One of the wisest things parents can do today is throw out the television altogether, except for watching educational programs and perhaps some carefully selected movies, and the selection of the latter will be slim indeed.
In looking back on my childhood growing up in a Baptist church, attending services at least three times a week, the two major influences that stole my heart for the world were public school friendships and television programs. We got a television when I was about eight years old (1957), and though the programs were nothing like they are today, they certainly did not encourage me spiritually. We got our television about a year after Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. I remember that by the time I reached junior high school, I did everything I could to stay home on Sunday nights, because that was when the most exciting programs of the week were on, such as the Disney Hour and The Ed Sullivan Show and the Dinah Shore program (“See the USA in your Chevrolet”). I don’t remember if I was home that Sunday night in 1964 when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, but I could have been. I was in high school and about that time my parents were having a lot of problems and had pretty much given up on trying to keep me in church. I had already started drinking and carousing around with my buddies every weekend. There is no doubt that television and movies fed my carnal imagination in a way that nothing else could have and, together with rock & roll, inflamed me with a passion for the things of the world.
One of my sisters gives the following testimony:
“As a little girl, I can remember the television being on constantly. It was my ‘friend’ and a means of escape from the troubles and insecurities in my life. As I would watch a certain program, I would think, ‘If I just had her personality or looks, I would be happy.’ Later, when I was older and programming became more wicked, I would stay up late and watch hours of mindless, foolish, empty, sitcoms, totally oblivious to the damage it was doing to me. Like a drug, it was altering my mind. When I gave my life to the Lord in 1987, I realized how much of my life had been adversely affected by the media and television. The Lord cleansed my mind as I read His Word and replaced the vain, man-centered philosophies with Truth. We have made the deliberate choice not to have a television in our home today and have purposed to not set any wicked thing before our eyes (Psalm 101:3). A child needs to learn how to communicate with his family, not just sit in a trance in front of a TV.”
Our co-worker Brian Snider had a similar experience growing up. He says,
“I always tell people that 3-4 hours of church a week can’t hold a candle to 30-40 hours of television as far as power and influence on a young kid. Church was boring; television was fun.”
Following are testimonies that were sent to me by Christian parents who have gotten rid of the television. These are extensive and there is some repetition, but I believe that it is important to publish them in order to offset the status quo that exists even in most allegedly staunch Bible-believing churches today.
“Sick of the nasty language, barely dressed women and/or men, sexual content, drugs, drinking, murder, the commercials, the list goes on, we have not had cable/antenna hook up for about six years in our home and we LOVE IT! The result has been wonderful! We are no longer couch potatoes. We enjoy the quietness in the home. We enjoy each other’s company. We enjoy more time spent with Father God. We spend more time in prayer, reading God’s Word and being with the each other. We do more out of doors activities--walking trails, driving to the mountains, etc.”
“Being engulfed in front of a TV has nothing to do with family time. Real family time is getting closer to God and developing an intimate, passionate, and personal relationship with Jesus!”
“We have had television for about one year in the past 27. Besides not being fit to watch, it was a big waste of time. We feel that our family unit was much stronger because of the lack of television in the home. Our children got better grades when they were in Christian School. The teacher actually guessed that we did not have television. It is also a blessing to see our grown children and their families serving the Lord without having a television to hold them back. When we got rid of the TV, we spent more time talking as a family and also played various games for our family time.”
“I was engaged to be married in 2007 with my now husband. We had met in a liberal church before switching over to a Bible-believing church. He had a big screen TV and I told him that I would not move in with him after we got married if he put the TV in our house. He kind of thought I was kidding and was annoyed at my persistence (which I'm sure came across as very bossy) but relinquished to store it at his cousin’s for a time. After about six months of marriage he thanked me for being so adamant. It took a long time for him to lose his addiction to using it to wind down after work but if you can get away from it long enough you become re-sensitized to the filth on it. My daughter is different than other girls from families that have cable or satellite. She is not fashion or boy crazy. She does not try to fit in with the in crowd or impress people with her personality. She is a kid the way kids are supposed to be, innocent to the wicked world around her, and for that I give praise to God. ... I'm sure my husband would say that he doesn't have to take time away from Bible reading to watch the hockey game or have a temptation to use the TV to ‘unwind’ instead of going to God for his comfort and solace. Not to mention the incredible temptation to lust in pretty much every commercial and TV program. I believe that TV is Satan's tool to steal our hearts and time away so we will not be of any use to God.”
“Having gotten rid of the TV, our children read more. They don't desire the ‘newest and latest’ thing. They don't adopt as many worldly habits. We spend time reading, just being together as a family, and studying.”
“Having eliminated television, we have noticed a marked improvement in the children's homeschooling and in their attitudes. Their conversations have also changed from what they watched to what they have done. We have a family devotion and Bible reading time and the children read more. As far as movies, we first look up to see the content and mostly watch Christian movies. We also view videos about prophecy and Biblical subjects. We do not permit anything that has cursing or using the Lord's name in vain. If these get past our checking ahead of time we turn them off when the offense occurs.”
“We were compulsive TV watchers. Enslaved is actually the word, so I had to eliminate it. Now we have a lot of time for the family. We do Bible study after dinner every day and play games with the kids. My wife and I have more personal time.”
“When our children play they use their own imagination; it is not an imitation of what they have seen on cable TV. They are not singing the songs, doing the little dance moves, asking us what certain words mean; they’re not practicing the attitudes they see; they are respectful to their father; we’re not always pestered to buy certain toys or food. Our children’s likes and dislikes are determined by the likes and dislikes of the family and not what’s been dictated by the TV. We read 10 chapters of the Bible daily, play with the children, and have all kinds of ‘projects’ going. We don't own a TV. We use a projector and a laptop to play movies which we may (and usually) watch on a Friday night. We are also careful as to the message the movie portrays and the music.”
“I got saved when I was 19 and used to watch television 8-10 hours a day and 26 hours on the weekends. When I started going to church and then through Bible College, where there were no televisions, I realized how much it had influenced the way I thought and perceived life. When we got married we decided not to have a television and have been thankful for it. It was only on deputation when we had more access to TV's and found when we turned them on, hours would easily be wasted, even just watching FOX News. Not to mention having to continually turn the commercials off. It got so annoying you either wanted to just leave it alone and not turn it off or miss something if you did turn it off. Unfortunately, leaving it on would win, and being aware of this we solidified in our minds we would not have a TV in our home, or cable for that matter. Both the programming and the commercials are written by non-Christians who are trying to influence others with their pagan humanistic philosophies and lifestyles. Cheating, illicit sex, drugs, homosexuality, teens in adult situations, Darwinism, cussing, and all kinds of things Christians shouldn't be setting before their eyes. Numerous times, even on ‘conservative’ FOX News, they had a story on prostitutes and actually showed a video of pole dancers.”
“We first disconnected cable subscription, thereby reduced viewing time. After that, we realized we would benefit from eliminating the TV altogether, especially with the commercials aired during an otherwise decent program. We find that the time is better used because the children play together more. My wife and I communicate more and better now that we do not have the television to capture our attention. Our children are also now ignorant of the current trends and shows, for which we are grateful. The children play together more and better.”
“I have found that I am more aware of bad language, improper dress and behavior, etc., out in the world than when I used to watch broadcast television. I believe television dulls the senses in these areas and we become calloused and complacent concerning things that should be offensive to a Christian. I do more Bible study in the evenings or just spending time enjoying the outdoors with my wife. People have a hard time believing we don't have cable or satellite TV, but I have not missed it. I knew the Holy Spirit (dwelling in me) was not comfortable watching and listening to what was on commercial television. We even tried just subscribing to nature and family channels for awhile, but the commercials on those channels advertising other networks were just as bad as the shows themselves, so we had to give it all up.”
