"Ik haat de kring van slechte mensen, met wettelozen wil ik niet aan tafel." Ps. 26:5

"Laat uw geest daarom voortdurend paraat zijn, wees waakzaam en vestig al uw hoop op de genade die u ontvangen zult wanneer Jezus Christus zich openbaart. Wees als gehoorzame kinderen en geef niet opnieuw toe aan de begeerten waardoor u vroeger, toen u nog onwetend was, werd beheerst, maar leid een leven dat in alle opzichten heilig is, zoals hij die u geroepen heeft heilig is." 1 Pet. 1:13-15

"Zij vinden het vreemd dat u niet langer meedoet aan hun liederlijke uitspattingen en ze spreken daarom kwaad over u. Maar ze zullen zich daarvoor moeten verantwoorden tegenover hem die zich gereedhoudt om recht te spreken over levenden en doden." 1 Pet. 4:4,5


References below to the “circus” refer to the chariot races, not to what is known as a circus today.

[WRITTEN TO PAGANS:] They utter ribaldry in pretentious tones, and they act out indecent movements. Your daughters and your sons watch them giving lessons in adultery on the stage. . . . Admirable, too, are your lying poets, who beguile their listeners from the truth through their fictions! . . . And the boxers meet in single combat, for no reason whatever. . . . Are such exhibitions to your credit? He who is chief among you collects a legion of bloodstained murderers [i.e., gladiators], engaging to maintain them. . . . And he who misses the murderous exhibition is grieved, for he was not doomed to be a spectator of wicked, impious, and abominable deeds! Tatian (c. 160, E), 2.75.

Neither may we watch the other spectacles [i.e., the theaters], lest our eyes and ears be defiled by participating in the utterances that are sung there. For if one should speak of cannibalism, in these spectacles the children of Thyestes and Tereus are eaten. And as for adultery, both in the case of men and of gods, whom they celebrate in elegant language for honors and prizes, this is made the subject of their dramas.
Theophilus (c. 180, E), 2.115.

The Instructor will not, then, bring us to public spectacles. Not inappropriately, one might call the racecourse and the theater “the seat of plagues.” . . . Let spectacles, therefore, and plays that are full of indecent language and abundant gossip, be forbidden. For what base action is there that is not exhibited in the theaters? Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.289, 290.

We renounce all your spectacles. . . . Among us nothing is ever said, seen, or heard that has anything in common with the madness of the circus, the immodesty of the theater, the atrocities of the arena, or the useless exercise of the wrestling ground. Why do you take offense at us because we differ from you in regard to your pleasures? Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.46.

Why may not those who go into the temptations of the show become accessible also to evil spirits? We have the case of the woman—the Lord Himself is witness—who went to the theatre, and came back possessed. In the outcasting, accordingly, when the unclean creature [the demon] was upbraided with having dared to attack a believer, he firmly replied, “And in truth I did it most righteously, for I found her in my domain.” Tertullian (c. 197, W), 4.90

We do not go to your spectacles. As for the merchandise that is sold there, if I need them, I will obtain them more readily at their proper places. Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.49.

Everyone [i.e., among the pagans] is ready with the argument that all things, as we teach, were created by God and given to man for his use. Therefore, they must be good, since they all come from so good a source. [They say] that among them are found the various constituent elements of the public shows—such as the horse, the lion, bodily strength, and musical voice. . . . How skillful a pleader seems human wisdom to herself, especially if she has the fear of losing any of her delights! Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.79, 80.

Fortified by this knowledge against pagan views, let us turn instead to the unworthy reasonings of our own people. Now, the faith of some is either too simple or too scrupulous. For it demands direct authority from Scripture for giving up the shows. They say the issue is an uncertain one, for such abstinence is not clearly and in [plain] words imposed upon God’s servants. Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.80.

It will be made clear that the entire apparatus of the shows is based upon idolatry. Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.81.

See, Christian, how many impure names have taken possession of the circus! You have nothing to do with a sacred place that is inhabited by such multitudes of diabolic spirits. Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.83.

Now let me address the kind of performances peculiar to the circus exhibitions. In former days, equestrianism was practiced in a simple way on horseback. Certainly, its ordinary use had nothing sinful in it. But when it was dragged into the games, it passed from the service of God into the employment of demons. Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.83.

We will now direct our discourse from there to the theater, beginning with the place of exhibition. At first, the theater was actually a temple of Venus. And, to speak briefly, it was because of this that stage performances were allowed to escape censure. That is how they got a foothold in the world. For oftentimes the censors, in the interests of morality, put down the rising theaters. Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.84.

The father who carefully protects and guards his virgin daughter’s ears from every polluting word, takes her to the theater himself—exposing her to all its vile words and attitudes. Again, in the streets, a man will either apprehend or scold a brawling fighter. However, in the arena, the same man gives complete encouragement to combats of a much more serious kind. Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.88.

[SPEAKING TO PAGANS:] We are evaluated by our character and our modesty. Therefore, for good reason, we abstain from evil pleasures, and from your pomps and exhibitions. We know the origin in connection with religious things, and we condemn their mischievous enticements. For in the chariot games, who does not shudder at the madness of the people brawling among themselves? Who does not wince at the teaching of murder in the gladiatorial games? In the drama games, the madness is not less. Rather, the debauchery is more prolonged. For now a mime either expounds or acts out adulteries. . . . The same actor provokes your tears with pretended sufferings, with vain gestures and expressions.
Mark Minucius Felix (c. 200, W), 4.196.

You are going to vain shows with the crowd of the evil one, where Satan is at work in the circus with din. You persuade yourself that everything that pleases you is lawful. You are the offspring of the highest; yet, you mingle with the sons of the devil! . . . Love not the world, nor the things in it! Commodianus (c. 240, W), 4.214.

Abstain from all pagan books. For what have you to do with such alien discourses, laws, or false prophets? For these subvert the faith of the unstable. Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c. 390, E), 7.393.

Avoid indecent shows. I mean the theaters and the ceremonies of the pagans. Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c. 390, E), 7.424.

A Christian who is faithful should neither repeat a pagan hymn nor sing an obscene song.
Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c. 390, E), 7.442

© OTR 2023