Everyone enjoys having a good time. And we all know that sometimes morals can get in the way of all that. So over the years of fighting this battle I have found several ways to overcome hurdles such as your conscience, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and those pesky Christians who take the Bible and their faith way too seriously. We all want to go to heaven. We even appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for us. But do we really want that to affect what we entertain ourselves with? No way! Why should Jesus death for me sway whether I can watch the latest episode of my favorite TV sitcom? If you are searching for ways to deal with these obstacles and others like them, look no further! Just follow these steps, and before you know it, you will no longer feel guilty for finding wickedness entertaining.
- First and Foremost: deal with the Pesky Christian (PC) who takes the Bible and their faith way too seriously. The way I define a PC is anyone who gives the impression they take the Bible and their faith slightly more seriously than I do. In the end that’s really who you are uncomfortable with anyways, right? If bad company corrupts good morals, then surely the opposite of that is true. And we don’t want someone’s presence accomplish what the conscience has been calloused from doing (After all, that took a lot of hard work!). Just keep telling yourself, “my entertainment is not the problem, their confronting me is the problem.”
- Spend as little time as possible with PCs. Just their mere presence can make you feel guilty or bad about you being who you are. And God would never want you to experience guilt or shame, right? I have learned in my walk with God, that if I ever sense any form of shame or guilt, that really can’t be the Holy Spirit. He wants me to be happy and feel good about myself (I mean, the Bible does say He is the Comforter). Besides, you really won’t have much to talk about with these PCs anyways. They will likely just want to talk about Jesus Christ, the Gospel, the Bible, something the Holy Spirit has been teaching them, or their struggles with sin (which will only make you feel guilty for the lack of those experiences in your own life). Don’t even bring up the latest TV shows you have been watching. You will regret it. They will likely be “grieved” and not know how to relate to you on this subject. Just like you don’t know how to relate to them about their “pursuit to know God deeper” and all that mumbo jumbo. You simply can NOT be spending much time with people who seem further along in the faith than you!
- Use the word “legalist” and “legalism” liberally. This may be the most important tip I give you. The goal is to redefine legalism so that you can equate anyone calling your entertainment “sin” a legalist. The most effective definition I have found for legalism is: the practice of honoring, obeying, or encouraging anyone else to obey a law or rule. Trust me on this. You may think that definition is broader than you want it to be to accomplish your goal. But the masses will not think of the logical consequence of this definition. Instead, they will only apply this definition to ancient rules (from the Bible) that interfere with your amusements. If someone even attempts to apply this definition (consistently) to something that is taboo in your culture they will instantly be labeled “extreme” and their thinking will be assumed “absurd.” This secures the rules you like staying “in play” while eliminating all those values and rules in the Bible that are just a bit too restrictive.
- Spend all your fellowship time with people who love to engage in the same entertainment. I cannot stress this enough. If you are going to get over your conscience and conviction by the Holy Spirit, you must spend a lot of time with others who enjoy the same things. Remember, there is strength in numbers. And be sure to make casual references to your walk with God and stuff like that. This will convince you that you are having a profitable time with your friends. Every time guilt starts to creep up on you, you can just appeal to these times where you talked about God. This will bring reassurance that you really aren’t that bad.
- When you are with your friends (who enjoy the same things) don’t be afraid to talk about PC types. This will make you feel much better about yourself. The more you do this, the more you will persuade yourself that you are way better off than they are. You will become way more conscious of their sin and, in the process, completely forget about your guilt! You may even thank God you are not like those PCs. Use clichés like, “I have a relationship with Jesus, not a religion.” Religion is made up of useless things like: covenants and commitment, devotion and traditions, consistency and obedience. But relationships are all about feelings. And you feel quite good about you and Jesus. You and Him got your own thing going. Don’t let other people and their interpretation of the Bible get in the way with that!
- Do NOT be afraid to use the “legalist” trump card to relieve any guilt or to change the subject. If you don’t, you may never rid yourself of their views. But by labeling their commitment to holiness as “legalism” it now makes them the focal point and the problem. Everyone knows that Jesus was most upset with the Pharisees (the teachers of Israel) because of this sin. So by associating them with the Pharisees you create the perfect smoke screen.
- Speaking of sin, become very skilled at finding or diagnosing any sin possible in these PC types. This will take the attention off your harmless guilty pleasures and put the spotlight on them. The best part is, the peskier they are the easier they fall for this. These types are so afraid of sin that when you bring up their sin, they will feel horrible about it and repent of their sin with you right then and there (this may be uncomfortable, but the reward is worth it). They will become so aware of their sin that they will forget about your
sin… (Ahem) sorry….er…situation. An effective sin to point out that works every time is pride. Everyone knows that pride is the worst sin. So if you can point out that they likely had pride in coming to you about this issue, or that they had a prideful tone, or the way they said it seemed prideful (because perception is way more important than content), really, anything including “pride” will shut them up. Remember it is pride for them to come to you about your entertainment. But it is never pride for you to defend your entertainment, or continue to watch your worldly entertainment, or constantly turn the conversation from your entertainment to their pride and sin.
