Christians get accused of trying to use the political process and laws to stop people from having fun and experiencing fulfilling lives. (Ironically, the political process is the definition of un-fun.) Many folks believe entertainment, fulfillment, jesting, and gaiety (just so there’s no jesting about gaiety) would mostly be eliminated from society if Christians had their way. The question Christians should ask is: Should we shove our values down the throats of adults who have little comprehension of all the spiritual and physical ramifications for immorality? Heck, I’m not certain most Christians understand all the ramifications. When it comes to sin, adults have freewill. We’ve had freewill since the Garden. (Of course some of the “fun” sins I’ve indulged as an adult fall into the category of childish . . . . which though ironic, won’t get me off the hook in God’s eyes.)
Some of the fun yet immoral things people enjoy clearly cause physical or psychological harm. The harmful effects of other fun activities prohibited in the Bible are not so clear and we take it on faith that God does not want people to indulge them because they harm us in some way. Granted, we have an obligation to prevent behavior that harms people and society, especially behavior that harms the most innocent and vulnerable among us. On some issues we need to take a hard stand. But again, we can only take it so far before freewill trumps our efforts to protect adults from harm.
Last year I got hooked on Duck Dynasty. It’s a TV show about a multi-generation family (the Robertson’s) who found financial success making duck calls for hunters. At first, the Robertson brothers, uncle, and father come across as a bit edgy with their long hair, beards, and Southern drawl. But as you watch more episodes, you become aware that these guys are just having a good time, despite conflicts and setbacks in life. The program shows how faith is a key component of their life.
Some Christians say that God doesn’t promise us happiness or fun times. I suppose there is fair amount of truth in that theological argument. On the other hand, I don’t recall God promising us nothing but suffering in this life. Sure, we will have problems, but we can often choose whether to have some fun along the way. The alternative is to become a dour bitter Christian who has no joy in life and takes delight in thwarting the joy and fun of others. Genuine Christians with a truly transformed heart don’t like to see people have fun in sinful ways because of the damage it causes. They love people so much that they hate to see them harmed.
Before you theologians point out that I don’t know the difference between joy and fun, let me just say that the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the demonstration of the ability to have fun can be a great testimony of the presence of deep joy in a Christian’s life. So don’t feel guilty about having fun. It is possible to have a great deal of fun without slipping into debauchery.
There is a flock of turkeys that live near our house. They were feeding beside the highway when I drove to work this morning. They made me think of . . . Thanksgiving. They also made me think of how the Lord watches over us. You see, this particular rafter of turkeys consists of a mother bird and her almost-adult brood. The momma turkey stood with her neck stretched high to scan her surroundings for danger. While she stood guard, her nearby offspring pecked in the dirt for seeds and bugs. (Oddly, she didn’t possess the wherewithal to discern the dangers associated with feeding alongside the highway.) Anyhow, the brood was safe from predators as long as they remained close to their mother. The scene reminded me of what the Bible says Psalm 121: 7-8:
“The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.”
These are comforting words. But when I read this verse I can’t help but notice what seems like a contradiction in the phrase “from all harm.” The ostensible contradiction is this—despite what this verse says, bad things still happen to good people, even those who are close to God. Then it dawned on me: There is no contradiction because the Lord protects from every TYPE of harm or evil. It doesn’t necessarily mean we are protected from every INCIDENT of harm or evil, especially if we intentionally seek out sin and mischief. If we drift away from God, we have a greater risk of getting picked off by dangers in the world. Ultimately, this verse is about the protection of our soul. No matter what, God has our soul’s back.
Anyhow, when I think of all the bad decisions I’ve made and the precarious situations I’ve encountered in life, I’m either very lucky, or someone is watching over me. I’m sure it’s the latter. (Otherwise, I’d have won the lottery by now.)