#189 – Christian TV

A few weeks ago in his sermon, my pastor admitted to watching Modern Family. By the way he defended himself it’s like he had just admitted to watching Cinemax after 10:00pm. Should pastors or any Christian apologize for watching Modern Family or other similar television shows?

There’s a lot of TV that isn’t edifying to the soul. True Blood with its rampant sexuality and disturbing violence should probably make the list of shows Christians shouldn’t watch. But I certainly hope that there are more shows on the list of programs Christians can watch than The 700 Club, televised showings of Fireproof and Matlock.

I watch a lot of TV shows on a regular basis: Modern Family, Community, The Office, 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. All of those shows have themes and plot points that don’t always line up with Biblical standards.

On The Office Jim and Pam had sex before they were married.

On Community Shirley exhibits intolerance for religions other than Christianity.

On Modern Family there is a gay couple.

On 30 Rock anything Tracy Jordan does.

I watch these shows with a clear conscience every week. I laugh while I’m watching the shows and I laugh again when discussing them with my friends.

Some shows may cause people to stumble into sin. True Blood would probably cause me to lust, so I choose to avoid it. Jersey Shore would probably cause me to get angry and hurt something, so I choose to avoid it. Some shows, though, are sin neutral and that mostly has to do with the viewer.

Paul says that we have freedom in Christ to do what we want as long as our freedom doesn’t cause another brother or sister to stumble. We have freedom to watch whatever TV shows we want as long as they don’t cause another brother or sister, including ourselves, to stumble.

If laughter is a sin, though, then I might have to stop watching Community and start watching Two and a Half Men.

How do you choose what televisions shows to watch?

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6 Responses to “#189 – Christian TV”

  1. Do you think it hinders our ability to be closer to God? I mean, I’m always shocked to hear and see so many Christians engaged in the Harry Potter series. Yet other Christians might find it offensive that I enjoyed the Twilight Series. I agree the need to laugh is real, and it is fun to watch some of the shows out there; however – should we have a mindset that if Jesus was a guest in our home, sitting on our couch, would we say, “Jesus, check out this raunchy comedy show! It has a bunch of stuff that’s not pleasing to you and the way you want us to live our lives, but it’s HILARIOUS!” What do you think?

    • I think 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 provides the best scriptural background for this discussion.

      Personally, the television shows I choose to watch don’t keep me from drawing close to God. I read Twilight and that didn’t keep me from drawing close to God either. God didn’t create us from cookie cutters; we’re all shaped in different ways and we’re going to be impacted differently by media, relationships and sunsets.

      As Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians, though, our freedom is limited by how it will affect other believers. Paul didn’t think eating meat sacrificed to an idol was wrong, but if he was with another believer who did, he would abstain.

      I haven’t gotten around to reading Harry Potter yet, but if I do I wouldn’t find you at church, Danielle, and tell you all my favorite things about Mr. Potter’s Universe.

      And if Jesus was at my house, I don’t think I’d feel that bad about watching The Office with him. Jesus hung out at weddings and parties and campfires. He was just as much human as he was God. Because Jesus is so divinely amazing, it’s easy to forget that he was also a man who had friends, laughed at jokes and sat around a fire telling stories.

      And obviously this is a poor medium to have a worthwhile conversation, but if you wanted I’d be more than happy to chat about it at church.

      • I don’t want to sound as though I’m judging people based on what they watch – that’s the furthest thing from my mind. I just wonder if perhaps we as Christians have become a bit too secularized and therefore try to rationalize all the different immoral and unethical things we watch and see on TV and in movies.

        A couple months ago I took my best friend to see a movie for her birthday. During the movie, I was actually embarrassed that I’d stated on my Facebook status that I was seeing that movie. It was so raunchy and disgusting and I really felt convicted that it was not a movie I should be watching. I changed my Facebook status immediately!

        If you hang out with a group of people that curses a lot, it’s probably only going to be a matter of time before that same behavior rubs off on you. The same could be true of watching movies and TV that portray things that are not necessarily Christ-like. The more you watch things that are not glorifying to Christ, the more complacent you become to the feeling of conviction – almost like you become numb. You don’t hear God’s voice anymore. It’s like that old story of putting a frog in a pot of boiling water – he’ll jump right out, but if you put him in cold water and gradually increase the heat, he’ll die! I think that’s what is happening to our society! What used to be on TV even just 10 years ago seems mild compared to what we’re experiencing today.

