will and ways in the Scriptures.

In regard to entertainment, we might ask: How important is a good conscience to me? Does this entertainment bring glory to God? Would I be embarrassed in this activity if Jesus returned? Can I openly thank Him for this entertainment? 

The Counsel Principle

We receive godly counsel from many sources: our Heavenly Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. In regard to entertainment, we might ask: Does God’s Word give “light” or direction about this? Have I prayed about my amusements with humility and a desire for God’s will? What kind of counsel have I sought — godly or worldly? 

The Convictions Principle

Convictions aren’t opinions, they are firmly-held beliefs that ultimately drive our choices and help us set healthy boundaries. In regard to entertainment, we might ask: What are my beliefs and values about “disputable matters”? Am I walking in integrity and godliness in this activity? 

The Commitment Principle

For Christians, all choices to live for God involve our commitment to Him and to His Word. Commitment choices may begin with the words, “I will” — such as “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” Many Scriptures can also be personalized to create a commitment choice. We might ask: Am I truly committed, like Jesus, to doing God’s will? How can I discern what is good and acceptable with God? How does Philippians 4:8 speak to my entertainment choices?

The Cause Principle

Our motives matter to God. We need to be careful about the “why” of our entertainment, what causes us to choose certain activities. We might ask: What is my motive for participating in this? Am I seeking to please God? Is my heart fooling me concerning this amusement? 

The Control Principle

Though calling Jesus “Lord,” we may still want to control our own lives. If we are not careful, different forms of entertainment can begin to “lord over” our lives. In regard to entertainment, we might ask: Is this Spirit-led or fleshly? Do I have peace in my heart from the Spirit of God concerning this choice? Do I understand how Satan can quickly cause sinful choices to destroy us? Would Satan get the upper hand in my life if I do this? Could this entertainment lead to addiction or bondage to sin?

The Consequences Principle

Every choice has a consequence for good or evil. We need to anticipate natural consequences in our entertainment choices. We might ask: Is this beneficial in my life? Does it feed ungodly desires? As a disciple of Jesus, have I counted the cost of this entertainment in my life? 

The Concern Principle

In a culture that encourages us to push personal agendas over the needs of others, it’s easy to become selfish and not consider how our entertainment choices might affect those around us. We need to ask: Is this a hindrance to my life or something that might cause my weaker brothers’ or sisters’ in Christ to stumble into sin? Will my choice show that I love others and am concerned about harming them with my choice in entertainment? 

None of these principles stand alone, but taken together, they can help us make choices that honor God, lead to our spiritual growth, and encourage blessings in others’ lives.

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Where Does Entertainment Fit into a Biblical Perspective?

When you read all those principles, you might have thought, Whew! That’s a lot to consider!

The underlying reason why entertainment choices matter is this: God wants us to enjoy good things. He’s not an everlasting killjoy. Paul told Timothy that God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Our Heavenly Father wants us to experience the joys of abundant life, and He can help us find those joys in legitimate, godly ways. He is pleased when His people pursue wholesome, life-building entertainment.

Jesus designed time with His disciples apart from the crowd. He wanted to give them relief in the stresses of ministry. He did not advocate escape from reality, but rather helped them embrace reality in a rhythm of work and relaxation. Besides prayer, the disciples’ time with the Lord likely included healing humor and storytelling, music, and other relaxing activities. 

A final thought: While entertainment can bring us joy and rest, we need to remember that no amount of entertainment or amusement can bring us ultimate fulfillment. That is only found in walking with God. It is in knowing Him and keeping our thoughts and hearts in the Word of God that we can find a proper perspective on all of life, even our entertainment choices.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/gorodenkoff

Dawn Wilson 1200x1200Dawn Wilson has served in revival ministry and missions for more than 50 years. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn assists author and radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with research and works with various departments at Revive Our Hearts. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, publishes Upgrade with Dawn, and writes for