“Eliminating commercial TV has had a three-fold benefit for us: 1. I am not de-sensitized to evil. Every three or four months I take my car to the Honda dealer in town for maintenance and in the waiting room is a TV tuned to CNN. I am shocked at the commercials. If no one else is watching it, I turn it off. 2. Contentment. Because I am not bombarded with commercials for more stuff, I am content with what I have. (A specific application of this contentment is that my first car lasted me 19 years.) 3. More hours in my day.”
“Over 15 years ago when we did have TV we noticed that everything on TV contradicted what we were trying to instill in our family. It was full of the worldliness that we were trying to keep our kids away from. We noticed that even the commercials were wicked. The kids would begin to mimic what they watched. We have never regretted eliminating TV from our lives. We haven't watched for over 15 years and would recommend doing the same to anyone. We have played many family board games, done crafts, exercised, and most often had family read-aloud times. Mom finds a great book to read aloud. She uses expression and different character voices to make it even more interesting. As the family listens, we laugh together, sometimes cry, and even get angry together. It allows us to discuss the book after the reading, and we find that everyone looks forward to read-aloud time. They even beg for it! As for videos, we watch mostly on weekends. If there is any cursing, sexual situations, New Age, disrespect to authority, etc. we throw it away. Most of our DVDs are old movies, black and white, or educational. Some internet has taken the place of TV but only in a research capacity. We have the same rules for internet as we do for DVDs/movies. We have received some criticism from extended family members. They mock our decision by telling us we are too overprotective. It has hurt the children as it comes from their grandparents. Also, when they have seen their pastors watch regular TV it has caused them to become disappointed that a man of God has not seen the obvious sin. We are to abstain from ALL appearance of evil, and TV clearly has plenty of evil. Regardless, it has given us an opportunity to show the children we live to please God, not man, and we are all responsible for our own choices.”
“We got rid of television because we didn’t want to allow bad influences for our children. We play games, spend time doing other activities. We have limited Christian movies, documentaries, and other morally clean movies. We include some of the older TV series that are on DVD. We avoid profanity, nudity, crudeness, bad behavior, unacceptable behavior that is being taught or insinuated is ok, sexual overtones, etc.”
“My husband and I grew up on TV, too much of it, and as we started our family while attending the church we go to now, we knew pretty early on (when our first two children were toddlers) decided that we shouldn’t get the kids used to having cable and that the TV would be on only when a video or DVD that mom and dad OK’d would be shown. We didn't want them saying, ‘Oh, it’s 3 o'clock, time to watch . . . .’ We wanted TV time to be in our control as well as what they would and could watch. The result is they aren’t sitting in front of the TV watching endless programs and then getting irritated at us for making them FINALLY turn it off. The younger two play outside a lot; another loves to read. We haven’t had negative feedback in our church circles, because we attend a fantastic Baptist church with a great pastor whose preaching is very black and white, (much like yours) and preaches about the repercussions of watching too much TV, or any TV really since there’s very little he can even recommend watching.”
“We got rid of the television 31 years ago when our oldest was four. It was a time waster, and the four-year-old was demanding to watch a favorite show of his when it was supper time. We did not want the TV to run our family schedule. Along with home schooling, that has been the best decision we have made for our family. Our family felt closer together; the children had time to develop hobbies, and did not have the interest in worldly music, Hollywood, clothing, etc. It definitely led to the better opportunity for them to develop spiritually without those distractions. Our kids did a lot of reading, playing games together and developing their hobbies like piano playing and 4-H activities.”
“I believe that commercials are harmful, but more harmful is the general belief system that is perpetrated in movies, like ‘Supernatural’ -- where is God in their lives? ‘Big Brother’ or reality TV -- don’t they have anything better to do with their lives? ‘Supermodels’ -- what are they teaching our children, shallowness and superficiality? Having said all that, I must admit that the mindlessness of TV is very attractive and seductive, and it does take willpower to push the ‘off’ button.”
“We don't watch television, other than my husband watching four games of football a year. We have found the children are not questioning our authority like they used to. They do not follow the latest fads that come and go on TV, and are consequently less likely to ask (i.e. nag) about having toys or other commercial items that might go with favourite TV shows. We are not allowing social trends into our home that teach anti-biblical consequences (such as promiscuity), so our children are much more innocent and wholesome than otherwise would be the case. I am a stay at home mother (we home school) and have found myself to be far less influenced by worldly concepts and dictates. We previously used to let the children watch television during the day when Dad was not at home. They now spend that time on schoolwork, working around the home, or playing creatively. My husband used to watch TV at night after the kids were in bed, but he now has time to spend with study and doing things around the house. We watch carefully selected movies on DVD/video that are God honouring, uplifting, and don't expose us to violence, swearing, promiscuity or other worldly concepts/sins. We do not watch a movie just because it has a Christian theme, as a lot of these are still exposing us to evil influences. We tend to review our library of books and movies on a regular basis, as we have found our criteria have become stricter over time. We noticed that even shows we had thought were ‘safe’ such as Playschool, were still carrying a lot of worldly themes, and the children would always ask for more TV viewing rather than doing something useful or constructive.”
“The programming was becoming so evil and it definitely was not upbuilding or worthwhile. We tried watching the news at five o'clock, and during the commercials we would put a piece of cardboard over the screen. Finally, we stopped that habit. The result is peace of mind and freedom from a worldly influence which is neither encouraging or uplifting. We read, or walk, sew, play games, study the Word, work on household projects, write notes and letters to people to encourage them, etc. We watch wholesome videos or DVD’s, and we are very careful about what we watch. Sometimes people will look at us like we are ‘strange,’ but we don’t want to put anything evil before our eyes or hurt the Lord in any way. There was an experience at a church we attended for six and one-half years. There was a gathering at the pastor's home and there were some very bad commercials during the program, and I quietly got up and left. No one else did.”
“There is violence in just about all programs, and the worldly philosophy in the programs conditions our thinking away from and dulls our sensitivity to spiritual things. We were helped by a pamphlet entitled ‘Television the Trojan Horse.’ Entertainment for me personally easily becomes an idol and a growing awareness of my accountability before God of how I lead my family and the example I set was a big reason for giving up TV. Since giving up TV, we have become more sensitive to worldly music and programs. When we visit our in-laws we have a lot of trouble finding a quiet refuge. We spend some time with family devotions after the evening meal and play some board games. Our son has been learning the piano and he often does school projects at home. Our son and daughter play more together. As for DVDs, the selection is very limited. We tried some ‘Little House on the Prairie’ DVDs that I remembered from TV 20 years ago, but they require some discussion as they have some subtle themes that trouble us. We have been listening to some Christian Internet radio stations that have very good music and news stories.”
“My husband and I eliminated the television 15 years ago. The original reason was that we found ourselves wasting time in an ever increasing evil medium. We would sit down to watch a 30 minute show and find ourselves in the same spot two hours later. As our family grew--we have three children ages 12 to two--we felt to have a TV ban was very important. First and foremost the TV is evil; it is the devil not much in disguise. When we do happen to see the TV on vacations or in homes of others it is shocking to us what is being seen by children and adults on a daily basis. We are embarrassed, shocked, saddened, but others who see it every day it is nothing. Second it is a waste of precious time. The benefits of no TV include better relationships, quality time with children, prayer time, play time, good work ethic, separation from the world, a wonderful library, many projects being completed, extended family events, positive productivity, wholesomeness, quietness, and we feel that it is pleasing to the Lord. Our children are allowed to watch a movie once a week, generally Friday nights, of appropriate content.”
“We have not had commercial television for over seven years now and our children have grown up the later part of their years without being influenced by what others think or feel we should have in our lives or what they should be doing! Our son was 14 years old and our daughter was 11. For two years prior to the commitment to not have the TV as a focus in our lives, we had always given reasons for having it as valid! (They were so wrong!) We wished we had done it years before. The result from not having commercial television is that we have more time for one another and a house less selfish in all aspects of our day-to-day lives, not just who wants to watch what and when but the TV is not the centre of our lives. There were many reasons why we eliminated commercial television from our family. We didn’t want our children being influenced by the latest trends and philosophies, from the teaching of children’s programs and showing them that smoking is cool to the idea that it is OK to be gay to the promotion of evolution as fact in wild life programs! We knew that it was an influence in all our lives, taking the focus off of us as a family and especially our walk with the Lord. One problem with the TV is that people generally leave it on, even when they are not watching it, and without realising it they are being influenced by it.”
