It is one of the strange contradictions of our time that we claim to never have been so busy and yet at the same time we spend a substantial amount of out time looking at a box parked in the corner of our living rooms. And now with satellite, cable and “freeview” we have a simply phenomenal range of entertainment at our disposal. What are we as Christians to make of this situation? How are we to handle TV?
The first thing we establish is that certain material broadcast on TV is not fit for our consumption. Paul writing to the Philippians says whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Phil 4:8). Certain material broadcast on television immediately falls foul of this injunction and therefore we should have nothing to do with it. The pleasures of sin are for a season. We should never allow the deceptive gain of seasonal pleasures to replace the greater gain of the prospering of our souls.
At the other end of the spectrum there are programs which are wholesome. They do fall into the Phil 4:8 categorization and therefore they can be watched by a believer with a pure conscience. Certain educational and musical programs would fall to be examples. Those programs which display the beauties of God’s creation would also be cases in point. However, let us never forget that even the best examples of this type of program can be polluted by the all pervasive presentation of the doctrines of atheistic evolutionary thinking.
At one point in His ministry the LORD Jesus said to his disciples “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. There are times that we need to rest. The television can be a means of us finding healthy relaxation whether that be through a film, sport or whatever. Accordingly the TV can be a means of refreshing us.
The lost art of conversation.
One impact upon society of the all-prevailing dominance of the TV medium is that people can very soon lose the ability to interact healthily with one another. This begins at an early age with children not learning to play together because they spend their time glued in front of “the box.” Television is a very passive medium. You sit there and it happens to you. Our forebears had to be proactive in using their time. Families in particular must make sure that there is time for healthy interaction between members of the family; otherwise the family may fall apart under the insidious influence of the TV.
The way that material is presented on TV can make us lose the gravitas of the things that really matter. So we may be watching the news and see an appalling scene of suffering, then within a few seconds we are watching an advert for some skin lotion or perfume. One is desperately serious; the other is trivial. But because they are placed side by side the serious issues can be trivialized and we lose a sense of proportion on the bis issues of life. Our Saviour was a sensitive man and we are called to walk in His steps (see 1 Pet. 2:21). Let us seek to fight against compassion fatigue. TV can be an influence which reduces our sensitivity.
The LORD calls us to be redeeming the time, because the days are evil time (Eph. 5:16).The idea is that time is there for us and we need to buy it back in order to maximize its benefit to ourselves and more particularly for the LORD Himself. However, we so easily waste time and one particular means of doing this is by indiscriminately watching television without thinking of the consequences. So soon an hour or two have been frittered away and that time will never be had again. So let us use our time wisely so that it is invested in our LORD’S cause.
The lost art of thinking
James Montgomery Boice has said “the chief problem with television is that, for those who watch it consistently, it undermines and eventually destroys the ability to think. This is because it communicates primarily by images, not by words, and words are necessary to make logical connections and make judgments as to what is right and what is wrong. An image cannot be true or false. Images just are. Although images can tell a story or establish a mood they cannot make an argument.” We have already noticed from Phil. 4:8 that God is interested in our minds. We need to be continually developing our thought life. Television can seriously damage our ability to think and we need to beware!
We jokingly refer to people who are “tele-addicts.” However, to be addicted to television is no laughing matter. It is a serious ailment. “Soaps” in particular are designed to suck people in so that have to watch episode after episode. Two particular dangers of being trapped in this way are that we waste time and our lifestyle comes to be modeled not around biblical truth, but around the key figures on TV. Such developments are seriously harmful to our spiritual health and we need to take drastic action. Our LORD uses strong language in Mark 9:43-48 when He says “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched – where `Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’ And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched – where `Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’ And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire – where `Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’” It may be for us that we have to cut off (throw away) our TVs so that we are not spiritually harmed by the box (or big screen) in the corner of the room.
(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of July 2005)