Wacky White Wensday #2: Theaters

Ellen White died in 1915, which is before movie theaters as we know them were a thing. Does that stop Adventists from prohibiting them? Well…. no. At least, not for a long time. I think mainstream Adventists no longer avoid movie theaters, but I was told by some older Adventists that for a while, theater going was “verboten,” and something only the “rebellious kids” did.

I was told that one of the reasons Adventists no longer speak out against theater going is because we developed the technology to see movies outside the theater. When you can watch movies on TV at home and avoid going out to the theater, well, the lines of demarcation just got blurred.

I have no idea why this would have been needed, since theaters as Ellen White knew them would have been vastly different from the way theaters have been for the last 60 years, but set that aside. Adventists still use these EGW quotes as reasons we shouldn’t go see movies.

I feel a need to add a disclaimer: This is no longer a mainstream Adventist thing. It used to be, but no longer is. (For the record, by the time I came along, only fringe Adventists abstained from theater going.)

Taken from the book Adventist Home, page 515-516

Few Popular Amusements Are Safe—Many of the amusements popular in the world today, even with those who claim to be Christians, tend to the same end as did those of the heathen. There are indeed few among them that Satan does not turn to account in destroying souls. Through the drama he has worked for ages to excite passion and glorify vice. The opera, with its fascinating display and bewildering music, the masquerade, the dance, the card table, Satan employs to break down the barriers of principle and open the door to sensual indulgence. In every gathering for pleasure where pride is fostered or appetite indulged, where one is led to forget God and lose sight of eternal interests, there Satan is binding his chains about the soul.

The true Christian will not desire to enter any place of amusement or engage in any diversion upon which he cannot ask the blessing of God. He will not be found at the theater, the billiard hall, or the bowling saloon. He will not unite with the gay waltzers or indulge in any other bewitching pleasure that will banish Christ from the mind.

To those who plead for these diversions we answer, We cannot indulge in them in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The blessing of God would not be invoked upon the hour spent at the theater or in the dance. No Christian would wish to meet death in such a place. No one would wish to be found there when Christ shall come.

The Theater the Hotbed of Immorality—Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater. Instead of being a school for morality and virtue, as is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments. Low songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and attitudes deprave the imagination and debase the morals. Every youth who habitually attends such exhibitions will be corrupted in principle. There is no influence in our land more powerful to poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, and to blunt the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence as the desire for intoxicating drink strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.

I had heard that Ellen White also said that your guardian angels can’t go into the theater with you, and have to wait outside. However, I can not find this quote. What I do find, however, is this:

Angels of God will preserve His people while they walk in the path of duty, but there is no assurance of such protection for those who deliberately venture upon Satan’s ground.

Testimonies for the Church volume 5 page 198

You are seeking your own pleasure. Listen to the vain, frivolous conversation; hear the laugh, the jesting, the joking. Is this imitating the pattern? Still listen—is Jesus mentioned? Is the truth the theme of conversation? Are the speakers glorying in the cross of Christ? It is this fashion, that bonnet, that dress, what that young man said, or that young lady said, or the amusements they are planning. What glee! Are angels attracted and pressing close around them to ward off the darkness which Satan is pressing upon and around them? Oh, no. See, they turn away in sorrow. I see tears upon the faces of these angels. Can it be that angels of God are made to weep? It is even so.

Testimonies for the church Volume 1 p. 505-506

So, it appears that there were a few statements Ellen White made that were possibly taken a little bit out of context and then mashed together.

Ellen White does speak out against theater going (she wasn’t the only person in her day and age who did, btw) and she does suggest angels can’t go with us to certain places, but she never actually said, “If you go into a theater, your guardian angel has to wait outside.”

So, I believe we can tentatively file that particular thing under “things Ellen White never said.”

There’s enough batshit crazy to focus on as it is.


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