On Fun, Part 1: Fun Is Good


I’d like to take a few posts to talk seriously about fun.

Seriously. About fun.

A few years back I did some thinking about the topic, thinking that eventuated in a chapel sermon at BJU on March 19, 2008. These days it seems helpful to run those ideas around the block again.

My first thought about fun is the title of this post.

Fun is good.

I’m not saying just that I like fun; that’s pretty much assumed in the definition of the word. What I’m saying here is a moral judgment, with a theological foundation.

Fun is good. Morally good. We ought to have fun.

Fun—what we might call entertainment if we were trying to be respectable—consists of a couple of elements: pleasure and rest—and, I think, simultaneously. I like my job, for example; it gives me a lot of pleasure, for a lot of reasons. But I wouldn’t call it entertainment, because it’s what I do for a living. Fun is stuff I do, well, just for the fun of it.

So, pleasure, and rest, simultaneously. Here’s biblical evidence—which, in my line of work, constitutes proof—that these things are good.

God Likes Both Pleasure and Rest

God isn’t shy about proclaiming that he greatly enjoys both pleasure and rest.

He takes pleasure

  • In uprightness (1Ch 29.17; contrast Ps 5.4)
  • In the prosperity of his servants (Ps 35.27)
  • In those who fear him (Ps 147.11)
  • In his people (Ps 149.4)
  • In the obedience of his Son (Is 53.10)
  • In the repentance of the wicked (Ezk 18.23; contrast v 32, Heb 10.38)
  • In his Temple (Hag 1.8)

Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12.32). God enjoys giving things to people he loves.

And at the climax of all history, the throng around God’s throne sings, “For your pleasure [all things] are and were created” (Rv 4.11). Pleasure is important enough to be the purpose for which God created the universe.

God seeks rest—

  • He ended the Creation week with a day of rest (Gen 2.2)—not because he was tired, of course, but because he was finished. Some might argue with me that the word rest here means simply completion, with no real parallel to the kind of “break” that we’re talking about. Fair enough. Then consider—
  • Jesus rested, for precisely the reasons we do (Mk 6.31). He apparently did so regularly and repeatedly. And if he did, then it’s blasphemous to suggest that there’s something wrong with it.

God Wants Us to Like Both Pleasure and Rest

Further, not only does God engage in and enjoy these two things, but he encourages—even commands—that we do the same.

In the Garden, God told Adam and Eve to eat of a great number of fruit trees, which, he said, “are good for food” (Gn 2.9). David writes that at God’s “right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16.11)—and that’s speaking not of God’s pleasure, but of that of his people, in his presence.

And then there’s this verse:

You shall make them drink of the river of your pleasures. (Ps 36.8)

Drinking deep from a whole river of pleasure. Did you know that verse was in the Bible? Check, if you don’t believe me.

What about rest?

God legislated a day of rest for his people—every week, and several more during major holidays. And as you may have noticed above, when Jesus took time to take a break and get away from the crowds, he told his disciples to come with him and rest as well.

I think it’s safe to conclude from this evidence that the two key elements of entertainment, pleasure and rest, are not only godly but divinely ordained.

We ought to be having fun.

It’s good.

So at this point do I just smile, wave, and tell the kids to “Have fun!”?

I think you’d agree that not all pleasure, not all rest, is good, or profitable, or wise. The woods is full of people who could tell you sad stories about that.

So how do we choose our fun?

We’ll take a look at that in the next post.

Dan Olinger Bio

Dr. Dan Olinger has taught at Bob Jones University since 2000, following 19 years as a writer, editor, and supervisor at BJU Press. He teaches courses in theology, New Testament, and Old Testament, with special interests in ecclesiology and the Pauline Epistles.