Television/ Internet Dominance (continued)
Setting Limits on TV Viewing:
- Limit the time you spend watching. The Bible tells us to use our time wisely. You can almost always find something better to do with your time than watching purely entertainment-oriented TV.
Be a good example of self-control with media. Parents must set an example that is worthy to be followed. Wise choices must be made, and self-control must be employed. The sobering fact is that our children will emulate what they see in us. They learn as much by how we live as they do by what we tell them. If we are always watching television, even if it is relatively good television, what message does that send to our kids? If we skip church to watch the game, if we justify dirty movies by “fast-forwarding the bad parts,” if we laugh at the sensual or irreverent sitcom jokes, what lessons do we teach our children? No matter what we say, we will not convince them that Jesus Christ is our highest love if the way we spend our free time suggests otherwise. Stand guard against sinful influences.
Compare your media intake with your intake of God’s Word. Are you more devoted to your own entertainment and amusement than you are to God’s precious Word? What plan of action will you take to address this?
- Decide on standards of acceptability and unacceptability. Don’t watch anything if nothing worth watching is on.
Psm 19:14 – “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Phil 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.”
Stand guard against sinful influences. Parents must watch over their family with vigilance. They need to know (and be in control of) the influences to which their children are being exposed. Ignorance is no excuse. If a child is wearing headphones, the parents should know what is on the MP3 player. If there is an Internet connection in a child’s room, the parents should know what Web sites are being visited and ensure that sinful content is blocked. If there is a television in the bedroom closet, the parents should know what shows are being watched. (For that matter, parents should seriously think through the potential temptations and risks involved before allowing their children to have private access to any media device, especially televisions, cell phones, or Internet-capable computers.) Media must be muted in our homes so that the noise doesn’t drown out the voice of God. If we are not careful to shield ourselves, we will be overtaken by the deluge, and more significantly, so will our children. As their spiritual (and legal) guardians, we must be proactive in the struggle against the assault of entertainment. Parents are called by God to be the prime influencers of their children. They must not surrender that role to a corded box that sits in the living room.
- Mute commercials.
- Be skeptical. Don’t zone out. Try to pick up on negative messages. Understand that much of what is on TV is trivial, meaningless and superficial. Don’t put a high value on programs or personalities. Don’t let TV become a habit.
- Discuss the content of TV shows. Analyze the show and talk to others about the messages the show is communicating.
Stimulate spirituality with your family. Your evenings at home are prime time not for watching television but for investing in your family. If you spend that time watching television instead of with your kids, you are neglecting your God-given responsibilities as a parent. Consider two things—among many others—that you trade for a few fleeting moments of relaxation and entertainment: a deep relationship with your children, and gospel opportunities to lead them to Christ. If you spend time with your kids, investing in them, learning about them, showering love upon them, and playing with them, they will want to turn off the television. When your children are all grown and gone from the house and you think back on the years you spent with them as a parent, what things will you regret? I’ve never met anyone who wishes they had watched more television and spent less time investing in relationships. Parents (especially fathers) need to take an active role in the spiritual development of their children. Youth pastors and other spiritual influences can be helpful supplements. But the primary spiritual responsibility for raising up godly children rests in the home. As God commanded Israelite parents 3,500 years ago, “You shall teach [God’s statutes] to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7). If we are to fully counter the effects of media, we must diligently teach our children the truth about God, sin, and salvation.
Be an active, aware TV viewer. Don’t just sit there and absorb everything that comes on the screen. React. If something offensive comes on, turn the channel or turn it off.
Remember the goal: we want to reduce or eliminate the negative effects that the media have on us. We don’t want to adopt the value system or the way of thinking of the immoral culture in which we live. In order to do so we must use our discernment: make an evaluation based on biblical standards. If a media resource is acceptable, okay. If not, reject it.
Note the Quote: There is nothing wrong with frivolous activity for one whose life is not committed to frivolity. There is no harm in superficial pleasures for one who also has a knowledge of the tragic and of the transcendent. The subjectivism of popular culture is impotent for someone whose life is characterized by rootedness in objective reality. Christians should not fear the idols and myths of our day, as long as they have no reverence for them.
Our culture yearns for recreation and rest. The entertainment industry feeds us the notion that we all deserve a little relaxation, and then happily presents us with many options. You work hard all day, so you deserve a little time in front of the television to unwind. Yet God’s Word sets a more exacting standard for those who follow Jesus Christ. We are called to live our lives exerting all of our energy for Christ, to spend and be spent, to fight the good fight of faith, to clamor after something far more worthy and infinitely more fulfilling than anything this world has to offer. We are to live for the glory of Christ! If we do, not only will our homes be bastions of godliness in a wicked world, the sacrifices we make for His sake will be abundantly rewarded in heaven. We would do well to join with the great theologian and writer Jonathan Edwards in being “resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.” Why would we spend our lives being amused by the dim hue of the television when we could be breathlessly enraptured in the blazing brilliance of Christ’s glory? Let us keep our eyes on Christ, the Author and Perfecter of the faith. In so doing, we will have little appetite for the fading illusions of this passing world.
Conclusion: Media has many benefits but can have a negative influence on us. We must be discerning about how much exposure to media we allow ourselves because much of it runs counter to Christian values and ideas. We must employ biblical principles and standards when evaluating to what extent we will access media. Christians can enjoy media, as long as they are discerning in their access and follow the guidelines listed above.
– David De Bruyn, Professor of Church History, Shepherds’ Seminary Africa