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Is TV Really So Bad?

We are living in a sin-sick, morally degenerate, and pleasure-mad world. Our society continually demands entertainment, amusements, and pastimes at an ever-increasing level.

What is the goal of this "continual-entertainment" spirit? To keep modern man happily busy...

The very words themselves reveal this fact. The word amusement comes originally from the French and literally means "to stare at fixedly so as to prevent musing or thinking." The word pastime speaks for itself. It means to kill or use up time as a thing of little value; to pass time away. The root of the word entertainment means to divert. Thus it implies something which takes us away or diverts us from the normal, real world of everyday life.

In other words, entertainment, amusements, pastimes are things which keep us busy - busy avoiding the realities of life and truth as they are set down in God's Holy Word. They keep us busy avoiding thinking about eternity, hell, heaven, sin, God, Christ, salvation, our own selves, and especially our need for a new heart.

But if entertainment succeeds in its first goal of making man busy it fails miserably in its second: happily busy. Never has there been so much restlessness, dissatisfaction, and yes, unhappiness. Despite our freedom from poverty... plus our continual drinking in of entertainment - no age has been as unhappy as modern man.

Entertainment can never give enough - it always leaves an empty feeling behind. The more it is practiced and relied on, the emptier it becomes.

It has turned our society into an object of pity, for we are victims of our own system. Society goes full cycle, from being pleasure-hungry to pleasure-mania to pleasure-boredom.

But do you know what is even worse? Not only the world, but also the church has begun sliding down the slippery slope of entertainment which can only end in sin, and disastrous results... Step-by-step the old-fashioned, plain gospel message with its emphasis on the necessity of conversion, is being increasingly de-emphasized. Less and less time is being spent praying together as a family, reading religious books together with children, talking together in family circles about spiritual matters.

At the very heart and centre of our modern entertainment spirit stands TELEVISION. Our society has become TELE-HOLIC. On a night when wives do not leave home, 95 out of 100 will spend it watching TV and 85% of their husbands will do likewise. Among teenagers, 80% will follow their parents' example, and 75% of children will also spend their evening drinking in the sin shown on TV.

A television owner usually becomes addicted to TV with respect to (A) TIME, (B) SIN, and (C) CONTROL.

(A) TIME. The average TV viewer spends 5 hours per day watching TV. By the time an average American youth becomes sixty-five years old, he will have spent fourteen years of his life watching TV (compared to one year spent in church, Sunday School, and catechism if he comes faithfully to all). In the U.S.A. children three to five years old spend fifty-four hours every week watching TV, which is 64% of their time awake. Every time an adult sits down to watch TV, he/she averages 3 hours of watching time before turning the TV off. Children are glued to TV for an average of 2 hours per sitting. With the exception of sleeping, the average American will spend more time in his life watching TV than anything else - yes even more than working. Do we not have a tele-holic society with respect to our precious, God-given time?

(B) SIN. TV is a flood of sin. It numbs its watchers against all ten commandments... TV applauds sin, approves of sin, and forces its watchers to minimize sin through countless repetitions. Over and over again the traditional family life is despised as old-fashioned: fatherhood is replaced with heroism via pathways of sin; motherhood is rejected as demeaning; obedience from children is laughed at as being too boring to be entertaining.

TV has become a catalogue of sin, and all studies reveal it is getting worse. It has become the devil's classroom. The devil is smart enough to throw in a little religion too, and occasionally even a little morality, to pacify consciences enough not to throw it out. Does not TV make a tele-holic society with respect to sin when it feeds lust, perverts morals, presents impurity as love, pictures murder as thrilling, exalts nakedness and indecency as beauty, and seeks to legitimise all kinds of sin against every command of God?

(C) CONTROL Here the addiction becomes even more serious. Thousands of family fights take place regularly because no agreement can be reached on which show to indulge in. In American homes 35% of mealtimes are spent in front of the TV set. Nightly thousands of parents realise the programs that will come on are demoralising and harmful for their children but yet are so hungry themselves to drink in the sin which they contain that they often let their children watch it too, having no power to control it.

Our natural hearts love sin, our ears listen for sin, our eyes look for sin. That is just the problem with TV. It is not the box itself that is the problem, but it is our hearts. TV shows what the heart of man wants to see.

You are wasting precious God-given time for which you will have to give an account one day. Would it not be far better that you take the time spent watching TV to read Scripture or good books, or listen to sermon tapes?

May it become the prayer of all of us with David: "I will set no evil thing before my eyes. Turn Thou my eyes from beholding vanity." (Pilgrim's Gate; Condensed)

By Dr J.R. Beeke

 

Also see: books and articles by David Neal

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Liberty To The Captives Established in June 2001