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Featured Should Christians Watch TV?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Mark Corbett, May 26, 2017.

  1. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    [​IMG]


    “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless” (Psalm 101:3a ESV)

    Should Christians watch R rated moves or MA rated TV? How much TV should we watch? What should Christians look at on our computers, smart phones, and TVs?

    My Testimony Regarding Watching TV

    As a young married couple we owned a small TV set. This was a quarter century ago. Although the content on TV was nowhere near as graphic as it is now, as a young man I still found that the pervasive sexy images which filled television had a bad effect on my thought life. So I asked my wonderful wife if it would be ok with her if we threw our TV away. She graciously agreed to this. I was young and enthusiastic. I didn’t want our TV to cause anyone else to stumble. So I opened up the back, cut a key wire, and then threw our TV in the garbage can. We have not owned a television since that day.

    Honestly, throwing away our TV was one of the best decisions I have made in life. It was around that same time that the Lord called us to go overseas to share the gospel among unreached people groups. We never regretted not having a TV. Our daughter, Joy, never missed not having TV. We did carefully choose and watch children’s videos with her on our computer. Not having TV was good for her and good for us.

    TV eventually crept back into my life. It was probably about fifteen years after we threw away our TV set. We began to rent TV shows on something called VCDs (an old version of DVDs which were popular for a time in Indonesia). We never watched anything R rated. But we started to watch more often, and to be honest, the content was not spiritually healthy. Then we moved back to the US in 2010 and discovered that our internet now had enough bandwidth to watch TV shows on our computers. We chose what we watched and stayed away from MA content. Eventually, I was probably watching 10 to 12 hours of TV content a week. I knew in my heart that watching TV was not helping me spiritually.

    Several times I tried to “cut back”. But it didn’t stick. Several months ago, I decided to “go cold turkey”. I’m glad I did! Since then I have felt more spiritual energy, and have seen the Lord open some doors for new ministry opportunities. I pray that I will not backslide!

    I am not committed to never watching any TV or movies in any setting. If I’m visiting with someone, I feel free to watch some TV with them if they have it on. Also, I still occasionally rent movies on DVD to watch with Hope. But honestly, I am thankful that God led me to stop watching TV again.

    Do I Think All Christians Should Stop Watching All, or Almost All, TV?

    No, not necessarily. I think that each believer should seek God’s will based on Biblical principles, honest evaluation of how TV effects their thought life, and their home situation. While this is an area where different families may make different decisions, my feeling is that most Christians would experience significant spiritual blessing if they watched less TV.

    Here are some reasons to consider watching less TV:

    1. What you watch DOES influence how you think and what you desire. Why do you think companies spend billions of dollar on advertising?

    2. TV is full of bad examples. I liked police shows and actions shows and superhero shows. But one thing I noticed is that even the good guys were not good examples. Sure, they were brave and generally good at outshooting or out-kickboxing the bad guys. But in their private lives they were not examples that I would want Joy to follow. They drank alcohol, often to the point of being drunk, to celebrate victories and to deal with frustrations. They slept around. In real life those actions bring painful consequences.

    3. Then there is the sexual content. TV is full of immodestly dressed women (and men, too). Even in “PG” rated material, actresses are often shown to be naked, or partly naked, from behind. These actresses are paid to take off their clothes in these scenes, and indirectly we support this by watching the advertisements during these shows. It is an indirect form of prostitution. That may sound harsh, but it is true. And seeing this content causes many people to lust, which is a form of adultery (see Matthew 5:28). In addition, TV promotes many types of sexual immorality.

    4. TV massively promotes materialism and greed, which is one of the major idols in American culture.

    5. Most TV shows are godless. I don’t mean merely that the content is evil (although, sometimes, it is). I mean that they almost totally leave God out of everything. A serious Christian character is extremely rare. If Christians are shown at all, they are often put in a bad light. Even thinking about God during dangerous situations, when most people do think about God and pray, is rare on TV. God is rarely mentioned in the news or in sports or anywhere. Godless. TV trains us to think about the world and life in godless ways.

