Monday, February 15, 2021

Early Christian Quotes On Entertainment

Early Christian Quotes On Entertainment


Theophilus of Antioch’s Book 3

(Late 2nd Century)

Paragraph 15:


We are forbidden even to watch shows of gladiators to avoid engaging in or being a supporter of murders. We should never witness other ungodly acts to protect our eyes and ears from being corrupted. We should not join in their evil speech. For they speak of cannibalism in these spectacles when the children of Olympia and Greece are eaten. They make adultery the subject of their dramas, both in the case of men and of gods, whom they celebrate in elegant language for honors and prizes.


But far be it from Christians to accept any such deeds, for with them lives self-control, self-restraint is practiced, monogamy is observed, purity is guarded, wrong exterminated, sin removed, goodness exercised, law carried out, worship performed, God acknowledged, truth governs, grace guards, peace screens them, the holy word guides, wisdom teaches, life directs, God reigns.



Clement of Alexandria's Instructor, Book 3

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 11:


Do not let men spend their time in barbers' shops and taverns, speaking nonsense. They should give up hunting for the women who sit near and endlessly talking poorly against people to get a laugh.


The game of dice is to be prohibited, and the pursuit of gain, especially by dicing.


Let spectacles, therefore, and plays that are full of indecency and full of gossip be forbidden. For what base action is it that is not exhibited in the theatres? And what shameless saying is not brought forward by the fools? And those who enjoy the evil that is in them copy it at home.



Cyprian's Letter to Donatus

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 8:


In the theatres, you will also see what may cause you grief and shame. It is the heartbreaking drama that reminds us of the crimes of the days before. The old horrors of killing one's parent and incest unfold in action calculated to express the image of the truth, so that, as time passes, these crimes would not be forgotten. Each generation is reminded through retelling history, that whatever has once been done may be done again. Crimes never die out over time; wickedness will not be abolished by process of time; godlessness is never buried in oblivion.


Things that happened before have become examples to us today. Moreover, as the actors teach evil and immorality, the spectator is moved either to reconsider what he may have done in secret or get ideas about what he may do. Adultery is learned while it is seen. While the mischief has the public’s approval, the lady, who may have gone to the show a modest woman, returns from it immodest.



Cyprian's On the Public Shows

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraphs 8-10:


We quickly get accustomed to what we hear and what we see. Because man's mind is drawn towards indecency and vices all on its own, what will it do if it its slippery will is tempted by physical temptation? What will it do if it is tempted by something outside itself? Therefore, the mind must be called away from such things as these.


The Christian has nobler causes if he wishes for them. He has true and profitable pleasures if he will recollect himself, not to mention those he cannot consider yet. He has that beauty of the world to look upon and admire. He may gaze upon the sun's rising, and again on its setting, as it brings around the changes of days and nights; the round moon, distinguishing the seasons in its waxings and wanings; the troops of shining stars, and those which glitter from on high with extreme mobility—their members divided through the changes of the entire year, and the days themselves with the nights distributed into hourly periods; the heavy mass of the earth balanced by the mountains, and the flowing rivers with their sources; the expanse of seas, with their waves and shores; and meanwhile, the air, existing equally everywhere in perfect harmony, expanded in the midst of all, and in agreeable and pleasing bonds bringing all things to life, now scattering showers from the contracted clouds, now recalling the serenity of the sky with its refreshed purity; and in all these areas of the earth their appropriate inhabitants—in the air the birds, in the waters the fishes, on the earth man. Let these, I say, and other divine works, be the show for faithful Christians.


What theatre built by human hands could ever be compared to such works as these? Although it may be constructed with immense piles of stones, the mountain crests are loftier; and although the fretted roofs glitter with gold, they will be surpassed by the brightness of the starry sky. Never will anyone admire the works of man if he has recognized himself as the son of God. He degrades himself from the height of his nobility if he admires anything but the Lord.


I say, let the faithful Christian devote himself to the sacred Scriptures, and there he will find worthy uses for his faith. He will see God establishing His world and making not only the other animals, but that marvelous and better fabric of man. He will gaze upon the world in its delightfulness, righteous shipwrecks, the rewards of the good, and the punishments of the ungodly, seas drained dry by a people, and again from the rock seas spread out by a people. He will behold harvests descending from heaven, not pressed in by the plow; rivers with their hosts of waters bridled in, exposing dry crossings. In some cases, he will behold faith struggling with the flame, wild beasts overcome by devotion and soothed into gentleness. He will look also upon souls brought back even from death. Moreover, he will consider the marvelous souls brought back to the life of bodies that themselves were already consumed. And in all these things he will see a still greater show—that devil who had triumphed over the whole world lying prostrate under the feet of Christ.


How honorable is this exhibition, brothers and sisters! How delightful, how necessary to continually gaze upon the source of one's hope and to open our eyes to one's salvation! This is a spectacle that is beheld even when sight is lost. This is an exhibition which is given by neither military commander nor elected official. It is given by Him who is alone and above all things and before all things and of whom are all things, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and honor for ever and ever.



Cyprian's Letter to Euchratius

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraphs 1-2:


A certain actor, having joined your church, continues to follow his disreputable art; and as a master and teacher of acting, we wont’ say he instructs boys in the career but destroys them. You ask whether someone like this ought to be in Communion with us. I do not think this benefits the divine majesty or the discipline of the Gospel that such a disgraceful and vile virus should pollute the modesty and credit of the Church. For since, in the law, men are forbidden to put on a woman's garment, and those that disregard this law are condemned, how much greater is the crime when a man wears women's clothes and also expresses feminine gestures by the teaching of an immodest art.


Do not let anyone exempt themselves if he has given up acting but is still teaching the art to others. For he cannot appear to have given it up while encouraging others in his place, and who, instead of himself alone engaging in such a career, he encourages many to take up the career in his place…But if such a person quits their career and claims to be in poverty and of small means, he can be counted among the rest who are maintained by the Church's support; that is, if he will be content with very frugal and simple food.




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