What about Television?
Malcolm Horlock, Cardiff, Wales
It will come as no surprise to you to find that there are no references to television in the Bible. Nevertheless, the Scriptures do provide guidance for the Christian who wishes to know what his attitude should be to many of the things which can be seen on it.
We know that the Lord is very concerned about the mind of the believer. Indeed, one of the true objectives of gospel preaching is to take captive a person's thought-life and to bring it into obedience to Christ, 2 Cor. 10. 5. The apostle Paul taught the importance of having the mind properly targetted. "Set your minds", he wrote, "on the things above, not on things on the earth", Col. 3. 2 lit. It does the Christian no good to have his mind exposed to the amusements and entertainments of the world.
It is not possible, of course, for our minds to be occupied always with "spiritual" matters. Paul does, however, provide us with a set of criteria which we should apply to those things upon which we feed our minds; "Whatever things are true, . . . honourable, . . . just, . . . pure, . . . lovable, ... of good report (indeed, if anything is of moral excellence and a fit object of praise) think on these things", Phil. 4. 8 paraphrase. This verse provides us with an inspired standard which can be used to test whether the pasture is fit for God's flock to graze in! It is not the Lord's will for us to expose ourselves deliberately to television programmes which fail to pass "the Phil. 4. 8 test".
There is no doubt that what we see makes a far more vivid impression upon our minds than what we hear. Yet the apostle Paul regarded it a shameful thing even to speak of certain immoral practices, Eph. 5.12. We can hardly justify, therefore, choosing to watch such things when portrayed visually.
Job could say that he had "made a covenant" with his eyes; why then should he look with lust upon a young woman?, Job 51. 1. Many popular television programmes contain material which tends to incite lust. The words of the Lord Jesus still stand true, "Every one who looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart", Matt. 5. 28 lit. It is foolish for us to supply fuel for our own temptation. "Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, Rom. 13. 14.
Our ideas, values and attitudes are influenced profoundly by that which we regularly absorb. The constant bombardment of our minds by materialism, violence, blasphemy and un-cleanness is not calculated to produce in us the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5. 19-24. The word of God exhorts us, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind", Rom. 12. 2.
We should also remember that we are stewards of our time. Television can easily rob us of time which could be spent in some form of Christian service, in prayer, in reading God's Word or in doing something generally useful. The Lord's command to us is "walk carefully therefore . . . redeeming the time", Eph. 5. 15-16 lit; (cf. Col. 4. 5).