    6. TV’s graphic images tend to capture our imaginations and draw our thoughts away from God.

    7. Even the news is problematic. Watching the news causes us to focus too much on politics and world events. We usually can do very little to change those things. TV distracts us from serving our neighbors and serving in our local churches and other ministries where our small efforts can actually make a big difference in people’s lives.

    This list is not complete. I’m sure you could think of some more bad things about TV. Is there anything good about TV? Sure, a tiny bit here and there. But would you go to a restaurant where most of the time they served you rotten food and often had bugs and dog poop mixed into your meal just because every now and then you found a bite of something that was actually good and healthy on your plate?

    Practical Suggestions

    I want to close with some practical suggestions.

    If you decide to cut back on TV or even go cold turkey, think about positive things you can do in place of TV. Many people watch TV when they are tired. It’s legitimate to have some rest time. Choose something good for your spirit that is relaxing for you and invest in it. Buy some of your favorite style of Christian music or order some good Christian books to read. I am not suggesting that you should try to replace TV with more work when you are already exhausted. Find ways to rest in God and rest with God, but never rest from God. While we shouldn’t usually try to replace watching TV with more work, for some reason that I can’t clearly explain, I have felt like I have more energy since I stopped watching TV again.

    For me, going “cold turkey” worked. But the Lord might work in you differently. Here are a list of specific actions the Spirit might lead you to take after reading this (I stopped and prayed for you, if no one actually takes any of these actions then this post is pretty much a waste of my time and yours):

    1. Some who are reading this may be watching pornography on your TV and/or computer. With God’s help and grace, stop! You might be able to stop on your own with God’s help. If you try to stop and can’t, get help from other Christians. Do whatever it takes to stop. Act like your spiritual and emotional health depend on it, because they do.

    2. Some of you need to stop watching MA and R rated content. With very rare exceptions (The Passion of the Christ and Hacksaw Ridge, for example) MA and R rated material is damaging to your soul and mind. Often, it is a “mild” (by the world’s standards) form of pornography.

    3. Perhaps you need to reduce how many hours you watch TV.

    4. The Holy Spirit is likely going to cause some of you to think of a specific show you should stop watching. Listen to and obey the Spirit’s guidance.

    5. Perhaps a few of you will be called to go “cold turkey”, like me. Be encouraged! Getting rid of TV is a lot easier than plucking out your eye!

    [​IMG]


    May God strengthen, bless, and guide you!

    This is a lightly edited version of a post which originally appeared on my blog.
     
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  2. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    If one has been persuaded/convicted to not have it, do that, but I would choose to watch with discernment!
     
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  3. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    No problem! My article certainly supports the "watch with discernment" option. In fact, I still do that with DVDs we sometimes watch. Still, I think that many Christians, probably most, would benefit by watching a lot less TV. Grace and Peace, Mark
     
  4. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Amen to that!
     
  5. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    What would you recommend to a new Christian who sincerely asked your advice about what to watch and not watch?
     
  6. exscentric

    exscentric Well-Known Member
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    Knew of a church where the pastor preached against tv and many people stopped watching - they sold their tvs on the church bulletin board :)
     
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  7. TCassidy

    TCassidy Late-Administator Emeritus
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    I have a pastor friend who preached against TV watching. He made a bid deal of throwing his in the dumpster one Sunday.

    Whenever there was something he wanted to watch he went over to his mother's house and watched it on her TV. :D:D:D
     
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  8. TCassidy

    TCassidy Late-Administator Emeritus
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    I preach the word and let the Holy Spirit be the Holy Spirit.
     
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  9. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    So, if a new Christian sincerely asked your advice about what was ok to watch and what not, you would answer, "I preach the word and let the Holy Spirit be the Holy Spirit"?
    That's a little confusing to me, and probably would be to the new Christian.
     
  10. TCassidy

    TCassidy Late-Administator Emeritus
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    One of the most important things a pastor can learn is that God is God and he is not.

    I can find the admonition to "preach the word." I can't find "give biased advice on what to watch on TV."
     