- Become a pro at pointing out “redeemable” aspects in the show. It doesn’t matter how small it is or how insignificant it is to the overarching plot. Anything, even the smallest of things, which is honorable, is justification to watch pretty much anything you want. For those of you who are new at this, here are some examples: “sure there is a graphic sex scene in it, but it is ok because they wait until they are married.” Or “I know there is a lot of language, sensuality, and other things in it, but the main character is such a nice guy.” Or “I know the whole plot is about woman competing for a man’s hand in marriage by alluring him sexually, but the guy has remained a virgin.”
After you have dealt with the problem from without you need to deal with the problem from within. Here’s a helpful list dealing with guilt and shame and justify whatever show or worldly pleasure you want.
- Remind yourself what you do in your spare time only affects you. Don’t let anyone try to point you to Bible verses that show the communal aspect of sin. Your entertainment doesn’t affect the fellowship of the believers, their worship, or their unity. It only affects you. And even that is debatable. And even if it did affect the assembly, no one ever said you were your brother’s keeper. Just keep telling yourself, “you can handle the stuff you watch” because you are “mature” and “grown-up.” You can always govern your appetite for pleasure. It safer to err on the side of licentiousness than to be overly cautious. Besides, a little remorseful fun never hurt anyone. It’s only the big sins that God is concerned about.
- Avoid anything that would tell you there is more to the Christian life. Some people will try to point to the experiences the early church had. I have even heard some try to say God is still empowering in this way in other churches around the world like He did in the Bible! They even blame the worldliness for the lack of power you may see in your own life or church, saying something about “grieving the Holy Spirit.” This is hogwash! God was evidently just moving and shaking things up more back then. Look around at all your friends and their churches. They don’t look much different, do they? Using other people who call themselves Christians is always the best standard for what kind of expectations you should have in your life.
- Never study or question your motives for why you delight in what you watch. This will only awaken your conscience and bring unnecessary guilt. You cannot be constantly looking at what you do and why you do it. That is way too exhausting, and it will only smother all the progress you have made in dealing with your shame and guilt. Remember your actions and delights are never a reflection of your heart. Your heart is whatever you think it is. And you simply must believe the best about your heart. You can never be too forgiving of yourself.
- Create grey areas. No doubt there are gray areas already in the Bible. But there simply aren’t enough! You will need to create new ones so that drawing lines in the sand is harder for people. Avoid at all cost using discernment or careful thinking and escape such people who do! Instead, think only in broad terms. The best way of creating gray areas is making the appeal that there are smart Christians on both sides of the issue. This creates the perception that if two people disagree and they are both smart, it must be an area we just can’t know for sure. We all know, whenever there is a disagreement on any given topic, it means the issue is just too complicated. In fact, use that word “complicated” a lot. It reinforces that this is a gray area. By the way, don’t listen to those people who know their history. They quickly expose the fallacies in this argument.
- Assume different standards for television than you do to real-life. If you can get yourself and others to believe this, much of your conscience and Bible issues will cease. The Lord of the Universe shouldn’t be Lord of the television. Television is the world that man created. So we should be able to write our own standards for what is and is not appropriate on there. Sure you would never watch a married couple have sex in real-life through a window (even with their permission). But that principle shouldn’t apply when watching the same thing through the window of your television screen, right? That’s because we must insist that what happens on TV isn’t real and so it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that all television shows include real people, acting out real things, in real life because it is being filmed by a camera. This makes it ok because in the end they are only acting. Besides, as long as it is nowhere explicitly labeled that you are watching a porno, you aren’t watching porno.
Well that concludes my list of helpful tips in successfully dealing with your own guilt without having to repent and trust in Jesus Christ and His good work. And don’t worry about how long this list may seem. Most of it, you will find, comes quite naturally! Oh, one last thing. Remember the word “inoculate.” This is a helpful word to remind me that I should engage in enough religion to appease any guilt that these other tips don’t cure. I find that spending just enough time in the Bible to be confused, but not enough time that I find answers, is a good balance. Church Attendance should be on par with the majority in your church. This really is the bare minimum. Any less and you will find yourself having to put a lot more effort in the other things on this list. And remember when you are there be sure to make the least of it. If you find any tips that you find particularly helpful for you please write and tell me at:
Mr. Casual Christian
666 Worldly Blvd.