Is watching football a sin?

I know there’s a whole community of football widows out there hoping I’ll give a definitive answer to this question. Not because I’m an expert, but simply to have someone confirm what they’ve always suspected. 

The hunting widows are out there too, queuing up for a verse of scripture or a Pauline passage that will settle the matter once and for all and rock their Grizzly Adams right out of his tree stand. 

But lest you think this is a male hobby rant, be warned that the process I’m about to walk you through isn’t gender specific. The diagnostic questions I pose can also apply to traditionally female activities like shopping, tennis, and even, *gasp,* mothering. Are you ready? 

Is _____(fill in the blank)________ a sin? 

The answer might be yes if any or all of these are true. Only we and the Holy Spirit can decide. If we evaluate the situation with honest hearts, I think we’ll have our answers. 

1. Do I think about _________ more than I think about God? 

“You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex.20:3 ). 

2. Do I invest more money, time, or energy in ___________ than I do in the kingdom? 

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). 

3. Does the pursuit of ___________ draw me closer to God or further away? 

“Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Luke 10:27). 

4. Does _________ routinely keep me away from church? 

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,” (Hebrews 10:25). 

I know many outdoorsmen and women who think spiritual thoughts while enjoying the beauty of God’s nature, but there are six other days in which to admire it. Whether your Lord’s Day is on Saturday, Sunday, or Tuesday, one day out of seven belongs to God and should be spent in community with other believers. 

5. Does ______________ cause me to hang out with people who lead me astray? 

“He who walks with the wise will be wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Hebrews 13:20).

I know you can make the case that you’re “building relationships for the purpose of witnessing,” but how effective is your witness if you’re standing there with a beer in your hand while skipping church? 

6. Does __________ cause me to sin? 

 “And if _______ causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life without _______, than to have ___________ and be thrown into hell” (Mark 9:45 my paraphrase). 

Do I yell at my wife if she walks in front of the TV during an important play or launch the remote through the screen when the quarterback throws an interception? Do I scream at my kids because they mess up the kitchen an hour before book club or regularly neglect my husband because I’m serving in the nursery, the PTO, and on two committees? 

7. Do I say no to most ministry-related opportunities because of my involvement in ___________? 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). 

It’s important to remember that God isn’t interested in how well we check off the boxes. We can do everything “right” and still be far from him. The Pharisees were great examples of this—they kept all the laws and never skipped church, yet still missed God when he sat among them. By these standards, their very religiosity was a sin. Imagine that. 

What God is interested in is where he fits in the lineup of our lives. If he’s anything but first, we have a problem. 

Second Corinthians 11:2-3 describes him as the original jealous lover. “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 

God wants us to love him first because loving him will ensure that everything else in our lives will fall into proper place. 

So is football (or hunting, shopping, book club, or my volunteer work) a sin? Only you and God can decide. 

I’d love to read your comments as long as you’re polite. If you're reading by email, click HERE.

Do you feel overloaded, overwhelmed, and overtired? I have the answer: the Women to Women Spring Conference at Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach. I'll be joining the lovely Janet Powers Roller and Cherie Nettles to present "Too Stressed to Be Blessed? Come Away!" on March 28-30. It's an amazingly affordable weekend filled with practical Bible teaching, powerful praise music, and timely devotions. And did I mention LOTS of free time? Grab a girlfriend and come along! I’d love to have you join me. You’ll find all the information here:

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  1. Thanks Lori..don't know how we found each other, but am glad we did..Great point..

    1. I hope you'll stop by often, Sally Ann. Welcome!

  2. Thanks, Lori! Questions 1 and 2 were especially helpful to me - I think we can get a quick answer on whether or not the hobbies/interests/indulgences in our lives are pleasing or disturbing to God just by asking ourselves those 2 questions. This was very helpful for me - thank you again!!!

  3. Thanks for this post. My husband and I don't watch football, but it is easy to make an idol out of anything. This was a good quiz to see where you are (or if you are) putting things above God. Thanks for writing!

    1. You're absolutely, right, Angela, anything can become an idol if we're not watchful and prayerful. Thanks for chiming in.

  4. Excellent post. I agree if anything is more important than HIM it is too important! Blessings!

  5. Thank you, you have only confirmed what the Holy Spirit was telling me in my heart and mind. You truly are a man of GOD

  6. I'd say that it's not a sin by the very nature of it, because people(players) have choices to whether they do it or not. They aren't slaves or captives as Roman gladiators. That's to the safety of the player. Boxing seems to be on the same line.

    BUT, you make some great points! I'd say that if football makes you sin or gives you the environment to sin easily, then it's better off to stop it. Think about Joseph and the Egyptian lord's wife and how he seemed to avoid like plague when she tried to get him to sin. We don't know if he would have been able to fight her advances off if chose to brush it off as nothing and just keep on as if business as usual, but he got away! That's what most today don't do! They watch shirtless men on TV; although, having another person in your heart like that is a sin and, although, such a scene on TV can make you want a man later. That's if you're a woman. How many women honestly immediately change the channel if they see a man like that on TV? What about kissing?

    1. Well said, Bamminer. There are many scenarios, not just football, that can cause us to sin if we're not watchful and prayerful. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit living inside of us will guide us if we listen. Thanks for chiming in.