I found this article on the internet quite some time ago. My posting this does not imply full endorsement of the website (s) that house this article, nor does it imply full endorsement of any of the so-called “church fathers” listed.
While I do not agree with every implication of watching wickedness listed in this article, I DO however agree with Scripture’s teaching that, as Christians, we must not allow ourselves to be entertained by evil, for we ought not to think lightly of sin:
“who knowing the righteous order of God, that those practicing such things are worthy of death, not only do them, but also approve those practicing them” (Romans 1:32).
“I will set no wicked thing before my eyes; I have hated the work of those who turn aside; it shall not fasten upon me” (Psalm 101:3).
If we truly hate and do not approve of things like lewdness, fornication, and adultery then we ought not to bring the brothel into our homes via movies or television. We are not to play the role of priest in this silver chapel of whoredom for even a nanosecond. With that said, here’s the aforementioned article:
Additional Authorities Against the Stage.
AS the Stage is become a fashionable entertainment, and has many advocates, even among the professors of religion, it may not be improper to shew that the sentiments of our church respecting it are not singular, but have been maintained by the ancient fathers, and primitive councils, when religion was held in true esteem among Christians. We have not room to insert the canons themselves, nor to give full extracts from the writings of the fathers. The following will serve as a specimen.
Clemens Alex. says,
“That not only the use, the sight, the hearing, but the very memory of Stage-plays should be abolished.”—”That pedagogues must not lead youths to plays or theatres, that may not unfitly be called the chaos of pestilence, because these conventicles, where men and women meet together promiscuously, to behold one another, are the occasion of lewdness, and there they give or plot wicked counsel.”
“It is not lawful for faithful Christians, yea it is altogether unlawful, to be present at these plays.”
Tertullian calls the play-house, the chapel of venery, the house of lechery, the consistory of uncleanness.
“That Christians must not lift up their eyes to Stage-plays, the pleasurable delights of polluted eyes, lest their lusts be inflamed by them.”
Ambrose calls Stage-plays, spectacles of vanity, by which the Devil conveys incentives of pleasure to men’s hearts: therefore “let us” says he “turn away our eyes from these vanities.”
“That nothing brings the oracles and ordinances of God into so great contempt, as admiring and beholding Stage-plays:—And that neither sacraments, nor any other of God’s ordinances, will do a man good, so long as he goes to Stage-plays.”
“That in Stage plays there is a certain apostacy from the faith: For what is the first confession of Christians in their baptism, but that they do protest, that they renounce the Devil, his pomps, spectacles, and works: know thou Christian, when thou dost knowingly return to Stage-plays, thou hast violated thy vow altogether.”
The ancient fathers appear harmonious in condemning Stage-plays, as being ordinarily stuffed with the names, histories, fables, rites, villainies, incests, rapes, oaths, imprecations, and invocations of the idol gods.
“That the catholic and apostolic church doth reprobate, and forbid all theatres, Stage-plays, and such like heathenish spectacles.”
So much for the fathers.
Stage-plays in their several kinds were prohibited, reprobated, and condemned, and the actors of them appointed to be excommunicated by the canons of general and particular councils. E.g. the councils of Arles, Eliberine, Carthage, Hippo, the African, and that at Constantinople. The famous reformed Protestant church of France, that the other reformed churches have followed since, has these words, can. 28.,
“Moreover it shall not be lawful for the faithful (or Christians) to go to comedies, tragedies, interludes, farces, or other Stage-plays, acted in public or private, because in all ages these have been forbidden among Christians, as bringing in a corruption of good manners.”
The reasons why Stage-plays have been condemned by the fathers and ancient councils are the following.
1. As being a breach of the seventh commandment, tending to expose persons to lewd company, and lewd practices.
2. As conforming to, and partaking with, heathens, in their idolatrous and superstitious practices, forbidden to the people of God in scripture.
3. As contrary to, and a practical renunciation of, the baptismal vow of Christians, wherein they engage to renounce the Devil, and all his pomps, and works, which they reckon acting and beholding Stage-plays to be.
4. As taking away the necessary distinction betwixt Christians and heathens.
5. As being unsuitable unto and inconsistent with the gospel of Christ, which forbiddeth Christians to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, or to be conformed to the world; and requires them to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time; and to abstain from all appearance of evil.
6. As being a corruption of manners, incentives to levity and lust, and seminaries and nurseries of uncleanness.
7. As holding their original, and institution, from the Devil, the inventor of them, being long devoted and appropriated to the worship and service of the heathen Devil-gods.
It may be alledged, that these observations apply to the Stage, only in its corrupt state; but do not apply to it now, when greatly refined. A few sentences from one, who wrote against it since its supposed refinement, will answer this objection.
The Stage is not condemned as some other diversions, because they are dangerous, and likely to be occasions of sin; but it is condemned, as drunkenness and lewdness, as lying and profaneness are condemned, not as things, that may only be the occasion of sin; but such as are in their own nature sinful.
It is a contradiction to all Christian holiness and all the methods of arriving at it. Can any one think that he has a Christian spirit; that his heart is changed and that he is born again of God; while he is diverting himself with the lewdness and profaneness of the Stage?
Can he think, that he is endeavouring to be holy as Christ is holy, to live by his wisdom, and to be full of his Spirit, so long as he allows himself in such an entertainment.
If you are asked, why it is unlawful to attend the Stage, you can answer, because it is an entertainment that is contrary to all the parts of the Christian religion, and contradicts every holy temper, which the spirit of Christianity requires. So that, if you live in the use of this diversion, you have no grounds to hope, that you have the spirit and heart of a Christian. If you desire to be truly religious in heart and mind, it is as necessary to renounce the Stage, as to seek God and pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Printed by Stephen Young, Glasgow.
Thus endeth this posted article.