Friday, February 02, 2007
So I found this article from Walther posted on a website dedicated to the darker side of Lutheranism. (By "darker side," I mean the kinds of Lutherans who don't believe women should play sports because a) it doesn't teach them anything about being mothers, and b) it invariably leads to lesbianism. No, I'm not kidding, they really do exist.)

Anyways, think twice next you go to the movies, and be sure to ask yourself, "What would Walther do?"

Lectures against the Theatre.
From the German of C. F. W. Walther, D. D., and adapted
for the WITNESS, by R...r...
XV. PAPER (Conclusion.)

We proceed to the Fourth argument from Scriptures against the attendance of the theatre. 1 John 2, 15. 16. we read, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of the life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” But the play-houses are most eminently the temple of the world in which it worships its three-headed idol, Lust of the eyes, Lust of the flesh, and Pride of life sacrificing body and soul. Whoever goes to a play-house consequently goes to the church of the world.

But still more. Fifth, God's Word says, Eph. 5, 4: “Filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, let it not be once named among you, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks.” In the plays, however, especially in comedies, “filthiness, foolish talking, and filthy, or, at least, unchaste jesting” constitute the principle part; for the world does not wish to cry over sins, but to laugh at them. You, however, that are Christians, do not say, Oh, we shall be very careful not to laugh then! First, you do not know whether you will not laugh when you see them all laughing, just as Peter, having once stepped into the house of blasphemers of Christ and been seized with fear of them, finally uttered blasphemies himself. And second, Christian reader, are you not ashamed to go to a place where all kinds of shameful words enter your ear and soil your souls? O leave it hurriedly and weep bitterly, with Peter. Whoever goes to the theatre, goes to the school of shame.

Sixth, Scriptures say, “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thess. 5, 17. Praying, however, is altogether out of the question in the playhouse. True, they sometimes pray there, too, even a miserable prostitute and courtesan will often pray there with her whorish lips. It even happens that Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist are mocked on the stage. Why, in order to render his piece most interesting, the German poet Schiller, the greatest favorite especially with the youth, found himself induced to mimic the latter. Besides that, the name of God is taken in vain in the theatre, they swear frivolously, and curse by all that's holy. And, Christian reader, you will pay these cursing players for their cursing!? Whoever goes to the theatre, goes to the school of scoffers.

Seventh, Scriptures say, “Be not conformed to this world.”Rom. 12, 2. Theatrical plays are, however, most properly to be counted among the pleasures of the world. For the Church of the New Testament did not get the play from the Church of the Old Covenant, which did not know anything of it, but from heathendom. Whoever, therefore, goes to the theatre, goes to the school of the world, makes it his teacher, becomes a declared apostate, and above that, perhaps without wishing to do so, yea, protesting against such an imputation, thereby actually pronounce publicly, I will not belong to the Christians, but to the world; I do not wish to be a world-denying child of God, but a child of the world.

Eighth, Scriptures say, Sit not in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1, 1. But how may one attending the theatre deny his seating himself with the scornful? Where will they sit if they do not sit there? Hence it is out of question, Whoever goes to the theatre, does not merely seat himself aside, but even at the feet of scoffers.

Ninth, Scriptures say, ”Be not partaker of other men's sins.” 1 Tim. 5, 22. It is impossible, however, to go to the theatre without partaking of other men's sins, both of the sins of the players and of the audience, For what are you doing by going there? The fact of your appearance in the theatre calls upon the actor to sin, to do something on account of which he has ever been excommunicated from the true Christian church! The other godless attendants at the theatre, however who come for the purpose of catering to their flesh, you are confirming therein. And still you mean to say, I dare go to the theatre without committing a sin? O, may God keep you from this dangerous delusion! Your own sin draws you into the theatre, and fraught with many of other people's sins you go out again.

Tenth, we read in God's Word, “Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90, 12. Hence, according to Holy Writ, a pious Christian is forever to think of his death. But the actor is bent, above all, on causing people to forget, for some hours at least, that they must die once and appear at the judgment of God. Whoever, therefore, goes to the theatre goes to the school of atheists, whose principal motto is, Let us eat and drink and be merry, for to-marrow, may-haps, we shall be dead and death ends everything.

Now then, dear reader, I would ask you, What will you do? Will you side with Christ or with the world? Will you be an attendant at church or at the theatre? Perhaps you will say, I attend both. Let me, then, point out to you the word of the prophet Elijah, 1 Kings 18, 21: “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him!” Yea, let me draw your attention to the word spoken to us all in the Gospel, by the Lord Himself, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and the mammon.” Matth. 6, 24. You cannot serve Christ and the world. Do not, therefore, divide your heart, but give all your life and soul to Jesus. Do you still hesitate in accepting what Heaven offers you? O turn your eyes wholly to its everlasting treasures and glory. Whoever does not wholly give himself up to Jesus, must endure pain and anguish in this world, and his wages will be Death eternal. May the good God keep us from this for Jesus' sake and grant us admission to yon heavenly exhibition where, after having closed our eyes in death, we will see God face to face in everlasting joy and blessed light of heaven.

From The Lutheran Witness, October 21, 1888