Garbage In, Garbage Out

Sometime last February I stopped watching tv. Well, let me clarify. I didn’t become morally opposed or anything, I just realized that I can get so much more done if I’m not glued to the set. The tv still comes on, Hila Fay watches her Dora and Umi Zoomie and in the evenings Chuck will relax in his chair watching the Discovery Channel or the Outdoor Channel, but I rarely pay any attention.

I have all my shows (Criminal Minds, NCIS, CSI …etc) set to record on our DVR. Right now there are fifty-four “new” shows waiting to be watched. In fact, I have so many to catch up on that I’ve run out of recording space! In an attempt to catch up, and spend some “quality” bonding time together, after Hila goes to bed Chuck and I have begun watching a show or two each evening.

Something strange happened as we sat down earlier this week and settled in for a night of Criminal Minds. After months of not watching anything harsher than Mike the Knight or Deadliest Catch, Criminal Minds seemed so … I don’t know so ugly. The violence, the plot the carry out, it felt like I had just rolled around in a pile of soot and went trompin’ through the house on my Momma’s clean floors.

A verse came to mind.
Phillipians 4:8 “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things.”

I’ve always loved this passage of Paul’s. The rhythmic, poetic bouncing appeals to the English major in me. This time, when I read the verses, I concentrated on Paul’s intent and not on the feel of the piece. His words are plain spoken and leave little to be falsely interpreted-in fact, it reminds me of a common modern day saying: garbage in, garbage out.

One thing that had me puzzled was, why were these shows bothering me now? Many of them I have been watching for years and never thought twice about it; but now I watch one episode and feel kinda guilty-but about what I don’t really know. Well, maybe I do. Maybe it all ties back to Phill 4:8.

My standing theory is that because I had watched the programs for so long I had become immune to all of their negative aspects. I thought that because (for the most part) they had clearly defined “good guys” and “bad guys” that that made them acceptable. But what I failed to recognize, and what I think Paul is warning us of with this command, is that with each “indiscretion” that we allow past our Christian filter we give another foothold to “the world”. As Christians we are supposed to stand out-like a light-, but when we allow darkness in (the unnecessary images of the murders and rapes that constitute my favorite shows) it dampens our spirit. I don’t know I’d that’s it exactly or not, but I do know that I never felt grungy after watching “The Walton’s” or “Dr. Quinn”.

How do you think our lives would be effected if we truly took Paul’s words to heart? If we made a conscientious effort to only allow things that are good and positive as entertainment in our lives, would it help my daughter to gain a more solid footing in her walk with God? When do you draw the line on what is acceptable entertainment and what would be displeasing to God-and how do you make that decision? Is it ok to watch a program that has an unmarried couple living together (or sleeping together) if the movie doesn’t actually show the sex, just innuendos about it? What about homosexuality (yes, I went there)? What if the lead characters themselves aren’t gay, but some of the supporting actors are? There are so many gray areas that it can be hard to decide…or maybe it’s only gray because I want it to be.

I read the Bible, I know what God approves of and what He doesn’t. The problem is not that I don’t know where God stands-the problem is that I wish to muddy up the waters so that I can justify watching my favorite programs. He’s black and white and I’m trying to make things gray so I can do the things I want to do. My brother pointed out to me that anytime I watch a program it counts me in its ratings, thus whether I like it or not I’m giving that show my seal of approval. So now, before I sit down and watch a show I pause and ask myself, Would God give this HIS seal of approval?


*If you are unsure about the content of a tv show or movie, Focus on the Family has a wonderful website, , that will give you a breakdown of the show. I’ve learned to check out movies in the theatre especially…it’s very awkward to take a kid to what you think is a clean movie and it open up with a shower scene! O_O


Categories Christian LivingTags , ,

13 thoughts on “Garbage In, Garbage Out

  1. In my own life, the problem isn’t wondering what the right thing to do (or not do) is – the problem is my mind trying to justify doing what I want…and it gets me in trouble every time! Great post Mel – your an inspiration to me to keep my standards higher and aligned with what I know to be truth – no matter what everybody else is doing!

    1. That’s kind if where I am. Even though I wrote this post, and know what I SHOULD do, at least fifty of my shows still remain on dvr begging me to watch them. O_o

    2. And thank you! Maybe we can help hold each other accountable, I think that’s why God told us not to forsake the fellowship of Christians.

      1. I agree – it’s so hard to find “real” christians to be accountable with!

      2. Yes they are. It seems to me that a majority of Christians fall into two categories now-a-days. Those who live a double standard, & those who fear becoming “politically incorrect” and thus ignore books like James (where we are instructed to hold each other accountable) altogether. I know that, at times, I have been guilty of both. I pray for forgiveness & strength so that I can be a better example for my daughter.

      3. Amen sister! I so agree – I don’t want my children to see the “phony” side of christianity – just the real deal.

      4. Me neither! Even if it means that I live in my bubble returning to the “old fashioned” ways, I will do what I must to create within Hila Fay a genuine love for God and a true desire to follow ALL of His ways.

  2. thanks for your lovely message and the new blog..I also dropped TV about 3 years ago and never looked back..amen to ur decision…I love the old fashion does my husband.

    1. My husband is going to put up an antenna, when he does we’re going to cut it off. I’ve already started moving my daughter towards movies cuz I don’t like some off the morals coming across on Nick Jr. I haven’t missed watching it, and my house thanks me! Lol!

      1. we put of an antenna and have nexflix that way when the grand kids come over we can monitor what they watch…we live in the country so they spend more time outside than in front of cable….and so do we!!amen so glad for you. you are not alone

      2. We live in the country too! Though we live too far out to stream videos, we have to have an Internet card through the cell company & it’s not strong enough for streaming. I’ve been scouring eBay for movies for Hila.

      3. that’s good…believe me you won’t miss it..I did at first but then I realized what I was watching wasn’t good for my soul and the blog began and my husband and I have more time with each other..

      4. You are so encouraging! When I waver I’ll just message you! Thank you 🙂

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