If Paul had thought like some today, he would have written to the Ephesians like this:
“Paul the apostle to the saints at Ephesus. Brethren, I rejoiced when I went into the theater in your city to behold the shows. The play of Aristophanes was a magnificent story of a man who overcame poverty and poor health as a child to become a famous warrior in Greece. Such zeal! Such courage! I commend this show to the church for your edification, for Christians can learn much from it. Yes, a pagan influence prevailed during the performance. The crowd praised Zeus and blasphemed God. The actors took God’s name in vain and poured out filthy words. The women on stage displayed their nakedness with immodest apparel. But be of good cheer, brethren! Evil associations will not corrupt good morals if you look for the good and ignore the bad.”
Who can imagine Paul writing such words? Plays and concerts were common forms of entertainment in the ancient world of the New Testament. People then had no televisions, giant screens, or sound systems, but they enjoyed drama and music. Perhaps not all of these shows were bad, but many were. In the second century Tertullian said Greek drama was filled with scenes of lust and perversion. He scolded “the father who carefully protects and guards his virgin daughter’s ears from every polluting word” and yet “takes her to the theatre himself, exposing her to all its vile words and attitudes.” Shows then were no different from movies today.
The Bible teaches that what you put into your mind affects you. The cares, riches, and pleasures of this life choke the Word in our hearts (Luke 8: 14). Evil comes “from within, out of the heart of men” (Mark 7:21). Truly as a man “thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). A Christian who denies this is arguing in vain. We can no more put rotten food into our stomachs without feeling the effects than we can put ungodliness into our souls without weakening our faith.
The old warning “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Exod. 23:2) often goes unheeded by God’s people. People put pressure on us to go along with this world. Ancient Greeks would ask each other, “Have you seen this show? You’ve got to see it!” Today we hear the same question. “Have you watched this movie? You’ll love it!” Everybody seems to be excited about it, including some members of the church. Few are concerned about the sex scenes and God’s name being taken in vain.
Many religious people get their spirituality from movies and song lyrics. They get excited when they talk about a ﬁlm of victory that brought them to tears. Never mind the nudity and profanity. The movie made them feel spiritual. “But I don’t pay any attention to the bad parts. I look for the redeeming qualities.” That is like rummaging through a garbage bin to find a penny.
Nothing the world offers should thrill our hearts and lift up our souls like the stories of the Bible. May we read it with joy and have a discerning eye toward the pleasures of this world.
West End church of Christ