“We eliminated television because we did not feel in control of what we watched; we felt guilty from watching wrong programming; it was consuming too much time; and we wanted to spend more valuable time with the children. It has been wonderful. My daughter (eight) now consumes books, I don’t deal with nagging guilt about that program I just can’t stop watching. It’s a huge burden off of my shoulders. Now we read together, bake together, sing together. Also my daughter has learned how to work around the house. The commercials are as harmful as the programming. If you find a good program, like something on the History channel, the next thing you know during a commercial a dozen women wearing bikinis are bouncing up and down, and my husband is subject to this soft porn. So that is our concern about the television? You cannot control what you are watching.”
“We gave up the television because of the wickedness of it and its effect on our lives and the kids. I can't stand hearing God's name being blasphemed every minute (or more)! The kids are LOT more obedient and listen to instruction. Reading has been the main replacement activity.”
“My husband, years ago, was given a tape to listen to about television (maybe it was called ‘The Devil's University’). He was convicted about it, and after struggling with it for a couple more months (because he didn't want to give up watching sports), he finally said he was going to get rid of the cable, which prohibited us from getting ANY reception at all. I was personally overjoyed. My husband’s main reason for doing away with the TV was because he felt he was addicted to it, because of sports. When he came home at night, he would walk in the door and immediately turn on the TV. He was glued to it for the rest of the night, and if anyone spoke to him, he’d say he was listening, but he really wasn’t. He admitted this later on. It was a time-waster, and it hurt all our relationships. He is adamantly against TV now, and he says it was the best thing we ever did, to get rid of it. Whenever we’ve been in a hotel, or at my mother’s, we’ve flipped through the programs to see if anything good was on, and we have been shocked at how much WORSE things have gotten. Homosexuality, sex, nudity, bad words, the Lord’s name in vain, etc., is right out in the open. We believe strongly that if the children shouldn't watch it, then the adults shouldn’t watch it either!’ We should be very careful about what we put into our minds and into our children’s minds. Television gives us a ‘taste’ for the world.”
“It's been many years now since we got rid of our television. The result is that my husband and I have a MUCH better relationship than we did before. We talk more. We think more. We read more. There is quietness and peacefulness. The children were GREATLY affected by it, in that we spent the evenings together doing other things. Their relationship with their father improved drastically. It gave us more precious TIME. We all became more sensitive to the ungodliness that is on TV, too. Another result is that our children are grown up now and two are married and in the ministry. Neither of them has a television, and they don't want it! They are so much happier without it. That is a blessing to me personally, to know that they and THEIR children do not have television nor WANT it. My daughter has two little girls, and they too are being brought up without TV. They will not be influenced by all the ungodliness that’s there. We never run out of things to do, and I sometimes wonder when there ever WAS time to watch television!”
“We only watch an old movie classic, or something rated G, now and then. We don't watch anything rated higher than G, and we've found that even in PG, there is SOMETHING wrong. It could be a bad situation or a bad word. We don’t want to put anything ungodly into our minds.”
“When we first got rid of our TV, there was more criticism than there is now. People have been pretty accepting of it recently, and we've actually met some other people who also don't have TV. But in the beginning, most people were aghast and shocked to find out that we didn't have TV. They probably thought we were off our rockers, but we just raved about how wonderful it was. And it WAS! It was one of the biggest joys of my life to be WITHOUT TV! What a difference it made. Interestingly, my own mother was the biggest criticizer, and she still is, to this day. She is disapproving of it, saying that I'm not being informed about what's going on, but we can listen to the news on the radio, and we can also read the newspaper.”
“My husband starting getting preaching CDs from a pastor in Tennessee years ago. That preacher really warns his people about the TV and video games, and over five years ago we got rid of the television. I wish we had gotten rid of it sooner or never had it to begin with. We were very selective in what we allowed our children to watch. ... We never even missed the television. I believe as a result God has moved in the lives of our children. They spend more time reading. One of our sons was reading a sermon by Dr. Lee Roberson on the judgment seat of Christ and God pricked his heart and he felt God calling him to preach. It is amazing what God has done with him. He preaches at the nursing homes, jail and sometimes at our church. We live on a farm, so our youngest two children have animals they take care of. They also like to read and do crafty things. We all read more and keep busy with church visitation, services, nursing home, and the two oldest do the jail ministry every week.”
“We always get criticism from my husband’s parents. They were always trying to bring the kids a movie to watch. Once they brought one, knowing we don’t watch movies, and my husband told them no. They kept telling us we were missing out. It seems that every time we go to their house for any holiday they have a video they got at the Christian book store for everyone to watch. The last one was a short little video full of rock music. I took my daughter and left the room. She later asked me if it offended me and I told her yes, but even more it was dishonoring to our Lord. They rented a cabin for the whole family in the Smoky Mountains once and one of my nieces bought a movie for all the grandkids to watch. We of course were the bad guys because we didn't let our kids sit and watch it with them. They think we are nuts because we try to live a separated life.”
“I heard about a preacher and his wife visiting a town and they went out to eat. They saw the headlines of a paper that said Lucy had died. The preacher had to ask the waitress who Lucy was because he didn't know. He had never watched TV. I wish I and my children had that testimony. Hopefully my grandchildren someday will have that testimony.”
“My wife and I made a decision before we were married that we would not have commercial television in our home. We both came from Christian homes where there was television and we had both recognized the ungodly influence that it had had on our prospective families. There had clearly been a desensitizing effect on both us and the other family members. We believed that watching TV would be to grieve the Holy Spirit because we were viewing conduct, lifestyles, language, values, etc. that are forbidden in God's Word. We also believed that watching television was an incredible waste of the most precious commodity that we have on earth, which is time. If we were to redeem the time because the days are evil, we could not have the television in our home. Instead of watching television, we sing, play games, read books, listen to audio stories, listen to preaching and Christ-honouring music. We allow our children to watch DVDs that do not promote worldliness or rebellion and do not contain language and content that would violate a Spirit-sensitive conscience. We as parents watch DVDs that are instructional/encouraging and would lead us into a closer relationship with the Lord.”
“We got rid of the television because it appealed to the lust of the eyes and flesh, the pride of life, and deadness of the mind. The Bible says, ‘Be not conformed to this world,’ and, ‘If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in Him.’ I truly believe TV is the number one assault of the evil one. He desensitizes through it and conforms people to the world system of thinking. It is hinders spiritual growth and living out the Spirit-filled life. Another key factor is the freeing of time to do more creative things with family and church. We are no longer bound to time slots and the start times of sporting games. We have more quality time to spend with children doing things together besides watching TV. We no longer have to worry about commercials; having the remote in hand ready to make fast changes was a hassle. It has resulted in getting closer to God especially through family devotional time. It has led me personally to read a whole lot more than I use to. I have become more pure in spirit, by not filtering in all the stuff the world tries to throw at you. I believe the commercials might be even more harmful than the regular programming. I use to love to watch sports, especially football. (I played the game in college.) However when watching a game the commercials were a huge distraction. As I grow in the Lord, I am seeing that even the sporting events themselves are not healthy. This is due to the attitudes of the men playing the games. They are full of pride and of themselves. You can’t learn to be humble by watching sports in our day; it has become entertainment. Jesus said, ‘Learn of Me for I am meek and lowly in heart.’”
