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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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A Direct Answer


I read your column quite a bit, and I think you usually avoid giving direct answers like "Yes" and "No." Are you afraid of offending others? Jesus wasn’t. I know you’re trying to be cool, but I want direct answers!

Steve Answers:

Thank you for being honest and direct

Thank you for being honest and direct. Here’s my attempt at a direct answer for you. First of all, I’m not cool. I used to be, but I lost that about the time I was a teen.

When I respond to people’s questions in this column, I really do want to provide answers that are godly, biblical, honest, and practical. Sounding "cool" is the furthest thing from my mind.

For some questions a simple answer is easy. But most of the questions I receive have more than one possible answer. And when I offer more answers, I’m trying to help you see that life isn’t merely a set of simple "Yes" and "No" answers.

Here’s an example. The most frequent question I receive is "Can I go to the theater?" It would be too simple for me to say "No," because you could go to the theater no matter what I say. And you’re getting to the age at which you’ll make decisions for yourself.

Maybe you mean "Does God say it’s OK or not OK to go to the theater?" I’m not God, but I work for Him. So I look to Scripture for an answer. Since motion pictures were invented about 2,000 years after the Bible was written, there isn’t a simple answer in the Bible regarding the theater.

So I end up quoting Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things."

What wonderful guidelines from God! They aren’t specifically about theater attendance, but they certainly apply. Based on these criteria, can/should you go to the theater? That’s what you need to decide for yourself, based on what God, your parents, and others have taught you.

Here’s how I’d decide. The majority of what plays in theaters doesn’t fit Philippians 4:8. So I wouldn’t choose to be entertained by that. But some things shown in the theater do jive with Philippians 4:8. So I’d choose to be entertained by those things.

See, a simple "Yes" or "No" for attending the theater doesn’t work. (I’m not saying that anybody needs to go to the theater. I’m pointing out that banning all theater attendance isn’t consistent with Philippians 4:8.)

It can get more complicated. It’s possible never to attend the theater and to watch all kinds of trash on TV or videos. Or what if your church rents a theater and conducts evangelistic meetings there? (Some Adventist churches do that.) Should you not go?

I could make things even more complicated. What if Judges 19 was showing in a theater? (It would be terrible!) But God put it in the Bible. Why?

I understand that you wish I’d make answers simple for you. If you were a child, I would. But it’s time to grow up and wrestle with more than simple items (see John 7:24).

Most of what you’ll face in life isn’t simple (unless you ignore a lot of reality). It might not be "cool" to do this. But it’s the right thing to do now. 

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