From the moment we awake to a noisy alarm clock, our lives are too often filled with constant noise throughout the day. What will this temptation be like for our children? If we do not teach them the value of quiet prayer and solitude, who will? Would it not be better to tuck our children into bed after a few moments of quiet prayer than to let them fall asleep under the glow of an impersonal television set at the foot of their bed?

Avoiding Time Wasters 

Responsibly structuring our free time means we will avoid time wasters. Some Christians have decided to toss out the TV altogether, and they will tell you afterwards how wonderful it has been for their family. I applaud Christians who decide to take this radical step of cutting television out of their lives.

Some might not go so far as to throw out the TV, but certainly we should all consider "fasting" from television for a month or two, preferably before Christmas or Easter. Other Christians intentionally limit the amount of time they spend in front of the television.

Just recently, my wife and I decided to return the cable box to the cable company. We didn't watch enough TV to merit the monthly fee, and we were sickened by the filth coming over the airwaves, even on the so-called "Family Plan." When I called the cable company, the man on the telephone tried to haggle with me so I could get more channels for better prices. When he realized I was serious about cutting off the cable, he told me that I would receive a one-time penalty fee on my account. I was getting my hand slapped for downgrading? When I returned the cable box to the company, I noticed the clerk's eyes got big, and she asked, "What's wrong?" The more people I talked to, the more I realized that the simple act of cutting the cable cord was subversive of leisure. The company seemed surprised that we could survive without cable!

Intentionality 

We still have a television in our home, but my wife and I practice "intentional TV watching." Every now and then, we will purchase a DVD of a classic television show we enjoy, and over time, we will watch the episodes together. Intentional TV watching does away with channel surfing, not to mention the countless advertisements.

Making intentional choices about how much time to spend on entertainment should also be applied to video games. I am deeply grateful to my parents for limiting my access to computer games when I was growing up. My brothers and sister and I read books, wrote stories, made music, recorded shows on tape, played in the backyard, and even made our own movies! I am thankful that my parents did not give in to our persistent pleas for the newest video game.

But my parents also showed wisdom by not legalistically condemning all electronic entertainment. On rainy days, they would pull the Nintendo down from the closet shelf, dust it off, and let us play our hearts out. We still had fun playing video games, but my parents were wise enough to put the Nintendo back up when the sun returned. Even today, I still enjoy playing video games occasionally. Sometimes, after I finish a difficult semester of schoolwork, I will bring home some games to play with my little boy. We have a great time for a couple of days, but then we put the games away and move on to other things.

Leisure in its rightful place is terrific. Enjoying good, wholesome entertainment can be glorifying to God. But we must not underestimate the power of video games or television to affect how we view the world. Entertainment can and should be enjoyed, but it must never dominate our lives. Christians subvert leisure by limiting the time we spend on these activities. We structure our time in such a way that it is obvious to the world that we have different priorities.

Focusing Our Leisure Time on People Instead of Things