“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”
I am a recovering TV junkie. I never needed a TV Guide, I knew the schedule by heart. If challenged today, I could probably tell you within the first 5 minutes of each “Law and Order” episode who did it and why. Same with “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Brady Bunch,” “M*A*S*H*” – name me an 80’s or 90’s TV show, I probably saw it. I cannot begin to estimate the number of hours wasted in front of the TV; it would be depressing to even venture a guess.
A couple of years ago my family “cut the Cable.” We were paying for a couple hundred satellite channels, but always complaining that nothing was on. The price for this “entertainment” kept going up, but the quality kept going down. That, and I knew that I was watching too much TV, and my children were beginning to follow in my habits.
Since we left TV behind, some amazing things have happened.
We talk a lot more as a family. Sure, our children are getting older, and their schedules are hectic. We spend a great deal of time shuttling them from one place to the next. There’s not a lot of time for TV. But when we are home, it doesn’t have to be on.
We read more too. We go outside to play (when outside isn’t covered in snow). In general, I cannot think of one adverse effect from having disconnected the “idiot box.”
That being said, I read recently that the daily average of television viewing in the US is 5 hours. That’s 5 hours a day. The same report showed that while the average American youth will spent 900 hours per year in school, the average youth will watch 1200 hours of TV. By the age of 18, an average television watcher will have seen over 150,000 violent acts on TV, and been enticed by over 16,000 television ads.
Compare this to recent studies regarding Americans and their Bibles. A 2013 study by the Barna Group showed that while more than half of Americans think the Bible has too little influence on a culture they see in moral decline, yet only one in five Americans read the Bible on a regular basis, according to a new survey. The study revealed that 57% of those who have a Bible read that Bible less than 4 times a year. A year!
Here’s an interesting experiment for you to try: take a small notebook and right down at the end of each day how many hours you spent watching TV and how many hours you’ve spent reading the Bible. That should be quite revealing.
My dad used to have a sign above his computer that simply said, “GIGO” which is simply translated, “Garbage in Garbage Out.” The basic premise is that no matter how sophisticated the computer, what you put in is what will come out. If you enter flawed and erroneous data (garbage in), the results will be flawed and erroneous (garbage out).
Now I don’t want to equate the human mind to a computer by comparison, but the saying “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” applies to our lives just as much as it does to our computers. If all you feed your mind is lies, garbage, nonsense – the stuff that’s on the “boob tube” – it stands to reason that you can expect your life to be filled with lies, garbage and nonsense. How can you “set your mind on things above” if it is constantly being filled with the things below? The apostle Paul put it this way, “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). How much time are you spending with your TV?
I know how tempting it can be. You come home after a long day at work, and all you want to do is “turn on, tune in, and drop out,” to “veg”. But we don’t, we can’t really “veg.” The problems at work, the things said about you in the hall between classes, that stuff keeps running through your mind. We hope the TV will drown out all the stress, but it just pushes it off till later, and gives us some pretty terrible advice on how to deal with out issues. All those voices clamoring for your attention will lead you down the primrose path.
Turn instead to God’s word. Begin and end each day with God’s Word of truth, the truth that establishes the way you look at the rest of the world. Begin and end each day with God’s Word of promise, and let that promise be the source of your hope and peace. Begin and end each day with God’s Word of love, forgiveness, and grace in Jesus Christ, and allow that love to be the strength and source of your love.
Grace and peace,
PS – I highly recommend reading this – A Stranger in our Home