Compromise of faith
Television shows cause us to compromise the faith. As we grow older, it is normal to believe we are “mature” and can watch higher rated films. The truth is the opposite, as we grow more mature, God’s standard he expects from us increases correspondingly. It is common sense that we should be holding ourselves to a higher standard with greater age and maturity, rather than lowering our standards. This is the opposite of the modern day television “ratings” however, where the most debauched shows are rated “M” for “mature audiences.” This is a subtle challenge to our pride, implying immaturity or weakness if you do not wish to watch this category. Ever since youth, people will brag about which violent movie or horror show they were bold enough to watch. Instead, it is important to realize our inner spirit is sensitive. We should be trying to protect our spirit just as if it were a child....
We gradually pick up on the terrible social and family attitudes by being exposed to it so much. Becoming desensitized to filth like the frog that is slowly heated in the water, the frog gradually desensitizes to the heat and does not even feel the need to jump out of the pan when the boiling point is reached. One does not want to cut off a show that they have already invested many episodes in, once it begins to show terrible values and perversion.
Early Safeguard: “The Hays Code”
Early on the danger of the television was obvious. It showed amazing success when used in propaganda by both allied and axis powers during the second world war. It was generally believed that a guard of some sort would be necessary, a restraint on television, to prevent the nation from losing its moral foundation. The idea was, since television had been proven to have such a powerful ability to conform the mind in wartime propaganda, the same effects would work powerfully to corrupt the values of the general population.
The “Hays code” was established as this guard. It banned sex related talk, successful revenge in the plot, crime succeeding, or dirty language. The was encoded as law in the United States until 1967, and all filmmakers were required to conform to it when designing films.
What we can take away from this, is that a “normal” show today would have been considered pornographic when television was first invented. Perhaps the Hays code may have been extreme, but what we can learn from it is that our standards have been slipping to an unreal amount. We have lost the concern the original pioneers of television had for the possibility of mass shifting of cultural values by this mode of entertainment. It is obvious how television empowers lust. In addition, many young women are pressured to conform to a unrealistic body image and are shown as objects of lust. Men also gain unrealistic sexualized expectations for what a woman should have to look like to be considered beautiful.
Conformed to whose image?
The problem with television goes beyond simply the “bad” or “perverted” shows and scenes. Even without counting those, there is an overall “worldliness” pervasive throughout tv programming. This is most clear in regards to family values. Father’s are consistently portrayed to be passive and stupid, not at all interested in decision making, and leaving the wife to take the leadership role in the house. Children are always shown as having no respect to elders. Teenagers are always shown to be rebellious, as if it is a ‘given’ that they have to rebel… When we soak ourselves in the viewing of these attitudes, behaviours, and mindsets day in a day out for years and years, we find that we have as Christians, become unquestionable conformed to the image of the world, and do not see Christ reflected through us.
Matthew 5:29-30, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
We can think of our television as an “eye” in the sense that it is the gateway of light and of our vision. “Light” has the power to transform what it contacts. Think of a laser etching stonework. Spiritually we are transformed into what we behold….
2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
We can be transformed into God’s image by beholding the Word and through worship. On the other hand, we are conformed to the world’s image by beholding the worldly attitudes, mindsets, and behaviours which are displayed on television. It is a battle of the Word vs. the World for whose image we will become. We cannot keep sitting on the fence of compromise, trying to serve both Christ and ‘self’ simultaneously. A sacrifice must be made.
As a youngster I used to love the sport of bowling…. My bowling coach used to always say one thing: “keep your eye on the middle arrow.” By keeping one’s gaze on the middle arrow of the bowling lane, it would subconsciously affect the way a person releases the ball, so that it was more likely to land on top of that arrow and hit the middle section of bowling pins. The idea being that what we behold becomes our destination and aim. When training a new driver, they are taught not to keep looking off the side of the road in fear or at the lines at the edge…. rather, they are instructed to “keep your gaze where you intend to drive toward.” What we look at and what we behold becomes our destination. Spending so much time with our gaze toward the television will cause us to descend to its moral and spiritual level, and our behaviour will begin to conform to it. It will become our destination.
