Waiting for the Weekend?
Posted by Hal in Civilization, History

Ah, the weekend’s finally here.  Looking forward to the weekend is such an institution, even officially-atheist nations like China shut down for Sunday.  Here in America, Saturday’s time to catch up on some yardwork, maybe wash the car, but then it’s time to play.  Sometimes it seems like the weekend is our goal line for all the days before!  No wonder they write songs about it.

Now, is anything wrong with that?  The answer may surprise you, and even more when you realize that even the Puritans thought games and recreation could be Biblical and righteous!  Check out this unexpected quotation we include in chapter 6 of Raising Real Men:

Games may be divided into three sorts: games of wit or industry, games of hazard, and a mixture of both.  Games of wit or industry are such as are ordered by the skill and indusry of man.  Of this sort are shooting … running, wrestling, fencing, music, and the games of chess and draughts [checkers] … These, and all of this kind, wherein the industry of the min and body hath the chiefest stroke, are very commendable, and not to be disliked.

Most of the time, the Puritans are thought of as killjoys. Sometimes, we ourselves think “upright” and “uptight” are the same thing – if it’s hard or unpleasant or austere, that must be the best course to take. Instead, this Puritan says that entertainment that exercises the mind and body is very commendable and not to be disliked!

So taking some time off at the end of the week can be not just fun, but a positive, moral good!

Here’s the other, the obvious, point – not every entertainment is a worthwhile use of our time.  Riding around the countryside smashing mailboxes isn’t exactly good clean fun, right?  Maybe we don’t have to spend Saturday night reading Augustine’s Confessions, but an evening reading True Confessions is better spent on something else.  Perkins summarized his thoughts on the matter in four points:

“Rule 1.  We are to make choice of recreations that are of least offense and best report.” Don’t cause trouble or damage reputations by our choice of amusements.

“Rule 2.  Our recreations must be profitable [i.e. beneficial] to ourselves and others, and they must also tend to the glory of God.” This is why playing checkers might be good and shooting craps might not.

“Rule 3. The end [i.e. the purpose] of our recreation must be to refresh our bodies and minds.” J.C. Ryle said if we really worked our six days, we wouldn’t be quibbling over what to do with the seventh.  God never intended us to work 24/7.  He even commanded times of feasting and celebration, to rejoice and remember. as well as time to rest.

“Rule 4. Recreation must be moderate and sparing, even as the use of meat and drink and rest.” Everything needs to be in proportion – it’s overkill if we’re perpetually worn out by the weekend that we’re no good for work and school on Monday!

So glorify God, have a good time, and we’ll see you next week!

(The quotes above are from our chapter on boys and competition.  Click here if you’d like to read the whole chapter!)

[Historical Note: William Perkins was a leader in the English Puritan movement during the time of Queen Elizabeth I.  He died in 1602, one year before the Jamestown Settlement was founded.]