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  11. HeDied4U

    HeDied4U Well-Known Member
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    Heard a sermon a few years back where the pastor was preaching on the evils of "hellavision," as he called it. From the way it sounded, he made a big spectacle of smashing a TV with a baseball bat. Scared a baby in the congregation nearly half to death, as he was screaming and crying so much afterwards.

    To my way of thinking, if you want to preach on the "evils" of TV, go for it, but leave the theatrics at home.
     
  12. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    I agree with both parts of what you said:

    1. "if you want to preach on the 'evils' of TV", go for it
    Of course, it is not merely a matter of what we want. If watching TV in some cases is having a harmful effect on people, than it is right and good to preach about this.

    2. "leave the theatrics at home"
    The example you give sounds like an example of how NOT to address this topic. Of course, just because that pastor preached on TV in a way that may have done more harm than good, doesn't mean we can't preach and teach on this topic in a more helpful way.
     
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  13. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    Yes, it is important for all pastors, and for that matter for every human being, to understand that there is a God and it's not me. And that means we are not free to make up rules for other people and treat these rules as if they came from God.

    I also resonate with your Biblical passion to "preach the word". And like you, I believe the Holy Spirit applies the God's Word to specific situations in people's lives.

    But I honestly do not understand your concern about a pastor giving some advice on what to watch on TV. Yes, it is possible to give such advice in way that is harmful. But that doesn't mean it is impossible to give advice in a way that is helpful.

    In general, isn't it right to help other Christians apply the teachings of Scripture to specific situations in their lives today? For example, isn't it right to warn our brothers and sisters in Christ of the dangers of pornography and to explain how even though the Bible does not explicitly mention pornography, based on Bible teaching no Christian should watch it? How is it different if a pastor does the same thing and helps other Christians understand how Bible teachings apply to watching sexually explicit R rated and MA rated material? We may legitimately disagree on specific details, but why would giving such advice in general be wrong?

    I agree that the Holy Spirit guides each believer, but doesn't He sometimes use the wisdom and advice of other Christians to do so?
     
  14. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Would say that the best advice would be to watch whatever builds you up, allows you to grow and mature in your walk with Jesus, and try not to get conformed into the worlds standards and morals!
     
  15. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    Yes, I think that would be good advice. I would also want to talk at least a little about some of the spiritually dangerous content on TV. While I agree that Scripture does not give enough details for us to give a list to someone else of exactly what is ok to watch, I think the Scripture gives enough guidance to know, for example, that shows which show fully naked women (for example) are not good for men to watch, because it will frequently cause lustful, adulterous thoughts. These types of shows are massively popular, and I think it is right to help other Christians understand why they are dangerous.
     
  16. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    The ones that are really dangerous would be the shows that casually present things against Christianity, such as when so many people used to watch Oprey, and she kept having false religious leaders coimng on her show!
     
  17. annsni

    annsni Well-Known Member
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    Each person has a struggle with something. You struggle with TV. I don't. I honestly barely watch it but do have a few shows my husband and I watch. If it were to suddenly not work, it wouldn't be a big deal. But because you struggle with TV doesn't mean no one else should watch it and it is a sin for them to watch it. Of course we need to be careful of the content of what we watch and I'm pretty strict on what I will watch but you can't just use such a broad stroke for others.
     
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  18. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    Yeshua, I agree that those kinds of shows can be every bit as dangerous, if not more so, than shows which have sexually immoral content. In fact, a once preached a sermon where I showed clips from an Oprah Winfrey show where she presents views contrary to the gospel. You can see the sermon, including the video clips, here:
     
  19. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    Ann, thanks for sharing this. Can you help me see where in my article I "use such a broad stroke for others"? I specifically state that I don't think everyone needs the same solution that has worked for me. Thanks!
     
  20. TCassidy

    TCassidy Late-Administator Emeritus
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    Because it would be my opinion, not God's word. And, contrary to their opinions of themselves, a preacher's opinions do not constitute natural law. I am content to allow people the soul liberty of discovering God's leading for themselves.

    Yes. God's word does that. And He does it much better than I do. Let God be God. :)
     
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