As a Christian, how should you think well about sports and hobbies? Can Christians watch sports or enjoy hobbies? Should they? Those are the questions behind this brief Q&A.
Do you have any hobbies or sports?
I’m not into sports so much. I like watching sports occasionally, but not very often. Baseball’s my sport because I can have it running in the background and don’t really have to pay too much attention to it. Hobbies, a little bit. Not really my thing now. I’ve got enough to do in life and really so much of what I do, especially reading and researching is such joy to me that that kind of is my hobby. But you know, I’ll watch Netflix or something sometimes with the family or with my wife and, a little bit, but I don’t have a serious hobby I really commit myself to, other than perhaps photography. Aileen and I have gotten into it a little bit, and when we can, when we have opportunity, we might escape the city a little bit and find something worth shooting. But, we don’t live in the right area of the world to really do a whole lot of that.
Does the Bible have anything to say about hobbies and sports?
I don’t know that the Bible gives us a lot of clear direction on hobbies and sports, and I think that’s partly because when the Bible was written, people didn’t have the recreational time we do today. So, we live in a time where we have so much time available to us. I mean, we’re still very busy and we still spend our evening’s driving the children around and doing these sorts of things, but we have so much time and we consider it today this inalienable right that I should have four or five hours in the evening where I can turn my mind off of work-related matters and I should be able to commit myself to watching television or watching sports or playing sports or playing games or whatever it is that I do recreationally. That’s a real privilege and historically, it’s a real aberration. You look back through history, most people were subsistence living. They were working much, much harder, much, much longer hours that we were. So, and that was true back in biblical times. So yes, we’ll find some hints about proper use of our time. We can see the apostle Paul often referencing sports, which makes us think he probably had some interest in sports. He certainly borrowed those metaphors a lot. I don’t think we’re going to find a ton of direct guidance about hobbies in general, and certainly our specific hobbies in specific.
How do we distinguish a worthwhile hobby or sport or leisurely activity?
One of the things that’s funny about hobbies, at least in my assessment, is that we really get our own hobby, we really think that one is worthwhile. But we look at somebody else’s hobby and we think it’s ridiculous that they would commit time and attention to that. So, the example I like to use is, some women will look at men and their video gaming and think, that’s just ridiculous, and some men will look at women with their coloring books, those two very prominent hobbies today, and think that’s ridiculous. So, I think that in a sense, that’s the point of a hobby, is it isn’t something that in and of itself is all that worthwhile, but it is relaxing. And as long as it’s not unbiblical or ungodly, I think we’re free to pursue those things and we probably shouldn’t be passing a lot of judgment on others because again, many of our hobbies don’t really make sense. If you’re deeply into football, and somebody else is deeply into tennis, I mean really both hobbies are absolutely ridiculous on the one hand. On the other hand, if we find them relaxing and enjoyable, we’re free to enjoy them, God doesn’t prevent it. So, in fact, I think He invites us to enjoy them for noble purposes.
What are some advantages of having hobbies, playing sports or leisurely activities?
Sports, whatever you enjoy, can be very relaxing. Life is difficult, right. Life is busy, there’s a lot going on. We get tired, we get weary. Hobbies, sports, good movies, television, all of these things can be a good way of recharging. They can be a good way of doing something different that we find relaxing. And so, work, vocation, whatever it is, it does wear us out, it does make us tired. There’s real joy then, in turning our attention to something recreational, something we just do for the sheer pleasure of it. I’ve often found it interesting that many of the hobbies we do were things we enjoyed as kids, and now they’ve become hobbies. So some of those passions or interests remain, they maybe take on adult shapes or adult forms as we go on, but they often do harken back to childhood and the things we enjoyed in our lighter and more carefree days.