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By Pastor Kevin Paulson


            QuestionWhy is it wrong to attend the theater?

            Answer:  First of all, we need to consider the guiding Biblical principle for Christians, in choosing entertainment.  In Philippians 4, verse 8, the Bible says:

            “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.”

            If these principles are applied to what is generally produced by Hollywood, I think most of us would agree that very few movies would be seen as worth our time.  Wherever we choose to watch something—whether in the home or somewhere else—we must conform to the principles of God’s Word.  Any production which glorifies evil, encourages violent or lustful thoughts, or nurtures the desire for a fantasy world that reduces one’s usefulness in practical life, is out of bounds for the Christian.

            What is more, as time grows short and preparation for the return of Christ becomes the priority of God’s people, less time will be devoted to activities not concerned with getting us ready to meet our God and to help others do the same.  For those seeking to be ready when their Lord appears in the clouds, far more time will be spent immersing themselves in the study of Scripture, the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, and in helping others prepare for heaven.  Even if some entertainment may be seen as borderline, the issue of time spent becomes paramount for those who recognize where we presently stand in the course of history.


            QuestionWhy do Adventists make such a big issue out of wearing jewelry, especially when some of them drive expensive cars and live in homes others could never afford?  Isn’t this hypocritical?

            Answer:  Before any issue of Christian behavior is discussed, we need to remember the words of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).  Unless we embrace this spirit of total surrender to God’s will, we will look instead for a ‘minimum-requirement’ religion which asks, “Lord, what’s the least I have to do to squeak into heaven?”

            A man and woman in love do things for each other which may seem silly, pointless, or even extreme to those outside the relationship.  But they do them nonetheless, because pleasing each other is the consuming passion of their lives.  The same is true in our relationship with God.  Obedience to His will, as revealed in His written counsel, may seem trivial and bizarre to those whose lives revolve around pleasing themselves, but the converted Christian,  seeks not his own will, but God’s (Luke 22:42; John 5:30).

            With this in mind, let us consider the issue of jewelry and adornment.

            The Old Testament offers two examples of how commitment to God affected the bodily ornaments worn by His professed people.  In Genesis 35, when Jacob and his family renewed their vows to God at Bethel, they buried their earrings as well as their idols under a tree (verse 4).  Another passage, in Exodus 33, is even stronger:

            “When the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned, and no man put on his ornaments.  For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the people of Israel, You are a stiff-necked people: if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you.  So now put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what to do with you.  Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward” (Ex. 33:4-6, RSV).

            Two New Testament passages,  give a similar message:

            “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but which becometh women professing godliness with good works” (I Tim. 2:9-10).

            “Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel, but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (I Peter 3:3-4).

            These verses form the Biblical foundation of the historic stand Seventh-day Adventists have taken concerning the wearing of ornamental jewelry.  While it may be true that some individuals violate the underlying principle presented here through extravagance in other areas, this is no excuse for us to disobey the clear counsel of God.  We should never let another person’s inconsistency become an excuse for our own disobedience to God.  It isn’t permissible for me to trash one of God’s standards simply because others are hypocritical in the way they uphold that standard.  The best answer to hypocrisy is not  “letting everyone do their own thing,”  but for all of us to strive for total conformity to what God says in every line, claiming the Biblical assurance offered by the apostle Paul: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).


            QuestionWhy are some so opposed to the use of contemporary music in the church? 

            Answer:  We need to establish, from the start, what the Bible teaches about worship.  Worship is NOT each individual’s own private business, with no absolute standard of right and wrong available to measure our choices.  The scriptures shed much light on the manner in which we should worship God.

            The very first religious controversy recorded in the Bible—the dispute between Cain and Abel—was over how to worship God.  Cain chose a method contrary to the one God had authorized, in brining an offering of fruit instead of a lamb (Gen. 4:3-5).  Their intensions were the same - worshiping the true God, yet one worshiped Him in the way He had commanded, while the other chose a different way.  And God was obviously not pleased with the latter choice. 

