The Bible’s no FUN!

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How much fun is the Bible? A study by Dennis Hinks using an electronic Bible program, which involved compiling the search results for the word “fun” in eleven different translations, found that it isn’t much fun at all. Of course, nobody’s really claiming that the Bible is fun, or should be fun. However – it’s somehow still interesting that such a large treatise, supposedly holding the answers to every important aspect of life, has nothing to say about fun. Are we really not supposed to have any?

The translations used, and the frequency that the word “fun” occurred, is shown in the following table:

Abbreviation Name of Translation Word Frequency
ESV English Standard Version 0
KJV King James Version 0
NAB New American Bible 0
NAS New American Standard Bible 0
NRS New Revised Standard Version 0
NIV New International Version 1
NJB New Jerusalem Bible several
GW God’s Word many
NCV New Century Version many
NLT NLT – New Living Translation many
MSG The Message (New Testament only) many

Note that the translations that have the greatest number of occurrences are those that translate concept-for-concept, rather than word-for-word. The more literal translations tend to use other words, such as: mocking, pleasure, enjoyment, etc.

The results also found that FUN is:

A. Often associated with sin and evil.

1. In reference to sinful conduct – hurting people or animals.

a. Injuring animals, for fun – Genesis 49:6. (NCV)

b. Ambushing innocent people, just for fun – Proverbs 1:11. (NCV, GW)

c. The soldiers gathered together “for some fun” (implied) – to mistreat Jesus – Matthew 27:27. (MSG)

2. In reference to sinful conduct – enjoying folly and stupidity (as opposed to wisdom and godliness).

a. People who think wrongdoing is fun (they are fools) – Proverbs 10:23. (NLT, MSG)

b. People who think stupidity is fun (they are senseless people) – Proverbs 15:21. (GW)

c. People who poke fun at [= scorn] wise words (they are fools) – Proverbs 23:9. (MSG)

d. People who listen to the Word of the Lord “for fun” (implied) – i.e., with no intention of doing what it says – Ezekiel 33:30. (NLT)

e. [Most of the 125 verses not examined (which focus on “mocking”) would fit into this category of “sin and evil.”]

3. In reference to the consequences of sinful conduct – “not fun” for the individual or for those around them.

a. Having a fool for a child is not fun – Proverbs 17:21. (MSG)

b. Being a staggering drunk (and all the related consequences) is not fun [= unwise] – Proverbs 20:1. (MSG – probably a poor translation of the passage)

B. As a lifestyle, it is evil.

1. It results in spiritual “fruitlessness” and eternal judgment.

a. “The seed that fell among the thorns” represents people who allow themselves to become preoccupied with fun (and various other things in life) – because of this, they are spiritually fruitless – Luke 8:14. (MSG)

b. For people who treat life as “fun and games,” the future (eternity) will be horrible for them – Luke 6:25. (MSG)

2. We must abandon such a lifestyle if we want to follow God.

a. If we want God’s grace (favor), we must quit the “fun and games” and humble ourselves in his presence – James 4:9. (MSG)

b. The prophet Jeremiah delighted more in God’s words, than the fun [= merriment] of revelers (equivalent to the modern concept of “partying,” the implication being that such a lifestyle is sinful) – Jeremiah 15:17. (NCV, GW)

Our take? All fun, all the time is silly. Although we belief life’s only point is experience and enjoyment, given that we have the opportunity to do great things, and that accomplishments certainly increase our happiness as well as increasing our ability to succeed even further, there are definitely things that are not fun, which we should do anyway. (Note that there is nothing we must do. However, to transcend from here to where we want to be, there are things that need doing, which we may not want to do.) Good things take time and effort, and we stand behind the value of well-place, smart and practically applied elbow-grease. That being said…

Fun is GREAT. And there are few people who would argue with us, Christian or otherwise. People do what is fun, what is enjoyable, what feels good to them. It’s as natural as breathing. Using the Bible as a guide for life is epically flawed if it has no better advice than ‘steer clear of fun, worship God instead.’