“My wife and I have never had commercial television. It has kept the world from flooding into our home and given our family and our kids, especially, the spiritual, social, and intellectual opportunity to bond, to function, and to occupy oneself without surrendering control to the idiot box. I get to spend a lot more time playing and fellowshipping with my family. My kids actually look forward to ‘church time’ at night. We sit around, sing some songs; I break out the hand puppets and act out Bible stories. Little is much when God is in it. I refuse, by God’s grace, to abdicate my role to the eye of the world. Trying to decide which is more harmful, the television programs themselves or the commercials, is like saying which poison will kill you faster. I think both are harmful in their own individual ways. Programs perpetuate a false philosophy and approach to reality, while commercials elicit covetousness. Both are wrong, but sin works its way out in different ways in different people. In addition to the wickedness and my desire not to abdicate my responsibility to train, to teach, and to fellowship with my family, we gave up television because it destroys a child’s ability to think, to concentrate. Plopping them in front of the tube teaches them that rapid-fire images and sounds is the only way to be entertained. How can I ever expect them to sit quietly in church or focus on reading if they have been conditioned to be over-stimulated by these forms of media?”
“We have four children from ages 16 to 8. We do not watch commercial television with the exception of occasional news and weather. Our children are not allowed to watch TV unsupervised. There are no TVs in the bedrooms. We found that even good educational shows had offensive commercials. Even most educational shows have a strong humanistic, evolutionistic, and anti-Christian bias.”
“Since we home school, some of our curriculum uses DVDs. We are very careful with the screening of DVDs. It seems anything that was produced from the evangelicals after 1970 has questionable material. We bought some old Moody Films (1960s). We also get preaching DVDs of independent Baptist preachers, missionaries and evangelists. I have all the videos in my office and the children need to see me when they want to watch one. Some parents would say we are sheltering our children too much. In fact, we probably aren’t sheltering them enough. We eliminated television from our home when our oldest one was four years old. I think our children are more creative, social and obedient. They exhibit less violent tendencies as well. For myself, I read more, especially the Bible and good Bible-teaching material. Our younger children play a lot together. They also have daily chores to do and we don’t have to compete with the TV to get them to do their chores.”
“I eliminated TV from my life over four years ago, and the change has been most blessed! I realized that I was being entertained by sin and was committing sin by partaking of it, and that I was not hating evil as I should (Psa. 97:10). It has given me a far greater sensitivity of sin and unholiness; it has cleansed my mind, heart, and life of much uncleanness that I had subjected myself to; and it has given me a far greater appreciation for wholesome, virtuous, Philippians 4:8 things to spend my time doing. I was single when the Lord first convicted me about getting rid of the destructive influence of TV, but since then by His grace He has given me a wife and son who shall also be separated from television. Since I quit viewing commercial television I have used that time reading more of the Bible and other good books, doing evangelistic and other ministry, writing, and learning and singing hymns. As a family I intend to teach my children to love and read the Bible and other good books, sing hymns, memorize Scripture, and have a heart for ministry from a very early age.”
“We got rid of commercial television because of sex, violence, a messed up view of family, dating and bad relationship examples, fathers seen as idiots, Humanism, the void of God and His principles; it is a brain drainer, time waster, and disconnects us from one another. TV becomes a god over the Heavenly Father. Wow! What a difference. Our children are protected from violence and sexual content. Our children do not have the extreme aggressive behaviors that we see in other children, acting out, foul mouth, etc. Our girls are not concerned about stylish clothes or have a warped body image. They do not think that all dads are goof balls and that wives are the only smart ones always waiting for the husband to goof up. They see homosexuality as a sin rather than an alternative way of life. Our kids are not as materialistic. I can go to the grocery store with five kids and never be asked, ‘Can we get this or try this?’ Instead of watching television, we read, play, go to parks, use our creativity, TALK, and we still do watch some movies or other DVD programs. The television is used for school and movies from our collection or pre-previewed (by Dad and Mom); no immodest dress (that knocks out a lot of old movies too); shows where the father leads; shows that do not have a dating spirit; historical programs that are accurate; nothing about evolution; almost no Disney (a very limited few such as ‘Old Yeller’); sermon DVDs; documentaries; no sports; Moody Science; no magic. Both the programs and the commercials were harming the family. We would watch a moral show, but the commercials in between were awful. We were always telling our children to look the other way, but the damage was done. Another bad thing is just flipping through the channels to get to a ‘good show,’ which are hard to find. It is just too much of a temptation and before you know it, you have wasted one, two, three, four or more hours vegging out. Looking back we cannot believe what we used to watch. You get so sucked into it and become so desensitized to sin and you find yourself overlooking a lot of trash. It was awful what we used to think was funny. By God's grace we only had two children at the time when my husband pulled the plug. I have never been more proud of him. I thank the Lord for men who are not going to take it anymore and are protecting their families. To God be the Glory!”
“My kids have grown up without a TV in the home. My girls do not need to be ‘entertained.’ They are very creative and active. The TV we have now was given to us this past summer, and it is used for Xbox (games which are also censored). XBox is used mostly if company comes to play, although I will encourage outside/other activities first. Occasionally my daughters will play it on their own (my guess would be maybe once every two months, not a lot). It is used with a time limit (no more than 1/2 hour). We are a busy family. When we do have family time, we don’t want it to be sitting around the TV. That is does not build relationships. We have our own business, so the internet is ‘there,’ but I am very careful to limit the usage for the kids. It is for homework and occasional use together. They do not access to the internet without us there. They do not have an email account to communicate with their friends. Again, we encourage real life relationships versus ‘virtual’ relating. Other forms of media include books (a lot), radio programs, and CD’s for learning or music.”
“God told us very clearly to get rid of it and it’s been four years and He has blessed us with knowing over and over that we did the right thing. Praise Jesus! It is all JUNK JUNK JUNK!!!! It does not reflect in ANY way how we are to live as believers and it confuses our children with what the Bible teaches and what the world says is acceptable. It will consume you for mindless, thoughtless hours and steal away days that should be spent with the Lord and your family. Getting rid of it has been marvelous! My children aren’t the least bit interested in all the ‘stars’ and hoopla over the next big thing. They understand that it isn’t just Mom and Dad being strict; they see that it is garbage and it is in many ways idolatry and that Satan will use it to turn people away from God. We read and do Bible studies together. We have family prayer every night. We take walks and play outside, light a fire in the fire pit on cool nights. We just spend time talking and enjoying each other!.”
“The reasons why we got rid of the commercial television include Lust, Sodomy, Envy, Covetousness, Nudity, Rebellion, Anti-God, Anti-Christian, Anti-Family, Sports, Promiscuity. Let's see, that just in the first commercial break. You get my point. I have discovered the TV and public school are what shapes our society. When you pull out or unplug, you find that you no longer fit in, which is a good thing! Programmers dictate fashions, values, goals, etc., for youth. Children get to a point where they want to make some independent decisions, even good kids. It’s not [necessarily] rebellion; just part of growing up. None of us want small clones of ourselves. We want youth that can think and make their own decisions. Well, if broadcast TV is allowed in the home it will be a major influence when young folks start to make those independent decisions. All you have to do is watch for 15 minutes to discover what that will result in.”
“We have more time together. Many times, we just sit around and talk. We play games. We read more books. We read a lot more online news. My children are all pretty savvy about what is going on in politics and world news.”
“Before we were married we began to study and consider ‘how to direct a family.’ My husband was strongly burdened with this and much study and discussion ensued. Early in our marriage many things were firmly established and our way was committed. The following are key verses as we studied, meditated and discussed our new ‘household’ in great detail: II Corinthians 10:5-7; Philippians 2:5 (thinking very much upon the word ‘let’); II Timothy 2:15; Deuteronomy 6. Television did not seem an appropriate tool for the accomplishment of the above Scriptures.”