        I think of Lisa Whelchel from The Facts of Life. Back in the 80s the producers wanted her character to sleep with her boyfriend. She refused because of her Christian beliefs. So they had another character do it instead – and that was the only episode Lisa didn’t appear in. She has since left Hollywood, and would probably find it very difficult to find a wholesome role to play these days.

        Christians are frogs in a pot that is slowly coming to a boil. We’ve become way too complacent with how people live their lives and what we allow to be seen in our homes and what we pay for entertainment. Maybe having kids has changed my perspective – if I don’t want my kids watching it, maybe I shouldn’t watch it. Our society has been overtaken by a loud minority movement of unmoral individuals while we sit back and be the silent majority. Our silence is slowly sending people to Hell, and therefore is sin. We are practically giving people tickets to Hell by not demanding higher values out of our entertainment. We’ve become complacent and think, “Well, as long as it doesn’t affect me, people can do whatever they want.” Hollywood also portrays certain immoral storylines with heartfelt emotion that actually makes you feel sorry for the characters or look forward to the development of the story. We actually look forward to being entertained by sin?!

        Imagine if we as Christians stood together and demanded change. Hollywood would see a massive decrease in revenues if our demands weren’t met and would more than likely be forced to make a change.

        Carl and I would love to discuss anything with you anytime. And I enjoy reading your blog – but will probably have to throw a dissenting view out there once in awhile to keep things interesting. 🙂

  2. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not worth jeopardizing one’s soul or the souls of others for a few half hour shows. And to give a bit of history I was all about the raunchy comedies (Apatow, John Waters, John Hughes for instance), or the thursday night shows etc. Something that my pastor has been reiterating over and over is that we should be redeeming our time after the things of the Lord not of men.

    I cannot tell you how difficult this has been for me. It took me a while to get over my wounded pride and arrogance because I always felt that it was difficult for a person like me to fit in the Christian lifestyle. I am pretty much a nerd into video games, Pokemon, Star Wars, anime, manga etc. And while I understood the message I always felt like it was incomplete because I was scared to give it up because to do so meant not only was giving up a part of my identity what if it was nearly everything about me that made me, me. I needed assurance that as someone who didn’t like traditional hobbies etc could have the support of those like me. It was essentially a very high school mentality when I’d see other couples in the church or other members and felt frustration that certain hobbies and likes can easily be translated and adapted.

    My pastor discussed football. It was honestly something that I had grown to believe that it could easily adapted to a Christian lifestyle. He one day pointed out that even then he would have to guard his mind because of the worldly influence. It was not only the aggressiveness but rather the way women were portrayed in the cheerleaders, the conduct of fans (one can argue the idolatry that can exist in some fans etc).

    I concluded that everything that comes of the world has to be guarded against heavily. But in doing so we have to determine what our watching and participating means and how its viewed by other people. That’s is what changed my mindset. My church would most definitely be seen as very strict by most people even Christians but the reason is that they have taught me that in everything I do I must glorify God and in turn be an example for others especially non believers. It would kill me if my participating in something that didn’t glorify God or really blatantly opposed biblical truth was used as ammunition as to why someone would denounce God or God’s truth. It really is a matter of life and death.

    I have stopped watching and doing a lot of stuff. It isn’t simply not listening to bands that curse, or do things that are clearly an affront to God. But being especially diligent to the things that looked innocuous but really went against God’s word.

    And it has been so tough to be very blunt but I feel better for it. It is a daily struggle when I am tempted to watch the shows like True Blood, the current comedies, the movies etc…

    I don’t want to condemn others but this is what I’ve concluded after years of just stubbornly and angrily (and admittedly there may have been some pouting and foot stomping akin to a temper tantrum) hashing it out with God and myself and hearing sermons from my pastor.

    And now my prayer is that I can find a support group that either understands where I come from or are similar to me so that we can strengthen each other and maybe learn how to have our likes glorify God. I guess for me that is my litmus test. I want everything I do to glorify God and in turn be a light to a dark world. It’s too much of a risk when the mortality of a person’s soul is at jeopardy.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      I agree that our goal in life should be to glorify God in everything that we do. That’s something for which I strive on a daily basis, even though I often fail. And I agree that it’s important to discern those things which impede our ability to glorify God.

      I also agree that it’s important to surround ourselves with a community with similar tastes. I have plenty of friends in the church who play video games and read comics; it’s great that we can have those things in common and even discuss their religious themes.

      I’d encourage you to continue pursuing a community with whom you can interact and grow together.

  3. Agree with everything you said. We should practice discernment and be careful as to what we let our minds consume. In my opinion, Modern Family is harmless. If we let the Holy Spirit dictate our lives, we know whether we’re watching something harmful or not.

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