Today’s Family: Choose Wholesome Recreation

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“Just as honest toil gives rest its sweetness, wholesome recreation is the friend and steadying companion of work,” says Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Like other prophets and apostles of our time, Elder Christofferson emphasizes the value of appropriate recreation. He says our Father in Heaven designed mortal life as a stewardship of time and choices requiring “nearly constant exertion.” Work enables and sustains life, brings a sense of self-worth, and consecrates a life to God’s purposes. However, wholesome recreation is important to create balance with a hard day’s work.

“Music, literature, art, dance, drama, athletics—all can provide entertainment to enrich one’s life and further consecrate it,” Elder Christofferson says. “At the same time, it hardly needs to be said that much of what passes for entertainment today is coarse, degrading, violent, mind-numbing, and time wasting. Ironically, it sometimes takes hard work to find wholesome leisure.”

Build Up Rather Than Tear Down

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches that leisure time should be filled with activities that uplift, inspire, and draw individuals closer to Heavenly Father. He notes and warns against the trend of setting aside dignifying entertainment and replacing it with demeaning and destructive activities.

“Remember that our Savior Jesus Christ always builds us up and never tears us down. We should apply the power of that example in the ways we use our time, including our recreation and our diversions,” Elder Oaks says. “Consider the themes of the books, magazines, movies, television shows, and music we in the world have made popular by our patronage. Do the things portrayed in our chosen entertainment build up or tear down the children of God?”

Because activities that build people up serve Heavenly Father’s cause, activities that tear people down serve Satan’s cause, Elder Oaks says.  Children of God should remember that with every choice—even in recreation—they support one cause or the other.

Engage in the Best Recreation

“Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information,” Elder Oaks says. “But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, ‘Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom’ (D&C 88:118; emphasis added).” Leisure time should be filled with the best activities rather than those that are merely good.

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, also gives guidelines to follow when filling recreational time: “Too often we use many hours for fun and pleasure, clothed in the euphemism ‘I’m recharging my batteries.’ Those hours could be spent reading and studying to gain knowledge, skills, and culture.”

Balance Is Crucial

Seeking out the best recreation can actually provide families with spiritual nourishment to overcome trials and resist temptation, says Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Recreation should be balanced with gospel learning. Family home evenings and family activities are two settings where children can be fortified.

“In a materialistic age, when recreation and convenience are the suggested priorities of our society, we might all well ask ourselves, ‘How well are we providing for the spiritual well-being and strengthening of our families?’” Elder Ballard says. “Are we clothing family members with ‘garments of salvation’ as anxiously as we provide clothing for their wardrobe? Is our diet of entertainment and recreation balanced with the food offered by Him who said, ‘Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely’ (Alma 5:34).”

Time Together

Elder Oaks, already quoted earlier, warns of overscheduling families in good recreational activities such as sports and other school and club activities. These activities should be carefully regulated, too, he says.

“Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children’s values on things of eternal worth,” Elder Oaks says. “Parents should teach gospel priorities through what they do with their children.”