How to Settle the Theater Question
A lady came to me once and said, "Mr. Moody, I wish you would tell he how I can become a Christian." The tears were rolling down her cheeks, and she was in a very favorable mood. "But," she said, "I don't want to be one of your kind."
"Well," I asked, "have I got any peculiar kind? What is the matter with my Christianity?"
"Well," she said, "my father was a doctor, and had a large practice, and he used to get so tired that he used to take us to the theater. There was a large family of girls, and we had tickets for the theaters three or four times a week. I suppose we were there a food deal oftener than we were in church. I am married to a lawyer, and he has a large practice. He gets so tired that he takes us out to the theater," and she said, "I am far better acquainted with the theater and theater people than with the church and church people, and I don't want to give up the theater."
"Well," I said, "did you ever hear me say anything about theaters? There have been reporters here every day for all the different papers, and they are giving my sermons verbatim in one paper. Have you ever seen anything in the sermons against the theaters?"
She said, "No."
"Well," I said, "I have seen you in the audience every afternoon for several weeks, and have you heard me say anything against theaters?"
No, she hadn't.
"Well," I said, "what made you bring them up?"
"Why, I supposed you didn't believe in theaters."
"What made you think that?"
"Why," she said, "do you ever go?"
"Why don't you go?"
"Because I have got something better. I would sooner go out into the street and eat dirt than do some of the things I used to do before I became a Christian."
"Why!" she said; "I don't understand."
"Never mind," I said. "When Jesus Christ has the preeminence, you will understand it all. He didn't come down here and say we shouldn't go here and we shouldn't go there, and lay down a lot of rules, but He laid down great principles. Now, He says if you love Him you will take delight in pleasing Him." And I began to preach Christ to her. The tears started again. She said:
"I tell you, Mr. Moody, that sermon on the indwelling Christ yesterday afternoon just broke my heart. I admire Him, and I want to be a Christian, but I don't want to give up the theaters."
I said, "Please don't mention them again. I don't want to talk about theaters. I want to talk to you about Christ." So I took my Bible, and I read to her about Christ.
But she said again, "Mr. Moody, can I go to the theater if I become a Christian?"
"Yes," I said, "you can go to the theater just a much as you like if you are a real, true Christian, and can go with His blessing."
"Well," she said, "I am glad you are not so narrow-minded as some."
She felt quite relieved to think that she could go to the theaters and be a Christian. But I said:
"If you can to to the theater for the glory of God, keep on going; only be sure that you go for the glory of God. If you are a Christian you will be glad to do whatever will please Him."
I really think she became a Christian that day. The burden had gone, there was joy; but just as she was leaving me at the door she said:
"I am not going to give up the theater."
In a few days she came back to me and said: "Mr. Moody, I understand all about that theater business now. I went the other night. There was a large party at our house, and my husband wanted us to go, and we went; but when the curtain lifted everything looked so different. I said to my husband, 'This is no place for me; this is horrible. I am not going to stay here, I am going home.' He said, 'Don't make a fool of yourself. Every one has heard that you have been converted in the Moody meetings, and if you go out it will be all through fashionable society. I beg of you don't make a fool of yourself by getting up and going out.' But I said, ' I have been making a fool of myself all of my life.' "
Now the theater hadn't changed, but she had got something better, and she was going to overcome the world. "They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." When Christ has the first place in your heart you are going to get victory. Just do whatever you know will please Him. The treat objection I have to these things is that they get the mastery, and become a hindrance to spiritual growth.