Lesson four


In the early days of Christianity, people’s attitude towards leisure was largely influenced by their attitude towards creation and life. Some Christians saw leisure as good as in human life.

However, some Christians including clement of Alexandria and the Monks looked at the worldly pleasures as evil. This was because of the influence of the pagan philosophy where the world was thought to be evil.

Therefore, Christians had to make choices about how to spend their leisure time. The main leisure activities during this period included the following;

  • Christians enjoyed cruel entertainment like fighting between men and wild animals which had been starved and men and men. These activities were common in the Roman
  • A good number of Christians enjoyed drama during leisure time. Such plays were based on bible They were mainly acted around market squares of the towns.
  • Reciting stories was also an important way of spending leisure. These stories were about the pagan gods whom the Christians had
  • Christians enjoyed hymns during their free time Saint Ambrose, who was a bishop of Milan-Italy, was the one who composed these hymns.
  • Some Christians wrote good and interesting books during This was intended to make Christian literatures available for reading in any place and at any time.
  • The Christians also got involved in drawing pictures and making Among others, they drew and painted Jesus’ pictures as being as being a good shepherd and his mother Mary as being holy.
  • The Christians decorated churches during their free time. The churches were made beautiful using carvings in wood and stone that were brightly
  • The Christians used their free time by holding They for example, commemorated Saint’s day among others.
  • Some Christians carried out charitable work during leisure. They helped the disadvantaged such as widows, orphans and the poor by giving them basic needs in life like food and
  • Christians worshipped God during their free time. St Francis of Assisi was the one in charge of this important aspect of the church. He called oh his followers to worship God in the humblest way and
  • Prayer was also an important way of spending leisure. The apostles in particular took time off to pray to God through His son Jesus
  • Some Christians enjoyed the beauty of creation during their free For example, Saint Antony lived in a specific place because he loved its beauty.


In the early days of Christianity, the church had recognized the importance of leisure but encouraged her members to always make proper choices.

However, this kind of attitude changed at a later stage. The Protestant reformers led by Saint Augustine, who were later joined by some radical Catholics, felt that too much enjoyment was not good for the Christians.

Consequently, they formed themselves into a group called the Puritans and urged Christians to live a strict life without any pleasures. Because of this attitude, the following leisure activities were condemned;

  • Fights between men and men. These fights were organized and enjoyed by some kings and their royal families in the Roman The men who were either slaves or prisoners could fight to the point of death.
  • Fight between men and wild animals like lions, which had been starved until they were fierce. Shamelessly, the crowd could cheer on the winning animal even when the individual was
  • Fights between women who were Such fights caused bodily injuries and even claimed the lives of some.
  • The church reformers condemned the idol worship as being a form of leisure. This was because it had become a common practice for Christians to surround themselves with picture, stories and Christian heroes during their free time. This poised the danger of Christians backsliding to pagan
  • The church reformers disapproved plays and stories which were about pagan
  • The church reformers disapproved reading and listening to immoral Such literatures contained sexual issues, fights or violence and other forms of injustice.
  • The reformers disapproved drawing pictures and statues of pagan gods which had become common among Christians during their free
  • The church reformers disapproved participation in unhealthy and childish games. Such games, which included eating, laughing and shouting competitions, had nothing to do with personal and community
  • Some reformers disapproved any form of dancing and watching plays. They reasoned that such kind of entertainment was not good for the people who were committed and dedicated to the service pf
  • The reformers disapproved writing poems which encouraged and promoted acts of immorality.
  • The church reformers also disapproved crude and immoral games like public show of sexual play between men and women and
  • The puritans disapproved composing, listening and dancing worldly music. To them, such songs that neither praised nor worshiped God were unhealthy for Christians because they contradicted the gospel
  • The church condemned showing off or public display of material possession by wealthy people. Such possessions included fine clothes and jewels. This was considered pride, extravagancy and selfishness to the disadvantage of the
  • The Puritans disapproved drinking alcohol among Christians. The alcoholic drinks were seen to be too strong that could eventually carry the Christians away from their ideal
  • The missionaries who later came to Africa disapproved dances as being wrong. They looked at African cultures as pagan practices and wholly bad for Christians to adopt.
  • The Puritans disapproved the obscene jokes. This was because they did not portray the true characteristics of Christian life that required an individual to wholly

4.3  Revision Questions

Qn.1. Explain the leisure activities that Saint Augustine condemned.

Qn.2. What leisure activities did the Puritans disapprove in the history of the church? Qn.3. Explain the leisure activities the early church reformers stood against.

Qn.4. Why did the early church reformers disapprove the leisure activities of their time?

  • Loss of lives among
  • Bodily
  • Moral decay among
  • Christians were backsliding.
  • Set bad examples of living violently.
  • Some Christians failed to pay attention to God like the Monks who started concentrating on
  • Activities encouraged living luxurious life and extravagancy among
  • The activities brought shame on the body of