“The glory belongs to God as He is the one who revealed to us through His Word the many hazards of TV; spiritual as well as economic, which both have to do with stewardship of God’s blessing/provision of Time and Money. It was before our three children were born that we eliminated TV. Our testimony as to the benefits of this ‘odd behaviour’ (as deemed by nearly all believers we know) comes primarily from the contrast we see between US and THEM. Even our ten-year-old can observe with very telling remarks, ‘J.... has only a TV brain now; he used to like going outside when we were little but now he loves TV.’ The breaking apart of ‘Christian’ homes begins so early and the parents we know seem completely clueless as to WHY? ... Our family is obviously ‘different’ from others in our fellowship; especially now that many of our families have tween/teenagers, the influences of TV are becoming more and more apparent. Our children can barely sustain any level of conversation with their ‘peers’ when we are at the meetinghouse as they do not know of the latest TV or movie and this is the substance of the talk, not just among children but we find this to be true among most adults. In summary I guess the result within our family has been to maintain and stay on a course of family life being that of a ‘family unit.’ We have a common bond and a common goal which is endued with common interest; thus we enjoy each other in all our activities. At the same time the unexpected ‘spectre’ of being so ‘different’ from others has transcended that initial ‘you don’t use TV?’ as an odd sort of query, to more of a telling comment ‘THEY don’t use TV.’”
“Since our family never had commercial TV our children will often inquire as to ‘why do people watch TV?,’ ‘what is on TV that is better than....(here they will list some of their favorite activities such as playing outside, hunting, playing board games, visiting the ‘old’ people who talk of their ‘historic’ lives).”
“We have purchased some series such as Moody Science, Mr. Fix-It, Newton’s Workshop, Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution, as well as seminars (AIG, ICR) and lectures (Providential HIStory) that are faith affirming and building, mostly to do with a literal interpretation of creation. In the winter months (in Maine that's Dec. - Mar.) when outside activity is a bit more limited we watch some DVDs. The ‘history’ DVD's often need editing along with interruption to explain some revisionist views. Often our teenagers will spot this obvious error and it is a delight to critique a piece together. This same scenario is played out with ‘biographical’ works as well. Most of this will amount to a Friday movie night. Much of the excitement comes not from the movie (we’ve watched ‘Sgt. York’ endlessly) as much as the cozy time, pizza and a LATE NIGHT. When you don’t give your children EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME, they appreciate the ‘extra’s’ now and then as well as the NEED for temperance in each of our lives. We have learned over the years NOT to take the advice, ‘WOW! We watched a GREAT movie last night, have you seen...’ at face value. Too many times we have obtained these suggestions only to turn them off after a bit and pray for the family that suggested it.”
“I quit TV in 1997 as a pagan. I knew enough even then to know that it was destroying my mind and heart. I was saved in 2000 and married in 2004 to a fine Christian woman. We now have four children with the oldest being four and a half, and they’ve never known what it is like to have a TV in the home or to regularly watch movies. Rather than struggle with how to fill any void, we constantly wonder how people find time to watch TV or movies! Our days are packed with activities and creativity. Our children love books, crafts and playing outdoors with anything from dirt to sticks to plastic swords and cars and bikes. An overriding impression of a TV-free life for our kids is that their creativity knows no bounds. Also, something I’ve left out is that our kids have grown quite accustomed to just sitting around and talking. That is what mom and dad do after dinner and at breakfast. They are talkers and thinkers because that is what fills their days when they are not playing, etc. On long drives, we talk to them, listen to music, and read books to them.”
“The last TV watching I can remember with my wife was at a Superbowl party. We were horrified and disgusted by the mockery of sin, appeals to base instincts and total dearth of wholesome influence in the commercials. We have not gone to another one of these since then. To be ‘off the grid’ of TV for 12 years and then be exposed to it in bits and pieces as I have been in other homes is to be struck at how far the wickedness of TV has come. People, sincere Christians included, have no clue how desensitized they have become to the mockery of sin and denigration of all that is good that fills the TV screen. To have children is only to solidify our conviction of banning TV from our home. We have essentially tied a millstone around the neck of our TV and thrown it into the sea, rather than have it lead one of our little children into sin.”
“Mark this: we have no illusions about our own holiness. We are humbled even by those of our own generation at times, no less brethren from past generations, no less our elder brother and Lord, Jesus Christ. We have not arrived by any stretch, yet we know we will work much harder unnecessarily if we try to walk with the Lord while tied to the ball and chain of TV.”
“We eliminated commercial television from our family life approximately eight years ago. At first we limited TV watching to programs we believed were edifying and not harmful, but even with these limitations we saw that our children were being exposed to commercials for ungodly TV shows and the disrespectful and ungodly behavior of children in other TV advertisements. The result has been excellent as it has helped us to ‘come out from among them and be ye separate’ in a number of ways: we spend more time with family devotions because no one is in a hurry to see their favorite show (we had two that struggled with this before); we do not have the influence of worldly trends; and we do not have our focus on worldly newscasts, which seem to have mostly become propaganda-casts more than newscasts anyhow.”
“At first, the children, a girl then 11 and a boy then nine, were quite upset. We made this decision two years ago because even the shows from the Family Channel were using bad language, immodest clothing, questionable values; and what awakened us was the way the children in those shows were speaking to their parents and about their parents. One day, we were wondering why our children were speaking to us in such a disrespectful manner. The grandmother in the family asked, ‘Have you watched the shows you children have been watching lately?’ We had not because we were busy working and we trusted the Family Channel. My husband sat with the kids and watched their beloved shows for three days and then he cancelled our cable subscription. Now we read; we play games with the kids; we do more sports; the girl is learning to knit, the boy does enormous Lego constructions; they each started learning to play a musical instrument. We spend more time talking to one another.”
“If a person says he has control over television then he is still watching Lassie reruns without viewing commercials.”
“God spoke softly to our hearts. We just started feeling very uncomfortable when we were watching TV. My husband said that it’s time to get rid of it. It was not a slow process of just eliminating a few programs; we just threw the TV out. ... It is a real tool of Satan to subtly get your mind off of Jesus. I mean when you’re watching Die Hard, or any other show for that matter, are you really thinking on things that are pure, just, holy, peaceable, etc. like the Bible commands us to do? We need to obey the whole Bible not just parts of it. Do you think Jesus and the Holy Spirit are sitting down with you as you watch TV hours on end? God has a higher calling for us, Just read James 1:27. Most people forgot that second half of that verse, ‘Keep yourself unspotted from the world.’”
“We used to refer to our TV as a ‘time vacuum,’ because when we had it, we watched it ‘just because’ it was there. Now, there is more time to do productive and worthwhile things, like extra school or house work, family initiated fun things, board games, outdoor play, etc.”
“My father got rid of commercial TV when I was only eight years old and I am very thankful for this decision. I resolved in my heart that when I got married and had a family that I would never allow commercial TV in my home. I have been married for over 25 years now with 10 children and we have maintained that commitment. I believe it has been a key in helping to keep the hearts of our children and to keep our family spiritually minded! Instead of watching TV we do things together as a family in ministry, prayer, singing, reading, gardening, walking, or just talking together.
“We have chosen not to watch television because of the ungodly influences. Scripture is very clear that we are not to learn the way of the heathen and that we are to be simple concerning that which is evil. We don’t feel justified in wading through the filth to enjoy a few decent programs. Some folks say they can control it, but we don’t believe that is possible. It ends up controlling those who watch it and they become desensitized to the wickedness that is on it. We also believe that TV viewing is a great waste of time, that it hinders creativity and results in a short attention span. How can we ask for the Lord’s blessing on our home while pumping the filth of this world into our living room? How can we expect our children to be spiritually minded and to have a heart for God and revival while having a steady diet of ‘garbage’ from TV?”
“We unplugged our cable in February of 2007. It has been the biggest blessing to our family. I’m actually in tears writing this because without unplugging from the system I know I would have lost my daughter and my son would be totally different. At the time my daughter was only four years old but she would rather watch the TV than do anything else. In short it has been a tremendous blessing. When I look at the family time we spend together it amazes me. For example, our meal times are spent sitting not rushed and talking together. We spend time daily in the Word as a family singing, reading Scripture, discussing Scripture, and praying. My daughter spends a lot of time playing her piano and reading good wholesome books. My kids do what most kids do, play, and they don’t need the TV or video games to keep them occupied. We have also filled our house with great Christian music and not CCM music. I truly believe TV is a curse in anyone’s house. We know Christians with TV’s and their kids are certainly different.”