             The same is true with the worship of the golden calf at Mount Sinai.  Aaron described this worship as “a feast to the Lord” (Ex. 32:5).  Yet this way of worship a way of worshiping the Lord which the Lord had forbidden (Ex. 20:4).  Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu thought they were worshiping the Lord while they offered strange fire in the sanctuary (Lev. 10:1).  And God was so displeased with their manner of worship that He struck them both dead (verse 2).

               The Bible is clear…. the manner in which we choose to worship God matters.  That is what the Sabbath/Sunday controversy is all about.

            Ellen White predicted that false forms of worship, in particular concerning music, would find their way into the church just before Jesus returns.  In her words:

            “The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation.  Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated.  There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing.  The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions.  And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit.
            “The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise.  This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure, sincere, elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time. . . . The truth for this time needs nothing of this kind in its work of converting souls. . . . Those things which have been in the past will be in the future.  Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted.  God calls upon His people, who have the light before them in the Word and in the Testimonies, to read and consider, and to take heed” (Selected Messages, vol. 2, pp. 36-38).

            The above statement is very sobering, and should help church members understand why this issue is so crucial.  Music affects our moods.  Anyone who has watched a movie knows that, if there is a romantic scene in the movie, there is music which creates that particular mood;  if there is a scene of battle, a very different kind of music is used; if there is a scene of an attacker stalking a victim, another, very eerie kind of music is heard in the background.  No Hollywood director would accept the premise that the kind of music employed in these scenes is “all subjective.”  And if this is true regarding movies, doesn’t it logically follow that there is music that is appropriate for worship and for the house of God, and other types which are not?

            Another important issue to consider is that worship is more than praise.  Too often, contemporary worship services in our churches are called “praise services.”  Praise, of course, is a wonderful thing.  But the problem with so much of contemporary Christian music is that other aspects of worship—repentance, the call to holiness, the summons to judgment, recounting God’s mighty acts in history—are almost completely ignored in its messages.  This is a problem that is often lost sight of in this discussion.  It isn’t only the beat and loudness of contemporary music that is problematic in a spiritual sense.  It is also the shallow spiritual content of many of the words. 

            The final test of this world’s history will be over worship.  It is imperative that we recognize the seriousness and sacredness of true worship, and subtract from our worship experience anything that would lessen the forcefulness of God’s appeal for total allegiance to Him.  Let us remember, that how we choose to worship dictates who we worship and are offering allegiance to.


            QuestionIs it wrong to date or marry someone who is not a member of the church?

            Answer:  The question of who we choose to intimately spend our lives with is the most important we will ever confront, second to the decision to accept Christ Himself.  For the Seventh-day Adventist contemplating a marriage to one outside the faith, a number of very practical and real problems come quickly to mind.

            How, for example, can an Adventist parent teach a child the Biblical truth about the Antichrist of Bible prophecy, if one is married to a Roman Catholic?  How, if one’s partner is not an Adventist and chooses a diet contrary to Adventist standards, is one going to teach their child the health message?  (Could you explain to your son or daughter why they can’t eat what Mommy/Daddy is eating?)  If one is married to a Baptist or Methodist, who holds that a deceased grandparent is enjoying the bliss of heaven, how is an Adventist father or mother going to teach a child the Biblical truth of what happens at death?

            At the bottom line, parenting is a three-person job—involving a father, a mother, and God.  The power of the unbelieving parent’s example is all that is needed to bring disharmony into such a home.  No arguments or fights are needed, just a contrary example depicted before the family.  Which is why Ellen White speaks of a spiritually divided household as “a home where the shadows are never lifted” (Messages to Young People, p. 440). 

            The Seventh-day Adventist way of faith and life encompasses everything.  All we believe and all we do is affected by that faith.  The Christian’s journey should not have any such negative influences detracting from its purpose.  The divine command to abstain from outside marriages (Deut. 7:3-4; II Cor. 6:14-16) is therefore as relevant now as in the days of God's ancient people.