This principle has been at the core of many powerful ministers of God.
Recently I was reading a book called “Rees Howells: Intercessor” about a powerful man of God in the early half of the 20th century. It mentions his lack of participation in worldly amusements:
“Even the normal pleasures of the world had no attraction for him. He would walk miles to hear someone preach and bring him “under the influence of God,” but he “wouldn’t cross the road to hear a concert.” Only once did he even attend a football match. As the crowd were “shouting and bawling” around him, he felt it was not the place for him, and vowed that, when he got his feet out of it, he would never go to such a place again. He never did.”
These people understood that to operate in the power of God, it is necessary to take care in the type of amusement that is allowed in one’s life. What we spend time looking at, we become conformed to in our nature.
Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Ephesians 5:11-12 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”
1 John 2:15-16, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
Some will say that television can be “either a force for great good or for great evil.” I beg to disagree. It is a stretch to find even minor good from this technology. There is potential for mass evil however. It is proposed that Christian TV channels can be a great source of evangelism and preaching. This is dubious. Most people I have talked to, are turned off from TV evangelists and get a worse view of our faith. TV-evangelists claim to had led millions to Christ. It is equally true, however, that they have turned off millions. These people tend to preach a rose-colored-glasses get-rich-quick gospel of “how to get blessed” “God’s principles to help you become wealthy” “God is going to come through for you.” They rarely preach uncomfortable messages on repentance from sin and from what is displeasing to God. It is a human-centric soothsaying for itching ears, not the real God-centered anointed preaching that feeds a person’s spirit.
Christian TV channels tend to worship the nation of Israel and the Jews. An unreal amount of programming time is spent on this. It is almost as if these channels are catered to the religion of Judaism. Christian TV preachers also always give a blank cheque of unquestioning support to the Republican Party, mainly because of their mutual political views regarding abortion and homosexual marriage. They fail to hold the republican’s feet to the fire however, or to preach against the greed, elitism, lack of concern for the poor and general stubborn mindset, the sins at the core of that party and its members. The republicans will never change if they know they will always get a blank cheque of support from Christians no matter what….
The TV host always agrees with guest on Christian channels. You will never see a disagreement or dispute on these channels. They preplan everything where the host and guest take turns praising each other and exchanging positive compliments. It is painful to try to watch this for more than a few minutes…. Watching a secular interview is always more satisfying, where the host will actually challenge the guest with some hard or critical questions, questions of substance. Overall, watching Christian television is no better than secular programming, it is best to unsubscribe from cable altogether. Just like (1 Samual 15) Saul tried to spare king Agag and his favorites of the spoils of war, we all have a few favorite channels we would like to spare. In the end, it is better to get rid of the wasteful expense of cable entirely rather than let a few favorite channels hold you back.
In times of old when night fell and man was no longer able to perform work in the darkness, there was a certain amount of leisure time even in the most hardworking societies. The time of peace in the evening could be spent daydreaming, meditating, thinking, and wondering about the true questions in the universe. There is a certain beauty in “doing nothing” because we are actually doing something when spending time apart from the stress and distraction of our world.
In place of this, with our modern invention of artificial lighting, we always feel pressured to do something. We work late into the night, and then entertain ourselves with the television. In place of communion with our own thought, with God’s thoughts, and conversation with others around us, we have replaced these by our colorful and flashy box of entertainment. There is always a movie to watch, especially with streaming services now. We always have something good we want to see at the click of a button. This has removed the time for one’s thoughts with one’s own self. We don’t step out of our trap in the cycle of life long enough to wonder why we do the things we do, why we spend time on the activities we do. We are like the biblical Martha who was so focused on all the things we have to distract us, she did not see the importance of stepping away and spending time with the One of true value.
[<< Part 2] [Part 4 >>]