“My daughter loves watching babies and children. Before it became a ‘soap opera,’ we let her watch a little of the ‘John and Kate Plus 8’ reality show (short clips on the computer). But we had to put a stop to that because we noticed our daughter throwing fits more often. We believe that the kids on the show set a bad example in behavior and our daughter was copying them.”
“We noted a marked increase in their creative abilities (drawing, crafts, etc.) as well as their desire to participate in them. Our six year old made a huge leap forward in her reading ability, and our ten year old rediscovered a love for reading that had been slowly waning for several years. Instead of watching television, we are involved in reading, playing outside, games with the family, listening to sermons online, watching DVDs. We rent or borrow DVDs from the library or video store. We monitor how much ‘screen time’ each child gets. ‘Screen time’ includes computer and/or television/movie time.”
“We got rid of commercial television because although we could control the programs we watched, we could not control the advertisements. These are often more wicked and filthy than the TV show. When it comes to watching DVDs, if anything objectionable appears, we turn it off. The rule is that no one is welcome in our house as a teacher who is immoral, immodest, or ignorant of the subject they are teaching. This rule is applied to all movies, because movies teach.
These are powerful, real-life testimonies. The moral and practical benefits of giving up television are massive.
Television is a slippery slope. It is getting progressively worse, and the majority of Christian homes are succumbing to Hollywood’s siren song. Like the frog in the gradually heated pot, God’s people who are careless about separating from Hollywood’s filthy fare become desensitized by it.
A missionary friend was eating a meal with a fundamental Baptist pastor and his wife a few years ago when the topic of the movie Titanic (rated PG-13) came up. When the missionary expressed his opinion that the movie is ungodly, the pastor’s wife said that they had seen it and had enjoyed it. The missionary asked what they thought of the nudity in the movie, and the pastor’s wife said it was “tastefully done.” This illustrates how worldly many fundamental Baptist churches have become. If pastors and their wives are enjoying movies featuring premarital affairs, what are the other members of the church watching! The Bible says the pastor is to be the example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). Woe unto those multitudes of worldly pastors and deacons and Sunday School teachers who are comfortable with Hollywood’s cesspool and who do not teach their people the fear of God and separation from the world.
SCRIPTURE WARNINGS THAT APPLY TO TELEVISION VIEWING
The following Scripture passages have a direct application to this issue and are a loud warning to those who have ears to hear. Parents need to teach their children these biblical principles and guide them in learning how to apply such principles to their daily lives. It is not enough to have a list of do’s and don’ts.
“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me (Psalm 101:3).
This verse single-handedly forbids the child of God to watch the vast majority of the movies and television programs that are made today. Consider just a few of the wicked things that you or your children will see:
* The breaking of all of God’s commandments
* Open and flaunted immorality
* Casual drinking and drug usage
* Drunkenness portrayed as humorous
* Sexually alluring fashions
* Sexually enticing dancing
* Violence and mayhem
* Casual dating (Parents, do you want your children to date after the fashion portrayed in most movies and television programs?)
* Mockery of the things of God
* Mockery of God’s people
* Pagan religions depicted as truth
* Occultism, paganism, and New Age error (even in cartoons and in a large number of Disney movies)
“I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1)
This verse is similar to the one in Psalm 101:3, but it warns more specifically about looking upon women to lust after them. The Lord Jesus Christ warned, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). These verses are solemn warnings to men and boys NOT to watch Hollywood movies, whether in the theater or at home. In public, most men will not stare at a woman very long because he is self-conscious about doing that, but when he is watching a movie, he can stare as long as he desires at an indecently-clad female, even if his wife is sitting by his side. Twenty years ago I asked a pastor friend, “Why do you think so many pastors are committing adultery?” I have never forgotten his simple reply: “Television.”
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” (Ephesians 5:3-7).
This is a perfect description of the vast majority of Hollywood movies today. It also describes the sensual rock music that goes hand in hand with practically all of today’s movies. The child of God is not to participate in such things, even by proxy.
“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8).
Not only is it dangerous to watch evil things but it is equally dangerous to hear evil things. There are occasions in this wicked world in which we do not have complete control over what we see and hear, but when we are in our homes, we do have control. And we do have control over where we go and what we do with our own time. Television programs and movies are literally filled with ungodly speech, with the things specifically and solemnly forbidden in Colossians. The ear is a gate to the heart and determines how we live. Proverbs warns, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). The very first thing that is mentioned in that connection is “put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee” (Prov. 4:24)!
Movies and television programs are filled with the things forbidden in Colossians 3:8. A few years ago Calvary Contender reported:
“Foul language, including curses, offensive epithets, scatological language, sexually suggestive or indecent language, and censored language increased by 94.8 percent during the Family Hour between 1998 and 2002” (Calvary Contender, Dec. 2003).
Foul language on television has probably increased that much again since 2002.
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
The Bible warns the believer to cast down every evil imagination, because the imagination is the battle ground for the soul. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” The imagination can go from bad to worse. The flesh is never satisfied. Sin, which began in such a “small” way in the days of Adam, had so permeated man’s mind by the days of Adam’s great grandson Noah that his thoughts were only evil continually. That describes multitudes in our day, which is not surprising in that the Lord warned, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:37).
The epistle of Romans tells us that the imagination plays a great role in the downward spiral that results in homosexuality and other moral perversions. It is impossible to have spiritual victory if one allows the imagination to dwell upon evil things. It is not difficult in this connection to see the danger of television programs and movies, and to see the role they have played in the moral downfall of modern society. They fill the imagination with vivid images that linger and that return even if not purposefully encouraged. They feed the fleshly nature, but it is never satisfied and it only desires more sensuality, more excitement, more exposure of flesh, more, more, and is thus led ever deeper into moral perversion.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).
This passage teaches the child of God to choose the most excellent things in life, not those things that are borderline and questionable. It teaches him to be without offence before God. The believer should ask himself, “Would I be embarrassed for the Lord Jesus to come and find me doing this thing?” We are to be filled with the fruits of righteousness, and that means we have to be emptied of the fruits of the flesh and the world. The child of God has two natures, the old and the new, and the one he feeds and pampers is the one that will dominate his life.
“And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
This verse warns the child of God not to participate in anything that is questionable. If you cannot say for sure that something is God's perfect will, if it creates nagging doubts, you should avoid it.
“Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22).
Not only are we to abstain from evil itself but even from the appearance of evil. Attending the movie theater today has, at best, an appearance of evil, because the vast majority of the movies shown there are morally vile. The same is true for watching most Hollywood movies at home. If our friends see that we watch questionable movies, they will be encouraged to watch them as well, and they probably will not even be as “discriminating” as we are.
“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. ... It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak” (Romans 14:19, 21).
Even if I could go to a movie theater and see a movie that was 100% wholesome by biblical standards and not see any movie trailers for wicked movies, I would still be giving a bad example to others. If I go to watch a G-rated movie, I might encourage others to go and watch an R-rated one and thus sin against God. The same is true for what I watch in the home.
“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2).
The conscience is a tender thing. It can easily be hardened by unrepentant exposure to evil. This is why television programs and movies have gotten ever more wicked with each passing decade. If one of today's PG-13 movies had been shown on television 40 years ago, it would have been condemned broadly even by many unbelievers. The same is true for rock music. Eminem or Marilyn Manson would not have been allowed on the Ed Sullivan Show in the 1950s, but there has been a steady searing of the conscience by exposure to the ever increasing moral vileness of the entertainment industry. When Christians allow themselves to watch programs and movies that they know are wrong, their conscience becomes seared so that eventually they can watch things without so much as a twinge of conscience that once would have shocked them deeply.
“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Genesis 18:19).
