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, http://www.pluggedinonline.com , 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