theology of recreation and leisure. We really don't know how to enjoy sports in
a way that doesn't afflict our conscience. For the most part, American
Christians approach sporting events--such as the Super Bowl this Sunday--the way
many Augustinians approach the physical aspects of the marital relationship.
Augustine considered sex (i.e. sex within marriage) to be a necessary evil
(Confessions 9.3); the physical relationship within marriage is
necessary for the propagation of the human race, and the typical Christian does
not have sufficient restraint anyway. Similarly, we suspect that our
preoccupation with sports is probably wrong. But, hey, we live in a fallen world
and watching the game is such a guilty pleasure.
Then we read the statements of Jesus ("We must do the works of Him who sent
Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work." John 9:4) or we read
about the exploits of Paul ("In labor and hardship, many sleepless nights,
hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and lacking clothing." See 2 Cor
11:22-33). We start feeling guilty.
I'm reminded of an incident in the life of the remarkable missionary, C. T.
Studd. Studd believed it a sin to take a day off, so he worked 18 hours a day, 7
days a week, 52 weeks a year. His daughter and son-in-law worked for the same
mission, and one day they dared to take a day of rest. Studd fired them. (Doreen
Moore recounts this incident in Good Christians, Good Husbands?--a book
I highly recommend). In a similar vein, evangelist D. L. Moody used to rail
against the sin of reading a newspaper on Sunday. I could go on, but suffice it
to say that Christians have always struggled to balance our commitment and
fervor for serving the kingdom with our body's and spirit's need for rest and
Actually, I believe there is a place for leisure in the Christian life.
Jesus--our example for life and how it is to be lived--made time for sleep,
rest, weddings and good food (Mark 6:31). Somewhere between the extremes of
aceticism ("everything is wrong") and antinomianism ("anything goes") is the
healthly Christian life that enjoys all things in moderation before God. We need
to think Christianly about sports and develop a good theology of rest and
recreation. We still have some work to do (no pun intended) in developing our
thinking about these matters. There is a right way to enjoy sports, games, and
fun to the glory of God--even the Super Bowl.
This post is cross-posted at www.betweenthetimes.com