God commended Abraham because he would command his children to keep the way of the Lord. Every parent needs to take this to heart. Contrary to the tenets of modern psychology and pop child training philosophy, parents are responsible to command their children and to show them the right way in life. Love is the key to making this work, of course. The father is accountable before God to be the godly head of the home and to oversee all things under Christ. The mother is responsible to work alongside the father as his “helpmeet” in the home, and should never be guilty of undermining any godly thing that the father wants to accomplish. Each believing father and mother will stand before Jesus Christ and give account for how he or she lived in the home and how they raised the children. How wonderful it will be to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt. 25:23).
Nothing this world has to offer is worth losing the Lord’s commendation.
There is an axiom that what parents allow in moderation, the children follow to excess. If parents are even a little careless about what television programs and Hollywood movies they watch, the children will most likely move much farther into the realm of moral temptation.
THE DECEPTIVE RATING SYSTEM
In the United States and many other countries movies and television programs are rated by content, and many Christian parents use the rating system, but it is an unwise and unspiritual standard.
In America, the movies are rated by the Motion Picture Association of America as follows:
G- General Audiences
PG- Parental Guidance Suggested
PG-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned
R- Restricted - No children under 17
NC-17 - No one 17 or Under Admitted
The television ratings are similar, as follows:
TV-Y - Directed at young children; appropriate for all children
TV-Y7 - Directed to children 7 and older
TV-Y7-FV - Directed to children 7 and older with more violent content; e.g. Power Rangers
TV-G - General audiences; deemed appropriate for all ages.
TV-PG - Parental guidance suggested (may have “suggestive dialogue, mild coarse language, sexual situations, moderate violence”)
TV-14 - Recommended for people 14 or older (may have “highly suggestive dialogue, strong coarse language, intense sexual situations, intense violence”)
TV-MA - intended for mature audiences
The problem with the ratings is that they are invented by men and women who are not measuring the programming by God’s Word. Instead, they are applying humanistic standards.
When measured by God’s Word, even most G-rated movies and television programs are not wholesome. They flaunt immodest and unisex fashions that influence children. Child actors are often depicted in a favorable light while being disrespectful to parents and elders. It is supposed to be “cute” and entertaining, but this type of thing influences children and has degraded society.
Beyond this, a great many G-rated and children’s programs promote occultism, New Age, weird and godless fantasy, evolution, narcissism, mockery of holy things, and pushing the envelope of childhood innocence.
Disney is one of the worst offenders. The author of the book entitled “The Gospel According to Disney” observed that Walt Disney preached a religious message through his cartoon characters, a message that “faith is an essential element--faith in yourself and, even more, faith in something greater than yourself, even if it is some vague, nonsectarian higher power” (Mark Pinsky, “Finding faith in the house of the mouse,” The Washington Post, Aug. 14, 2004, p. B7).
Disney’s animated classics are filled with pagan images and things strongly denounced by the Scriptures, such as witches and demons, sorcerers and spells, genies and goblins. Like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, the Disney cartoons present the damnable concept that there is good and bad magic. Disney often depicts witches and sorcerers as likeable heroes.
The 1940 animated movie Pinocchio depicted a man who brings a puppet to life by wishing upon a star; the puppet is subsequently visited by a Blue Fairy who advises, “Let your conscience be your guide.” The Disney fairy also preaches a works gospel that “the gift of life” is attained by “choosing right from wrong.” The fairy is cute and likeable, but a false gospel is cursed of God (Galatians 1:6-9). The Bible warns that the Devil appears as an angel of light in order to deceive people (2 Cor. 12).
Disney did not attend church and though there are churches on practically every main street in America, there are no churches on Main Street in Disneyland in California or Disney World in Florida. Yet Christian parents have allowed Disney’s cartoons and movies to influence their children. Pinsky notes that “few entertainment productions continue to have as profound an impact on young children as [Disney’s] animated features” and “millions of children around the world know from Disney much of what they do about the practical application of right and wrong.”
Some years back the Southern Baptist Convention called for a boycott of Disney, but that boycott was based on newer, more morally edgy Disney productions and ignored the false New Age gospel preached through Disney’s earlier movies, movies that are found in most Southern Baptist homes in the land!
When Disneyland opened in 1954, Time magazine featured Walt Disney on its cover and called him “the poet of the new American humanism.”
Even many of the old Western movies are indecent when weighed by biblical standards. The women typically wear tight, revealing clothing. The likeable heroes drink and gamble and are irreligious. Immoral bargirls are portrayed as innocent, good-hearted people, the salt of the earth, while church-going Christians are depicted as weak hypocrites and fools.
One pastor told me that he has had the custom, from time to time, of asking his sons if they find anything offensive in the home. One year he took one of his sons fishing and asked that question, and the son immediately brought up a certain John Wayne movie that had put improper images in his mind.
Consider an “innocent” G-rated program like The Cosby Show. Unlike most other television series today, Cosby depicted an intact family, with a man and a woman living together that were actually married! But the fashions and attitudes and philosophy are not wholesome from a biblical perspective. A love for rock music was one of the show’s themes. One of the Cosby programs in 1990 dealt with the subject of whether one of the teenage daughters should have pre-marital sex, and the advice was merely to wait until she was “ready” and “in love.” These programs have a powerful effect on young people because the actors are so likeable and believable. Because they are so much more decent than the average television fare, they seem wholesome by comparison, and parents let down their guards.
When it comes to the PG rating, even the secular reviewers deem “parental guidance” to be necessary with these particular programs and movies, which should be a loud warning to God’s people.
Consider “Monk,” one of the more wholesome prime time shows these days. This PG-rated program features the exploits of a psychologically damaged police detective. Though it is less offensive than most TV offerings, “Monk” is far from innocent. The women are dressed very provocatively and the program is literally filled with exclamations of “Oh My God” and other profanities. The philosophy is anti-biblical and anti-Christ. It promotes the popular myths of humanistic psychology, operates in a culture largely devoid of thoughts about God and eternity, and when God is mentioned it is either to profane His name, to debunk the miraculous, to mock religion, or to promote Catholicism.
This is about the best that Hollywood has to offer today, and it is typical PG fare.
The situation comedies are almost universally designed to brainwash the audience. As Ken Matto observes in his report entitled “The Dangers of Television”:
“Television programs are designed with the purpose of reprogramming your mind by breaking down your defenses so you will accept a lie as truth. Many of the anti-Christian and immoral precepts are bellowed forth in situation comedies. They get you to laugh, then they put forth their principles and you have accepted their teachings without reservation. This is why much reprogramming is done through comedy.”
As for PG-13, even non-Christians recognize that great moral dangers lurk there and that the line between PG-13 and R is non-existent.
USA Today published an article entitled “PG-13 can lull folks with false security.” It is a warning about the filthiness of PG-13 movies by a humanistic secular newspaper! The article contains the following important statement:
“PG-13 was designed, I believe, to apply the friendly PG symbol to movies that have no business even being considered for viewing by most young teenagers and preteens. The age of assignment for the rating is deceptive, and it lulls parents into a false sense of security” (Joe Zanger, editor of PG-14, USA Today, Nov. 22, 1999, p. 2D).
This is an important warning. The article also states that there is often no difference between PG-13 and R-rated movies, and even when there is a difference, it is only minor. Both types of movies routinely contain nudity, immorality, gratuitous and graphic violence, and foul language. From the standpoint of a Christian who wants to obey the Lord’s call to holiness, there is no real difference. Immodesty is immodesty. Cursing is cursing. Blasphemy is blasphemy. Extramarital sex is extramarital sex. If one movie contains a little less of these things than another, that does not make either movie acceptable before God.
The ratings have become more lenient with the passing of time. Movies that would have been rated R a few years ago are routinely rated PG-13 today. Further, the category of NC-17 (meaning no one under 17 may be admitted) has been added to replace the old filthy X rating. There is a Satanic agenda to put increasingly more godless content into increasingly more widely distributed movies.
