In whatever you do, be it watching television, or getting caught up into any other type of entertainment, remember:
“Everything is permissible” —but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
How blessed we are that we have a God who has given us the freedom of choice. And how fortunate we are that when we make poor choices, He doesn’t send lightning bolts from heaven to turn us into crispy critters or we’d all be fried by now. But just because we have freedom of choice it doesn’t mean that we should use that freedom to do whatever we desire without considering the consequences to ourselves, to others, and to “Kingdom work.”
The Psalmist prayed in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” How wise those words are for us to pray for our own lives!
Television and Entertainment Choices
How does this apply to marriage? It applies greatly when we realize that we have so many choices as to how we spend our time together. This can be applied when we own a television. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with watching television. There are times it actually can be of use to us for many differing reasons. One of them is that sometimes we just need time to retreat into something that doesn’t challenge our brain so we can “unwind” for a while.
Psychologist John Gray talks about how men watch television. He said it can be a way that most men find helpful to unwind from the day’s pressures. He writes:
“Men come home and every day they like to go through a ritual to forget the day. They want to come home and waste time. This is because they’ve been doing ‘useful things’ all day. They have a need to retreat to their ‘cave’ for a while.
“To men the most ‘useful’ thing to do after work is to do nothing useful — just watch TV. They have a need to escape and retreat. They do not want to talk about problems for a while to recuperate.”
Television Watching in Moderation and with Mutual Agreement
So TV viewing can sometimes be useful as long AS LONG AS IT’S NOT OVERDONE. That’s why every couple needs to periodically take the time to assess together whether they’re “on the same page” in how they spend their time.
It’s a lifelong commitment of negotiating. That’s because daily we’re bombarded with too many choices as to how we spend our time — especially in this day of advanced technology. Everything is brought right into our homes to deal with in some way or another. Recently, we were sent the following illustration from a friend that brings this point to home:
“Last night my wife and I were sitting in the living room, talking about life. In-between, we talked about the idea of living or dying. I said to her: ‘Dear, never let me live in a vegetative state, totally dependent on machines and liquids from a bottle. If you see me in that state I want you to disconnect all the contraptions that are keeping me alive, I’d much rather die’.
“Then my wife got up from the sofa with this real look of admiration towards me… and proceeded to disconnect the television, the Cable, the Dish, the DVD Player, the Computer, the Cell Phone, the iPod, and the Xbox. And she then went to the fridge and threw away all my beverages! …I ALMOST DIED!”
Finding the Proper Balance
As humorous as this can be, it also has some truth to it in some homes. We pray you’ll work with each other as a team. Find the proper balance for how you spend your days together. It’s something we continually have to work on ourselves. It just comes with the commitment of marriage.
With that said, we’d like to end with the following poem that was sent to us. It is written by an unknown author and has certainly challenged our own hearts. In light of the scripture written at the beginning of this message, there’s a challenge in it for us all. We hope you’ll read this message together and spend some “intentional time” together discussing it. Work together on that, which is “beneficial” and “constructive” to the good of all concerned.
THE 23rd CHANNEL
The TV set is my shepherd.
My spiritual growth shall want.
It makes me to sit down
and do nothing for His name’s sake
because it requireth all of my spare time.
It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian
because it presenteth so many good shows
that I must see.
It restoreth my knowledge of the things of the world,
and keepeth me from the study of God’s word.
It leadeth me in the paths
of failing to attend the evening worship services
and doing nothing in the kingdom of God.
Yea, though I live to be 100,
I shall keep on viewing television
as long as it will work.
For it is my closest companion.
Its sound and its picture, they comfort me.
It presenteth entertainment before me,
and keepeth me
from doing important things with my family.
It fills my head with ideas,
which differ from those set forth in the Word of God.
Surely, no good things will come of my life
because my television offereth me
no good time to do the will of God.
Thus I will dwell crownless
in the house of the Lord forever.
Balance Is Key
Let me (Steve) just say in conclusion that as a recovering “TV-holic,” balance in this area of my life is essential. I can easily find myself spending wasted hours in front of the television rather than doing anything productive for my spiritual life or my married life if I’m not careful.
As one writer put it (and I believe it), “Television promotes passivity. People wrapped up in watching T.V. have neither the motivation nor the energy to develop an intimate relationship. It can become so hypnotic that one does not realize how much time is being given to television viewing” (from article “Too Much Television“).
If you feel a “check” in your spirit over this issue, please, don’t ignore it. God gives you that check for a purpose. It is for us to make the changes He knows are necessary so you don’t rob your spouse, children, and your God of the time needed from you.
To help you further in this area of your marriage, the following are a few suggestions to help you decide how much time you should spend in front of your television (as well as your computer, phone, iPod, game system, etc).
- “Do you realize that every time you turn on the television [and other media], you’re choosing to NOT do something else? It’s important to choose wisely, especially if the time you have to spend with your family is limited.” (Dennis Rainey)
- Don’t watch TV mindlessly. If you’re going to watch, make it for a specific program with a specific purpose” (Dennis Rainey).
- Read the on line article, “Fifteen Reasons Why I Should Unplug My TV.” It might not convince you to permanently unplug your TV, but it might help you to at least make the commitment to better LIMIT your television viewing.
- “In our house, we have Psalm 101:3 printed out and taped to the top of our TV as a reminder while we watch. It says, ‘I will set no worthless thing before my eyes. I hate the work of those who fall away. It shall not fasten its grip on me.‘” (Dennis Rainey, from “No Worthless Thing“)
- We have a “No Media” night once a week where instead of plugging into any electronic media, we spend time together plugging into growing closer together in our marriage. It’s a type of “Outside Information Diet” where we let the outside world go on without our participation.
- Read the article, “How Much is Too Much TV?“
We encourage you to pray over and seriously consider this matter. We hope that the above information helps your marriage in a positive way.
Steve and Cindy Wright
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One response to “Television: The 23rd Channel – MM #83”
(MIDDLE EAST) Dear Steve and Cindy, One thing we have tried to do for the past 2-3 years is apply the Sabbath principle from Scripture to our computer and the Internet. That means no computer and Internet on Sundays.
There have been a few times where we have had to make exceptions because of our work responsibilities. However, we really try hard to be as consistent as possible with this. Computer work and things to look at on the Internet are never ending and lines have to be drawn somewhere.
I trust these thoughts will help facilitate further discussion.