Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 26, 1959

Fairs And Discernment

Victor H. Sellers, Lewisville, Texas

With the coming and going of fairs and carnivals, certain thoughts are brought to mind, thoughts that should be considered by all who "would live godly in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:12). The atmosphere of a fair or a carnival — any kind, large or small — is always electrifying and magnetic, attracting people of all ages and walks of life. The music of the "merry-go-round" and the cry of the "barker", mingled with human laughter, make up the voice of the fair or carnival. The very nature of such a place, however, will tax the discriminating powers of all who profess to be Christians.

In Hebrews 5:14, Christians are admonished to "discern good and evil." If there was ever a time when this had to be done, it would be at a fair or a carnival. Without belaboring the facts, let us examine the subject of discrimination in relationship to a fair — any fair.

First of all, a Christian must be discriminate in the spending of money. This can only be done by giving serious consideration to his income and committments for the necessities of life. How much can he afford to spend, if at all? It is just as sinful to "misspend" money for innocent recreation as it is to spend it for that which is wrong in and of itself.

Second, one must be discriminating in what he looks at. At most fairs there is always the beautiful and wholesome things to feast one's eyes upon, plus that which is ugly and immoral. And one usually does not have to pay to see either — unless it be the price of one's soul.

Third, one has to be careful lest he find himself contributing to an organization or cause that he cannot endorse as a Christian. Usually there are booths at a fair where the public can buy something of value, but the proceeds from such sales go to support the organization that has charge of the booth. It may be a religious or non-religious organization whose policies and practices may be in opposition to, or out of harmony with the religion of Christ. Christians must be able to see the difference between helping an individual make a living by buying something from him that is not wrong in and of itself, and helping an organization carry on a work that is either in opposition to or out of harmony with one's own convictions — those based upon the Bible.

Fourth, at most fairs one is confronted with all kinds of "games of chance." One is constantly being asked to put up a certain amount of money in the hope that he will "win" something of greater value. It may be only a penny, nickle, or a dime. A careful examination of the "odds" will reveal the "chance" that one has of winning. The odds always favor the "house" or the organization selling the chances. Brethren, this is gambling. If it is right for a Christian (it is not right for any one) to gamble with a penny, nickle, or dime, it is right for still another Christian to gamble with a hundred or thousand dollar bill. Gambling is wrong and sinful regardless of the amount of money involved.

These four areas are but a few of the ones where a Christian will be called upon to use his powers of discrimination — discrimination as a spectator or as an operator of one of the concessions. In some cases the Christian may find the fair or carnival such a cesspool of sin and corruption — a place where there would be no room for discriminatory behavior — that he would be compelled to stay away entirely.

A fair, large or small, can be a place of community pride and culture, or it can be a place of disgrace and vulgarity, and only proper discernment will make the difference — discernment on the part of those who run the fair and on the part of those who patronize it.