Also noted in the USA Today article is the fact that many directors and producers actually want their movies to be rated PG-13 today, as opposed to an R rating or a PG rating. This is because young people are admitted to the PG-13 movies as opposed to the R or restricted movies and they consider them more desirable and grownup than PG movies. PG-13 movies are raking in huge receipts at the box office. Of the top 21 films that have grossed more than $200 million, 13 are PG-13, while only three are PG, two are G, and three are R.
If secular people can see the danger of PG-13 movies, why can’t God’s people! We must understand that the Hollywood-New York entertainment business is not now and never has been the friend of God and righteousness. From their inception, motion pictures and television have pushed the boundaries of morality in society increasingly farther from the standard of God’s Word. Yet more members of Bible-believing churches watch unwholesome television and movies today than ever, and there is less plain preaching on this matter today than ever.
We must remember that the movie and television ratings systems were not devised by godly people who are committed to obeying the Bible, but by secular people who are controlled by the philosophy of this world. In reality, ungodly movies are not wholesome fare for children, young people, OR for adults. PG-13 things such as nudity and foul language are not acceptable before God for adults any more than for young people.
Like the frog in the gradually-heating pot, God’s people who are careless about separating from Hollywood’s filthy fare become desensitized by it.
The following are typical quotations from reviews of PG-13 movies by professional secular critics:
A CHEF IN LOVE -- PG-13 “violence, rape, sex, nudity, profanity -- it’s pretty raunchy”
MEN IN BLACK -- PG-13 “violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity”
ANACONDA -- PG-13 “violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity, sex, nudity”
BIRD ON A WIRE -- PG-13 “considerable mayhem, as well as sex, profanity and some nudity”
BLAME IT ON THE BELLBOY -- PG-13 “sadistic, graphic violence, as well as sex, profanity, vulgarity and some partial nudity”
CLUELESS -- PG-13 “violence, vulgarity, profanity and drugs … the film’s cavalier suggestions that casual sex is perfectly acceptable for 15-year-olds and that smoking marijuana is fine as long as it's at a party are extremely irresponsible.”
PARENTHOOD -- PG-13 sex, “profanity, vulgarity, raunchy … Some of the material is so adult that an R rating doesn’t seem unreasonable”
RESCUE ME -- “is rated PG-13 but has an awful lot of R-rated material, including violence, profanity, sex and nudity”
SIGNS OF TELEVISION ADDICTION
The Bible says, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
Multitudes of professing Christians today are enslaved to television and movies.
The following list is adapted from one published by Ken Matto:
(1) You enjoy the sinful scenes on the show.
(2) You eat your dinner in front of the TV.
(3) You neglect your spouse or family for a TV show.
(4) You look forward to a TV show much more than to the next church service
(5) You miss Sunday Night services or Wednesday evening prayer meeting for TV.
(6) Your conversation is replete with TV reviews and anecdotes.
(7) TV replaces your Bible reading or devotion time.
(8) The family altar has been replaced by a TV program.
(9) You know more about TV than Scripture.
(10) You meditate more about things on TV than about Christ and His will for your life
(11) You begin to start empathizing with the characters the actors are portraying.
(12) You rush home so you will not miss a program.
(13) You watch TV late into the night consistently.
(14) When company visits, the TV remains on.
(15) You turn the TV on the moment you enter a room.
(16) The TV is on when you are doing your chores.
(17) You do not want people to visit when your programs are scheduled to come on.
(18) When people visit, you wish they would leave so you could watch your programs.
(19) You laugh at the very sins which sent Christ to the cross.
(20) You continue to watch even when Christ’s name is used in vain
(21) You have every premium cable channel like HBO, Cinemax, etc.
(22) You begin to adopt ideas and attitudes contrary to Scripture.
(23) You find more pleasure watching TV than being with God’s people.
The author of the following is unknown:
A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.
As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. In my young mind, each member had a special niche. My brother, Bill, five years my senior, was my example. Fran, my younger sister, gave me an opportunity to play 'big brother' and develop the art of teasing. My parents were complementary instructors. Mom taught me to love the word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spell-bound for hours each evening.
If I wanted to know about politics, history, or science, he knew it all. He knew about the past, understood the present, and seemingly could predict the future. The pictures he could draw were so life like that I would often laugh or cry as I watched.
He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill, and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. My brother and I were deeply impressed by John Wayne in particular.
The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind--but sometimes Mom would quietly get up-- while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places--go to her room, read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.
You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but this stranger never felt obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house--not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted. My dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in his home--not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man-woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
Time after time the stranger opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.
The stranger’s name?
We always just called him TV.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS ABOUT TELEVISION
We strongly advise unhooking the television from cable and the antenna and using it only for education and highly-controlled entertainment.
Don’t even let children watch television by themselves.
Don’t use the television as a baby sitter.
Review and handpick every selection, and err on the side of being too cautious.
There is a wealth of excellent creation science DVDs available today. These are educational, interesting, and challenging. They teach young people how to think critically and fortify them against the devil’s lies. And they are available for all ages and educational levels. (See the article “Creation Science Videos” at the Way of Life web site.)
There are some old films, select television programs, and documentaries that provide innocent entertainment, though these are few and far between, even from the distant past. Of course, parents must always be alert to heresies such as evolution, exaltation of the wicked pop culture, and rock music in the sound tracks.
Beware of becoming addicted to videos. If you watch a DVD most evenings, even carefully selected ones, it will become addictive and you will probably start pushing the boundaries of propriety and watching things that are not wholesome. Further, it is a poor example to the children and will detract from other things. It is wise to strictly and severely limit DVD viewing and to explain to the children the reason why.
One of the most wonderful things Christian families can do together is read books. There are an endless number of entertaining and educational books on history, biography, missions, the Bible, you name it. Much more than video, books expand the imagination and critical thinking processes. Parents should build a family library.
Or gather the family around to listen to good preaching sermons. Thousands of sermons are available on sermonaudio.com. The SermonAudio iPhone edition allows you to browse and search through the library of MP3 sermons and listen to any of them immediately on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Additionally, you can watch sermon videos (MP4) and read sermon transcripts (PDF) -- all without a PC and 100% wirelessly. This new service is completely free for all SermonAudio broadcasters and listeners.
Way of Life Literature publishes a series called Life Changing Sermons available on one DVD. This series features 500 select sermons in MP3 format, including expository preaching through Ruth, Psalms, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, James, and Jude, sermons on spiritual encouragement, Christian living, the Bible Version and other issues facing God’s people today, and sermons from the past by men such as Harry Ironside, R.G. Lee, John R. Rice, Harold Sightler, J. Frank Norris, and Lester Roloff.
Parents should aim to fill the home with wholesome, interesting, and educational things. These days we are doing this for our grandkids. They visit us regularly and often spend the night and we want to have things available that will not only entertain them but educate and challenge them. Sure, we have plenty of candy and toys! But beyond that we have collected a wide assortment of books at their level, and things such as a model of Noah’s ark from Answers in Genesis, an earth globe to teach them about the planet, and simple puzzles and experiments.
There are countless things that families can do together without plugging into Hollywood’s filth. In addition to reading, there is photography, music, fishing, hunting, shooting, boating, electronics, mechanics, astronomy, camping, cooking, sewing, canning, making models, learning how things are made, investigating God’s amazing creation all around them, watching birds, collecting insects, flying kites, flying model airplanes, raising animals (if you can’t have a horse or even a dog, you can usually have an ant farm or a guinea pig or a goldfish tank), growing gardens, studying the weather. The list is endless, and there are online courses for such things that the family can study together.
The goal should not be merely to entertain kids and to have fun, but to educate them and help them know God in His fathomless, multi-faceted majesty and to learn how to walk with Him. The goal is to prepare the children to find and accomplish God’s perfect will for their individual lives.
You will be amazed at how quickly the family can learn to enjoy life without the television and in a much more spiritually and morally healthy manner.
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